Hunting for treasure on Oak Island

NSCC community helps bring History Channel’s hit show to international audiences

Hunting for treasure on Oak Island

Doug Crowell (far right), the IT Service Lead at Annapolis Valley Campus, sits around a table in the War Room, viewing some of the many Oak Island finds. In the photo from left to right: Alex Lagina, Marty Lagina, Rick Lagina, Dave Blankenship, the late Dan Blankenship, Gary Drayton and Doug Crowell.

"With extreme gratitude and respect the Oak Island family would like to acknowledge Terri Lynn Kearsey, Doug Crowell, and the many other NSCC grads for their contributions, their passion and their embodiment of the STRIVE logo of NSCC.” ~ Rick Lagina

Fast Fact

NSCC students, under the guidance of their instructors, have also conducted near-infrared aerial, lidar, side-scan sonar surveys and sub-bottom profiling scans of Oak Island and the ocean floor surrounding the island. Students have also created 3D models using terrestrial lidar and resurveyed the 32 lots that subdivide the island.

In 2016, students and faculty from NSCC's Centre of Geographic Sciences conducted a topo-bathy lidar survey of Oak Island. This image is a digital elevation model from that work.

By day, he’s a mild-mannered IT professional. By night he’s an international treasure hunter.

Doug Crowell, the IT Service Lead at Annapolis Valley Campus, is a regular on the History Channel’s number one series, The Curse Of Oak Island. Working alongside Rick and Marty Lagina — two brothers from Michigan with a life-long interest in the Nova Scotian mystery — Doug serves as the popular show’s oft-called-upon area historian.

“Something out of the ordinary occurred there,” says Doug. “It has left us with many questions — who, what, why and when? Those four unknowns have made Oak Island one of the most enduring mysteries ever, and all in our own backyard.”

Doug’s not the only NSCC community member helping to solve the centuries-old mystery. In fact, there are several grads and faculty members working on the show. As the Research Producer for Prometheus Entertainment, Terri Lynn Kearsey — a grad of Ivany Campus’s Radio Television Journalism program — draws on her training and innate investigative skills to ensure the show continues drawing in viewers with a mix of drama, intrigue and history.

“Since high school, I’ve wanted to work in TV,” says Terri Lynn. “I like working to put a story together and seeing how it unfolds. With Oak Island, it's a bit different, because we never know what’s going to happen and what we will need to do to unfold the story.”

Treasure found

For more than 200 years, treasure hunters have flocked to Nova Scotia in an attempt to find the hiding place of, what many believe to be, the greatest treasure in history. The search has even drawn the attention of notable individuals such as John Wayne and Franklin D. Roosevelt (to name a few). The fascination to locate the treasure has cost millions of dollars and sadly claimed the lives of at least six people.

Steve Guptill, a two-time NSCC grad and current Geomatics Technical Assistant at the Centre of Geographic Sciences, has had a front row seat to many of these finds as Rick Lagina’s personal surveyor.

"It’s been an amazing experience,” says Steve. “I’m part of the longest treasure hunt in history. It’s brought together people at the top of their fields, from all over the world. The technology used, research conducted and exploration is greater than anyone could imagine.”

The group has uncovered bits of pottery and paper, pieces of human bones and remnants of an ancient coffer dam, which may have supported the construction of a series of flood tunnels. Other interesting finds include coins, broaches, buttons and lumber — believed to be from sea-going vessels. And, if the rumours coming from Nova Scotia’s South Shore are true, they’ve found gold.

As the show’s 1st Assistant Director & Field Coordinator, grad Bruce Zwicker says that the underground structures are the most exciting finds for him, “There is so much history on the island, and searchers have been looking for the last couple of hundred years.”

Season five brought Doug, Terri Lynn, Steve, Bruce and show regulars Alex Lagina, Peter Fornetti, and Charles Barkhouse to NSCC’s Centre of Geographic Sciences (COGS). While there, the group used historic maps to shed light on a theory that Samuel de Champlain purposely omitted Oak Island from his map of the Acadian coast.

The W.K. Morrison Special Collections, which are housed in the COGS Library, have proven invaluable in the search,” says Doug.

This season

While Doug, Terri Lynn, Steve and Bruce are under contract by the History Channel and can’t divulge too much about what happened on the mysterious island this past summer, they do agree that it’s worth the wait.

Rick Lagina says that he and his brother, Marty, are grateful to the group for their many contributions to the success of the hunt and the show. “From the Oak Island family to the NSCC family, we say thank you for sharing Terri Lynn and Doug, along with their colleagues, as we move to solve the Oak Island mystery.”

Tune in when The Curse Of Oak Island airs on the History Channel on Sundays.

06/03/19

"With extreme gratitude and respect the Oak Island family would like to acknowledge Terri Lynn Kearsey, Doug Crowell, and the many other NSCC grads for their contributions, their passion and their embodiment of the STRIVE logo of NSCC.” ~ Rick Lagina

Fast Fact

NSCC students, under the guidance of their instructors, have also conducted near-infrared aerial, lidar, side-scan sonar surveys and sub-bottom profiling scans of Oak Island and the ocean floor surrounding the island. Students have also created 3D models using terrestrial lidar and resurveyed the 32 lots that subdivide the island.

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