Saturday, April 01, 2006

A Mystery from my Past: Oak Island

Back when I was in elementary school, I had occasional headaches, much like those that Alvis suffers from time to time.

School nurses didn't seem as cool about these things as Alvis's have been. We keep the nurse stocked with snack bags and Slim Jims. Don't know why these things help, but it makes a big difference for recovery time. For me, I got shoved onto a cot amongst abandoned school A/V equipment and told to take a nap. If I didn't settle down after a while, Mom came to pick me up.

I did find that there was usually just enough light coming through the door window that I could read. So I inevitably grabbed a small book before heading down to the nurse.

Kids like frightening things. I tended to read "unsolved" mysteries, ghost stories, phatasms, pirate treasure, etc. One story I read was the mystery of "Oak Island." This one really fascinated me. Daniel McGinnis, in the summer of 1795 was exploring a densely wooded section of an island off Nova Scotia and came across a clearing in the woods that had a tackle block at the top of the tree and a small depression underneath. Well, what else could anyone think but "Pirate Treasure!"

A series of digs is said to have revealed wooden plank barriers at regular intervals.

Eventually diggers hit a "booby-trap" and water filled the pit, resisting all attempt to stem its flow. Bits of chain, a mysterious plaque even what some claim to be a floating severed hand were brought up with core samples or in (later) video images.

This story really caught my imagination. Just who would build such a highly complex treasure trove and how did they intend to get it out again when they returned?

Love of movies like "The Goonies," "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Pirates of the Caribbean"were eventually all that remained of my "Oak Island" mystery.

Until the other day. I don't know what brought that bit of memory up to the surface but there it came and after all those years, I figured a quick "Google" would reveal what that treasure finally was.

Boy. I was wrong.

In the time since my childhood they found and dug up.......?

Nothing. Zip. Nada.

So what's the deal? (or lack thereof). Historically, it takes a great deal of money to finance treasure hunting expedtions--both on land and in the sea. Lots of money generally means that multiple investors get a stake at the table and when multitudes of people get involved with large sums of money invested for even larger returns--my guess is that "personality issues" can distract from the primary purpose. Eventually the searches burn through the money and that is that.

Are we any closer to finding out who dug it? Not really. Although some interesting information has progressed since I read about it as kid.

The Suspects (Part I):

First we have the usual gang; Pirates--namely Blackbeard and Captain Kidd. But the issue with this is that this seems to have been (if true) a highly engineered construction. Sure, the Egyptians did some amazing things with basic tools but most pirates wanted a place to stash the booty that was quickly accessed and the amount of work that would have been done likely would have precluded this option.

Also suggested were Vikings. Ok. I'm not really buying this one. While Vikings may have explored the area along the Canadian cost and even established some light colonies, I'm thinking they kept "light" on their feet and longboats and find it doubtful they accumulated such a great hoard of gold/treasure they had to bury it that fantastically.

Amusingly, the Knights Templar come up as having come across the Atlantic and secretly buried something of value: the Holy Grail? Yeah, right.

One final group comes up...but lets hold off on them for a moment.

The Physical Evidence:

Granted, the early excavators were not trained archaeologists and anthropologists. They were young men who were spurred on by a desire of riches. What would have been very valuable was a survey and grid-dig of the entire area around the depression. That much work would very likely have left some bits of physical evidence of the person(s) who did the digging: trash, animal bones from meals, a latrine pit. That alone may have provided enough evidence to date the creators. It is even possible that someone was seriously hurt or killed in the construction. Maybe a grave site could be located with clues such a metal or buttons that could date the dig. That is probably not very likely now, however after all the site destruction from later dig attempts.

Surveys of the island have turned up mysterious groupings of stones and boulders....

The proximity of the pit to a cove leads some to suggest that pirates banded together to make a dry-dock and the pit was part of a pumping mechanism to lower water in the cove--but this theory doesn't hold much--pardon me--water.

The strongest clue I have since read is this: tree-growth! Bear with me here. Oak Island is (was) pretty heavily covered in trees. These trees grow at a measurable rate. When Daniel McGinnis found the clearing, it was 1795. Assuming reports are correct, the area would have been deforested just about 50 years prior to discovery. Any longer and the land would once again have been covered by trees! So we have a possible window of activity around 1745 and 1795 for pit construction.

