Modern day treasure hunters who don't get the chance to search for sunken treasure while scuba diving in the Carribean or drilling on Canada's infamous Oak Island on the east coast, may have fun diving into the world of geocaching.
Geocaching is a modern-day treasure hunt using GPS coordinates, a GPS receiver, a mobile phone, or other navigational techniques and tools, to seek out hidden containers known as caches. It's been around for over 25 years, and as of 2023, there are over 3,000,000 active caches worldwide.
The Turtle Mountain-Souris Plains Heritage Association (TMSPHA) currently has 28 active geocaches strategically placed across the Westman Region within their catchment area, with another handful soon to be added in the Killarney area. All to inspire folks to connect with local history in a unique and meaningful way.
"For TMSPHA what we've chosen for our geocache locations we looked at areas that have history but not necessarily in a town, or with a big fancy building, but just a unique place," explains JoAnne Juce, Administrative Assistant for the local Heritage Society. "So, we're choosing to share history by selecting locations that have historical prominence of some kind."
Juce gives an example!
"There's a tiny fragment of the Boundary Commission Trail still visible to an ordinary person," she explains. "It's on private property but you can see it from the road. So, we've chosen to put a geocache very close by on public land, so that you're drawn to come there and just get the feeling that, yes, people walked on this trail 200 years ago or a hundred years ago."
It's important to note that THSPHA hide their geocaches on public land such as a road allowance or a ditch. "So, we check with the municipality for their permission before we put a geocache in a certain spot," explains Juce. "If it's private land, we take special care to get written permission, but we do very few private sites because properties can change hands and we don't want to go down that path. We do try to stay at the edge of that privately owned property."
To some this might sound easy. However, these hidden treasures can be challenging to find. Like most treasures, they're not obvious to the wandering eye. Treasure hunters must be able to read the coordinates and figure out where that secret cache is hidden.
The TMSPHA geocache crew hides a waterproof box with a postcard that shares the actual history of that very site. Upon reading the story on the back of the postcard, participants are invited to write their name and comments in the logbook included in the box. Folks are also invited to leave something behind as a kind of memento about themselves.
Participants then go to the geocache website and log their find there.
"So, this is a whole subculture of people who want to explore the countryside and look for cool treasures," adds Juce. "For us it's a way to bring people to our countryside in our local area to experience a bit of the history that occurred there."
"Geocaching is worldwide, so we're just part of a much, much larger movement!"
Killarney-Turtle Mountain is the most recent addition to the TMSPHA catchment area and so those geocache sites are being developed now and will hopefully be put in place this spring.
Please listen to more with JoAnne Juce below!
Check out the Turtle Mountain-Souris Plains Heritage Association geocache page HERE!