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Joel Stone Heritage Park, & The Gananoque Public Beach (Group Clean Up)

During the start of this past summer of 2022. My partner Erin and I took our son Caspian to the Gananoque local public beach ( Joel Stone Heritage Park) to have some fun in the sun. I had recently bought a metal detector and had decided to bring it to the beach that day in search of a treasure chest full of treasure.

It was a shock to find not only did the beach not have much in the way of treasure, but was also loaded with some dangerous items to boot.

To be completely honest, it almost made me give up on this new to me hobby altogether.

Instead, I did not give up on the hobby. In turn, I decided to hit up several other beaches in the region and see how those beaches faired in comparison in regards to cleanliness?

I have gone to approx 20 separate beaches this year to detect. unfortunately, In my opinion, It turns out that the public beach in Gananoque had been the worst of the bunch.

So I decided to create a Local Facebook group to locate other Detectorists in the area, first to possibly have some other detectorists to go detecting with, learn the hobby, and organize some possible group hunts, and also to possibly hold an annual clean up of a hand picked local beach area. Who knows, maybe this will catch on and other locals may join our group, if for no other reason than to just help keep our beaches clean.

James Mathias

A few weeks ago I put out, to our local Facebook group, (called The “Dirt Diggers of Kingston “ (History unearthed) the idea of doing a group beach clean up day.

Set for Monday November 14th I put in motion the invite for people to come out and do a cleanup day of the garbage I knew lay just below the sandy surface at Joel Stone public beach.

Armed with Coffee, & Donuts I arrived to the beach to meet with a couple of the groups members, Marjorie and her husband Nick.

Marjorie & Nick

Marjorie and Nick immediately showed they were there to help, as I had my arms full with gear and goodies for the group. They kindly took some gear from me and we walked from the parking lot towards the beach.

Soon behind us was group member and YouTuber Ryan Pugh, loaded with metal detecting gear and 3 cameras.

Here is a link to Ryan’s channel

Ryan Pugh

The 4 of us had a quick meet and greet where we all introduced ourselves properly had a coffee and I gave Marjorie & Nick a quick tutorial on how to use one of my extra Minelab metal detecting machines, the Vanquish 540 was the one they chose to use as Marjorie was looking for an upgrade to her own machine. And the Vanquish 540 was in the price range she was looking to spend.

After our meet and greet we all headed out to separate beach areas and started our clean up. Once we were underway, group member Gary arrived ready to help out with his Garett AtMax Pro detector.


It wasn’t long before people were pulling all kinds of garbage out from just beneath the sand. Now Marjorie and Nick worked as a team. The Vanquish 540 was working overtime, beeping every few feet in their respective area.

Every time I looked over, one of them were bent over digging vigorously, while the other used a pin pointer to detect the targets as they became exposed. They both put on one heck of a show.

After a little while, Nick jumped in & started using one of the other spare machines I brought.

The group dug for several hours without a break and they all were finding a few treasures amongst the junk.

At around 1pm I had gathered the group of us at a nearby picnic table to show our finds and hand out some prizes

-Ryan won a $5 Tim Hortons gift card for “coolest finds”, (with the variety of international foreign coins,)

– Gary won $5 Tim Hortons gift card with the most interesting piece, “none of us could actually tell what it was” ha ha ha.

And Marjorie and Nick won A $5 Tim Hortons gift card and a $25 Mastercard Gift card for sharpest item removed from the beach and for travelling the furthest to get to the beach cleaning day.

Our finds after only a couple hours

Well the finds in the above pic show exactly what my original concerns were all about. And I’m so happy and proud of the group members for taking the time out of their day to come and help clean it up and make it safer for the public to use.

I know some people have a negative view on metal detectorists, I have had people come up to me personally and essentially call me a vulture, their view is, people with metal detectors find items that have been lost by someone else. Some of those items may have been very sentimental to someone and can be quite valuable in some cases, some Detectorists prosper from these finds. Also people have a negative view on detectorists in general because they think we harm public grounds, parks and beaches.

Well it’s true that some detectorists will prosper from a few finds but, the reality of it in my personal experience is that every detectorist I have come across is adamant that they take all their garbage with them from any property they detect at, & they all, are extremely conscious of how they put the soil/sand back exactly how they found it, fill in their holes, and how they properly dispose of the trash they find.

I can personally tell you that it takes between 20 &100 holes dug to find an item of interest and almost 1000 holes dug to find an item worth any kind of value.

I can also tell you, if there is a public park, playground, school yard, or sports field around, a detectorist has been there. Could you tell that most of those fields have been picked through and dug up in almost every square inch from detectorists? I didn’t think so. Because they have been.

In fact, there is an organization called The Ring Finders, A global group of detectorists that people can call if they have lost in item that is sentimental or of some value to them. %99 of the population don’t even know a resource like The Ring Finders even exist. There are literally detectorists in almost every area that are willing to help someone out. Yes there is usually a donation required or finders fee associated with using someone from that organization but not always. Often, many of the detectorists on that site are generally happy just to reunite people with their lost items.

There is much more garbage being removed from public areas by detectorists than treasures found. That said there definitely were a few treasures found on our dig at Gananoque public beach too. Nothing of great value but definitely treasures to any detectorist.

I personally found some great little goodies along with my junk finds. A Belgium 5P piece coin, and an English 5P piece coins. Those were my finds of interest of the day. Oh I did find a child’s hot wheels car as well.

While Ryan found a coin spill of approx 8 coins ranging from French coins and a Turkish coin as well as some Canadian clad.. I think everyone else ended up with some other modern Canadian clad too.

James’s foreign coin finda
Ryan’s coin finds of the day

This was a selfless act there was no media, no incentive for people to show up. No one knew that I had some small tokens of appreciation for them at the end, (AKA prizes) to give out, no one outside of the small Facebook group of 25 people knew we were even going to show up and help the community by helping to clean their beach. It was just a few individuals that took the time out of their busy lives to come and help clean a beach with no recognition, and they all deserve a round of applause.

A few of our group members

Also a huge shout out to Ryan Pugh for getting the footage and taking some incredible photography. I think everyone appreciated that, I know I did.

Photo credits by Ryan Pugh, & James Mathias


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