The Suspects (Part II):

That leaves our last likely group of pit diggers: The British Navy. Yes! Well, anyway, this theory goes something like the British captured the rich city of Havana, Cuba from the Spanish during our time window. They sailed the loot up North and British engineers had previously dug the pit as a secret ammo-dump, then they actually filled it with the captured loot. But that takes a lot of pre-planning. If they were so concerned with it, why bury it. Why not just high-tail it back to England to begin with? And why was it never collected? Or was it?

Getting it up:

As noted before first attempts were basic--dig down. This ended when the tunnel flooded. Later attempts involved parallel pits dug--also flooded, attempts to stop the flooding--failed. Dynamite. And core drilling. Currently the pit has been back-filled and activity is idle as investors attempt to secure more funding. Of great interest is that investors convinced the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to come and do a survey of the island. Those findings remain sealed and secret to this day. However all reports are (what do you expect?) cryptically noted as being "promising." Suprisingly, the Wikipedia reports that the WHOI did release their findings--which were dye-water flow tests and indicated that pit flooding was a natural phenomenon. (Damn those geologists--just who do they think they are?)

Now, considering the magnitude of what has been attempted before and all the high tech techniques that have been attempted and failed, here is my suggestion.

Call up the Discovery Channel for some exciting film support, get some additional funding from the BBC boys across the pond and then go find an American strip-mining operator. Maybe even Geraldo Rivera might bite. Bring in the super digging toys--Tonka Truck style--and mark off an area about a mile around the pit center. Then start scraping the earth away tapering down towards the pit area. This should be big enough to reveal any structure of booby-trap flooding channels. If it fills with water, no biggie. Keep dredging and send the sludge/mud muck through a series of screens to capture any bootie. Get down far enough and eventually you'll have your treasure--or bedrock. Easy-Peasy. Sure you'll destroy everything in the process, but you'll have your treasure.

Come on guys. I needs some final resolution to this matter. My childhood is ticking away here!

Get with it.

Oh yeah, and one other thing. You know young Daniel McGinnis who started this whole thing? Well, the Wikipedia reports that the whole Oak Island thing first cropped up in public awareness in the early 19th Century newspapers--and may have been entirely based on local folklore and stories fed by investment seekers. No supporting materials or evidence have been apparently been discovered, and the pit may have been "seeded" with those mysterious bits of objects to attact more investors....who knows?

Yet another childhood mystery that inspired and captivated me...collapsing in the light of adult daylight....

When it all come down to the final assessment, I guess I have to admit to myself this is all just about boys playing in a sandbox with their (expensive) toys, isn't it?


Oak Island Treasure: Legends, excavations, photos, theories, and even a discussion forum.
GoogleMaps satellite view of Oak Island (not very glamorous)
The Mystery Pit of Oak Island A brief primer.
Oak Island Money Pit--Bill Milstead A now dated website from a (former?) dig investor.

Oak Island - Wikipedia and A Critical Analysis of the Oak Island Legend Warning to all who enter here...hopes be dashed and dreams dismembered against the rocks of reality!


Anonymous said...


April 2007 Edition
Hard Copy Version
Oak Island Update! – Cree Code Breaker Challenges 140-Year Old Cipher

MAHONE BAY, Nova Scotia –The enigma of Oak Island has been called one of the greatest archaeological and engineering achievements of mankind. Often referred to as Canada’s best known unsolved mystery, Oak Island proudly boasts it’s title for hosting the site of the World’s longest treasure hunt in recorded history. Now in its 212th year this 10 million dollar project that has selfishly taken the lives of six young men is no closer to being solved than it was in 1795 when three teen boys discovered a shaft here and began digging for what they believed to be pirate treasure! The boys excavated down to the 30 foot mark, exhausted and unable to continue they realized the dig would be a much larger effort then they first imagined. What the boys found as they dug convinced all three that they had indeed discovered a man-made vertical shaft of sound engineering. Their only conclusion was that it had been built to hide an enormous treasure. Knowing that a proper excavation required equipment, animals and manpower the boys set out to find investment capital. It took years but they did find an investor with whom they became the founders of the Onslow Company, the first of many treasure recovery companies that would come and go on Oak Island. To date the cost of this intoxicating treasure hunt has far exceeded ten million dollars and consigned six sturdy treasure hunters to an early grave.

Now for the first time since the 1860’s one man has come forward to challenge the translation of a cryptic message found etched into a stone that was discovered at the 90-foot mark in the original shaft in 1803 by the Onslow Company. The stone vanished about 1900 and no known image or text was preserved showing the cryptic message. However a Mahone Bay school teacher in 1909 claimed to have copied the two line, forty-character coded text directly from the stone hoping that he could break the code himself. He provided the only image of the codex known to exist stating the code was a simple letter-for-cipher that was accurately translated by Professor James Leitchi, a professor of languages at Dalhouse University in 1860’s. Leitchi’s translation reads… “Forty feet below two million pounds are buried.” Although Leitchi’s translation has never been directly challenged it has always been suspicious since a business relationship is known to have existed between Leitchi and the Oak Island Association, the 1860’s recovery company.

Recently Keith Ranville, a Cree First Nations researcher announced his challenge of Leitchi’s translation stating… “Birch Island holds the secret to the meaning of the construction on Oak Island. According to the Lunenburg Progress Enterprise, Ranville claims that Leitchi’s method to break the code was flawed, citing that his translation using the First Nations tradition, sees the codex as individual abstract symbols that were never intended to be translated into a single message. Using Ranville’s method to decipher the code, which reads more like a map, Oak Island is directly linked to its sister island, nearby Birch Island by underwater man-made shafts. He cites the repeated use of the triangle from the original inscription and points to the large triangle that he discovered on Birch Island which is only visible from the air. The triangle on the 16-acre Birch Island takes up much of the Island which Ranville believes is also the ancient burial grounds for those who were involved with the complex construction found on Oak Island.

Ranville’s work offers a completely different approach to solving the Oak Island mystery. Traveling across Canada Ranville has presented his findings to a number of scholars and groups many of whom have supported his work in principal. He has been interviewed on radio programs and his currently looking for funding to help pursue his research further. Those supporting Ranville’s research include mining engineer, Steve Zou, P.Eng.,PH.D, the Bear River First Nation of Nova Scotia, the Sault Ste. Marie Museum and to learn more you can log on to Ranville’s web site at:

Interview with Mr. Ranville December-2006

Is Oak Island’s treasure really on Birch Island?
First Nations translator deciphers ancient stone as a treasure map

By Angie Zinck- Lunenburg Progress Enterprise – October 18, 2006
WESTERN SHORE – You many have heard about the Da Vinci code, but the Ranville code could be what solves the longest running treasure hunt in recorded history.
Keith Ranville, a First Nations man, has traveled from Winnipeg to Nova Scotia in hopes of unlocking the secret codes on Oak Island. He says he has done so by re-translating one of the stones found on the island over 200 years ago.
The stone was first found in 1803 by the Onslow Company. Found 90 feet down the Money Pit, the stone was believed to be two feet long and 15 inches wide, weighing approximately 175 lb.
Since that time, it has been said that the inscription on the stone read, “forty feet below two million pounds are buried,” as translated by James Leitchi, a professor of languages at Dalhousie University. Some researchers have questioned this translation, as Mr. Leitchi was involved in a treasure hunting company trying to sell stocks.
Today, the actual stone is lost. It was used as a hearthstone in two homes on Oak Island, but it was moved to a Halifax store front where it went missing when the building was torn down. Its last known location was around the Centennial Pool area.
Mr. Ranville used pictures of the stone to decipher its series of shapes, lines and dots to reveal a new translation that reads more like a map.
“I’ve brought some new stuff to the table,” he says, adding that the stone’s etchings could be used to figure out the mystery of Oak Island.
By his translation, much of the digging in the Money Pit area has been a waste of time and money.
“I believe the pit wasn’t meant to go beyond 100 feet,” he says. “I believe it wasn’t meant to go beyond these symbols.”
If one were to take Mr. Ranville’s code and follow it, it would lead you off Oak Island the site of all the treasure hunting for the past 211 years, under the water of the bay and onto the neighboring Birch Island via man-made shafts.
“The instructions at the bottom of the pit tell you about where and how to locate these shafts and I believe they’re in Mahone Bay,” he says.
Mr. Ranville believes the two islands are connected by these shafts. He said that aerial shots of Birch Island prove the island has been touched by human hands. These aerial shots of the 16-acre Birch Island do show a large triangle which takes up a good portion of the island landscape.
“What I want to do is investigate this island where I think these symbols lead to,” he says.
Mr. Ranville has contacted the owner, Christopher Ondaatje, to inquire about doing some soil testing and exploring on the island.
In addition to being the home of the famous treasure, Mr. Ranville believes Birch Island may also be an ancient burial site of those who were involved in the original treasure hiding scheme.
“This is a significant Nova Scotia heritage discovery and that is Canada’s national treasure brought here for our guardianship long before Canada was established,” he says. “We should respect the civilization that is responsible for the makings of these structures.
“They were a very unique culture and may hold the secret to many ancient structures.”
Although he doesn’t know who actually buried the treasure, Mr. Ranville believes Oak Island and Birch Island need to be protected from further change to unlock their true history.
At the time of this interview, Mr. Ranville had yet to hear from Mr. Ondaatje regarding the island. He says he will continue to research the island and its tales of mystery and treasure. Check out Google Earth on the World Wide Web to see satellite photos of Birch Island and its triangle.
Native Treasure Hunter
Keith Ranville



Theory points to possible connection with nearby Birch Island

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia: Friday, July 14th, 2006 - - For the past two centuries, the tunnels of Nova Scotia’s Oak Island have piqued the imagination of historians and treasure hunters alike. Now, a new theory by First Nations researcher Keith Ranville may add fresh speculation to the mystery. Based on a unique reading of an inscription once found in the “Money Pit,” Mr. Ranville believes that the answer to the riddle may be found on nearby Birch Island.

Oak Island, located on the scenic Mahone Bay about an hour’s drive south of the provincial capital of Halifax, has been associated with buried treasure since the late 18th century. Local settlers reportedly found a ship’s tackle block hanging from a tree branch, overhanging a large depression in the ground. Early efforts to dig down failed when the diggers encountered layers of timber every 10 feet. In the ensuing generations, several organized excavation attempts have drilled down nearly 200 feet, en route encountering some artifacts within the staggered layers of logs, clay, putty, charcoal, flagstones and most perplexingly, coconut husks. Among the scores of enthusiastic treasure hunters was a young Franklin Roosevelt, one of the investors in a 1909 excavation attempt.

During the earlier diggings of 1800’s, the tunnel had become flooded by seawater – which many believed was the result booby trap being sprung – thus complicating further digging since then. A drilling effort in the mid 1800’s was said to have uncovered fragments of a gold chain. In 1971, a camera was lowered into the pit and reportedly captured images of wooden chests and human remains.

One of the most fascinating artifacts from the pit was said to be a flat stone recovered at the 90-foot depth, carrying a mysterious inscription. A fragment of stone with similar symbols was found nearby in Smith’s Cove in the 1930’s. The stone tablet itself has gone missing, but a record of its symbols remains. Until now, the consensus is that the symbols are a code translated as “forty feet below two million pounds are buried.” However, Keith Ranville’s theory offers a different interpretation as to the stone’s symbols, which could lead to a new explanation of the Oak Island mystery.

“I believe these symbols have been incorrectly assumed to stand for something else. In the First Nations tradition that I’m a part of, we believe symbols should simply be looked at in and of themselves, rather than thinking of them as codes that have to be cracked,” Mr. Ranville explained. “In the pictograms of Cree Salavics, for example, the images are meant to be descriptive, not abstract.” Using this approach, Mr. Ranville examined the Oak Island symbols and found what may be a set of instructions about a tunnel system involving both Oak Island and nearby Birch Island.

For example, the stone inscription begins with a triangle symbol, which is repeated throughout. Mr. Ranville believes that this represents nearby Birch Island, which has a distinctly triangular clearing on its north shore. Likewise, a symbol showing a circle divided into two hemispheres can be thought of as representing north/south directional markers. A series of dots in singles, pairs and triplets may be quantitative symbols.

Examining all the symbols in this way, Mr. Ranville believes that the symbols on the Money Pit’s stone tablet are actually technical instructions describing the location and layout of a possible underground network involving both Oak Island and Birch Island. “There was a fragment of another stone tablet that was found on Oak Island’s Smith Cove in the 1930’s,” Mr. Ranville explained. “It too has these types of symbols, but one in particular appears to be a Greek symbol designating ‘underwater door’. In conjunction with the other symbols, I believe this points to underwater doors and additional shafts on Birch Island itself.” Smith’s Cove is on the part of Oak Island that is closest to Birch Island, and is said to have yielded several artifacts itself over the years.

“Based on the inscribed symbols, I think we should be looking at Oak Island and Birch Island together in order to solve the mystery. If Birch Island proves to have underwater doors and tunnels around its triangular clearing, then it would be a huge step forward in our understanding of what Oak Island is all about.”

There have been many, occasionally bizarre, theories as to what the Oak Island tunnels may contain: a Masonic vault containing the Holy Grail, Viking or Pirate booty, Inca treasure, the French Royal Crown Jewels, payroll for colonial British soldiers or even the secret writings of Francis Bacon. Mr. Ranville prefers not to speculate. “Those are interesting and sometimes funny theories, but I’d rather just look at the evidence that we do have, and go from there.”

Mr. Ranville is a self-taught researcher born in Manitoba. While living in Vancouver, he became acquainted with the Oak Island mystery and began studying it. In October 2005, he relocated to Nova Scotia to further research and advance his theories on the subject.

Both Oak Island and Birch Island are private property, and access must be sought by permission of the landowners.

# # #

For further information, please contact
Keith Ranville

First Nations National News

Birch Islands Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia

North American Cree Native, Keith Ranville

December 25 2006
Birch Island has the hallmarks of the North American National Treasure, says a Canadian Cree Native Indian. He believes the Triangle impression on Birch Island is a signature of the American pyramid that is on the U.S currency, if the U.S treasury has an answer to why this emblem is on there American currency, they have not really disclosed it to the general public.

Mr. Ranville Is leading the pursuit in this new generation of treasure hunters, his concepts and theories are all original and are under-rated by the media and some Oak Island long standing organizations involvement in this treasure mystery.

While listening to Mr. Ranville, I was fascinated with his journey across Canada and with only limited resources to none; he believes his dreams are the corner stone of understanding the Oak Island treasure mystery. He also believes his dreams are how the ancients fortified the capacity to process knowledge to a conscious of limitations of mechanism’s of our own reasoning & thinking capabilities.

He tells of amazing theories of involvement of Sir Francis Bacon, Templars, and Tumbez or Inca Treasure and how they are all connected, by a community Repository built to deposit ancient spiritual artifacts and treasures of incredible wealth to house these covenanted artifacts.

Keith Ranville born in Winnipeg, Manitoba the province of the buffalo, of Father Elie Ranville and mother Christine Sinclair, at a young age of two, Keith left Winnipeg with his Family to Vancouver B.C he then became a ward of the court at a early age due to the loss of a parent he spent his childhood years & teenage years in group homes and foster homes. With his rocky up bringing he manage to a education himself to a grade of 9 or 10, he later educated himself on his own he then constructed a custom way of learning that he was able to build on and develop a unique way of processing information. What escapes me is his Sinclair Heritage; he explains that his mothers grandfather Albert Sinclair worked for the missionaries in the Cross Lake, Native Reservation in Northern Manitoba, he languished seven languages and what is known of him is that he traveled from the United States.

In conclusion, Mr. Ranville’s heritage background, there can be a link to him to the Inca’s and the Templars there is no evidence that Keith’s great grandfather Albert Sinclair was a Freemason. I can only speculate that he was a genius and his linguist abilities were handed down to Keith. Also with Keith’s tenacious Scottish Heritage and spiritual Native Heritage may just be the link that is the combination to unlocking the secrets to the Oak Island Treasure Mystery.

If you ever have the chance to meet this individual, the depth of his understandings will captivate your imagination, he has added a tremendous new spark to a once dying oak Island Treasure Mystery. His Popularity is drawing in crowds of people to this mystery like never before, the first by only one person. When it comes to treasure hunting he is far, the coast to coast the most fascinating treasure hunter of North America.


Mr. Ranville is a self-taught researcher born in Manitoba. While living in Vancouver B.C, he became acquainted with the Oak Island mystery


Anonymous said...



New: Oak Island Secret Treasure Cipher
Recently Mr. Ranville made it known of a translation of a watermark cipher that he broken down from top to bottom descriptively, while Mr. Ranville was investigating the Oak Island treasure mystery’ he came across a watermark in a book the Oak Island Mystery by the Fanthorpes. The theory of Sir Francis Bacon and his relation to Oak Island is not relatively new, many books on Oak Island mention Sir Francis Bacon as contender of who? As a possible suspect that he may have involvement in the Oak Island treasure mystery that is now in it’s 212th year of many searches for the trophy treasure that past treasure hunters failed to grasp. Perhaps with more advanced treasure-hunting equipment and exploring Mr. Ranville’s Oak islands research concepts will give us a better understanding of this enigma. It is said Sir Francis Bacons personal writings were and preserved in mercury and hidden some where in the Oak Island treasure mystery?

Keith Ranville a Canadian First Nations Native, is known for his translation’s of the Oak Island Money pit symbols, and for his newly discovery the Birch Island triangle.
Mr. Ranville explains his theory in diagrams:

Keith Ranville