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Canadian History & How It Helps Determine Where to Metal Detect.


            After My first year of Metal detecting is now under my belt, I find myself getting more excited and interested in finding older relics, and items of age, rather than items of modern age and current monetary value. So, for the season of 2023 I have decided to take a whole different approach to my searches.

First, I figured that I must study the history of human migration into north America, more specifically, Canada, and even more specifically, older settlement sites used by early settlers into Canada. To find out how people started to make it to the area in which I reside today? First, I have to find out who, how, and when people came to the areas I want to be able to metal detect.

So, lets start off by figuring out when people occupied Canada? When I grew up it was thought that there were human beings during the dinosaur age? (cavemen). Was this even possible? I should state that I am no historian (obviously), but the internet is a great source and has a wealth of information on the subject. As we are aware Alberta is a great source to get the history of the dinosaur age and roughly what happened during that time. I am now a believer that human beings did not co-exist with the dinosaurs at all, in fact the dinosaurs became extinct approx., or somewhere in the neighbourhood of at least 64 million years before Homo Erectus, or Neanderthals (humans) even evolved at all. Human-like primates did not appear until about 5 million years ago, with Homo Sapiens evolving in the last 200,000 years. So, it would be extremely unlikely to find anything related to humans prior to this timeline, especially when metal detecting since Humans only started creating metals and metal objects, such as tools (like swords), or trading items (like coins) approximately 6000BC so how long is that really, (6000BC)?

(BC, AD, CE, and BCE are all used in the same way as the traditional abbreviations AD and BC. 1st. AD is short for Anno Domini, Latin for in the year of the Lord. This abbreviation is used to talk about historical timeframes from after the year Jesus Christ was born.

 2. BC is an abbreviation of Before Christ birth. Because AD and BC hold religious (Christian) connotations, many prefer to use the more modern and neutral CE, (which is an abbreviation for Common Era, or BCE (which is short for, – Before Common Era) Since I grew up as a catholic and was not taught the CE, or BCE I will stay with the traditional way of BC, & AD for the purpose of this article.

So how long exactly is 6000BC? Well, Jesus was said to be born on day 1, right? Well, we are in 2023-AD today, so Jesus was born around, 2023 years ago, which means 6000BC is around 8023 years ago from today’s day in age.

We also know or believe due to science that humans as we know them to be today, more like you and I and are also known as (Home neandathlis/Neanderthals), which were perhaps a more advanced type of “cavemen”. They lived from about 1.5 million years ago? to as recently as 250,000 years ago and possibly even up to as recently as only 40,000 years ago from what we know as today’s day and age, or at least it is thought.

As a Detectorist anything prior to 40,000 years ago would be almost impossible to find and even up to as recently as 10,000 years ago would be unlikely, simply due to the fact, because it is thought that Humans didn’t start using any materials to make tools even stone axes until around 10,000 years ago. It wasn’t until approximately 6000BC when humans figured out how to harvest gold and start to make things out of it. This is only (as we mentioned earlier) only about 8023years ago.

Metals found and utilized by humans are approximate & are as follows

Ok moving forward, what does the above chat tell us? It tells me that the likelihood of finding anything more than 8023 years old with a metal detector is going to be almost impossible (for anyone) accept in the rare case where studies on humanities history would be completely wrong.

As it turns out, Canada was first thought to be occupied by humans approximately only 12,000 years ago. These were primal humans that came into North America on a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska. It was said that these humans arrived in great numbers during this period due to the retreating ice age and large animals were able to cross over vast land bridges linking the 2 continents. Today the ice has revealed land, and it separates the 2 Continents by approximately 1000km of sea water. Once people arrived on North American ground, they spread out and headed south into the Americas following food sources such as large mammals. Canada wasn’t occupied greatly until the ice age receded enough for people to occupy its lands. These were the forerunners of the Indigenous peoples who inhabited Canada at the time of first contact with Europeans when they arrived in 1534.

Exploration of Canada by Europeans began with the Norse in the late 10th century on the country’s East Coast. Following Jacques Cartier’s arrival in 1534, (only 488 years ago) over the course of the next three centuries, British and French explorers gradually moved further west. Commercial, resource-based interests often drove exploration, for example, a westward route to Asia and later, the fur trade. By the mid-19th century (1801-to-1900) most of the main geographical features of Canada had been mapped by European colonists.

So why is all this important when it comes to metal detecting?  Well, 1st off, after following so many people on social media, or metal detecting forums, I wasn’t sure what items were rare and or exceptional finds? Is an item really all that special if it is only 100 years old or maybe 500 years old is a great find? Or like a friend of mine who recently found a copper arrowhead that could posiblyd date as far back as nearly 900 years ago. As it turns out in my opinion, a find of more than 100 years old would be considered a decent find, anything prior to Canada becoming a country in 1867 (155.5 years ago) would be a great find, and anything over 200 years old would be an exceptional find in Canada. I’m not talking about a piece of iron or a nail, even though those items are interesting in their own rights. Some of those items can tell you about an area! I’m talking about relics of interest, coins, pendants, swords, pommels, old military buttons, early war items ect… or like my friend found, (an old arrowhead possibly dated from 500-900 years ago etc.… those items are extremely rare and exciting to find. Last year I did find 2 items that I would consider to be great finds. The first was a small coin, thought to be a fake by some people and others tell me its genuine. Either way after my research I at least believe the coin in question to be from the time period stamped on the coin its self. (1865) a very small Mexican copper coin. I had originally thought this coin to be made of gold which it turn out is not.

The 2nd item in question was what I believe is an old military badge of some sort? It has not been determined as such; however the item closely resembles some artifacts I had found online that were related to the British army when they had in fact been in Canada in the early 1800’s and possibly even from the war of 1812 itself? But I am not sure.

Pic from online (and not quite the same as the one I found

The item did however come from the shores of Lake Ontario and in a spot that would have been defended by the British during that period. The War of 1812 (which lasted from 1812 to 1814) was a military conflict between the United States and Great Britain. As a colony of Great Britain, Canada was swept up in the War of 1812 and was invaded several times by the Americans. The war was fought in Upper Canada, Lower Canada, on the Great Lakes and the Atlantic, and in the United States.

Now if you are someone that knows if this item is not from that time period, then don’t tell me because Id prefer to think it was in my own head lol.


So, how do we determine where (in general) might be a good potential search site for old relics and artifacts? 1st, we need to follow the history of human movement try to figure out the age of the areas you wish to search. 2nd, Find the old settlements. & 3rd, we need to get the permissions to dig those sites. You may be lucky enough to find local beaches, parks, and other areas you can potentially dig at without permission however if you have found those sites? I can guarantee someone else has also found them way before you have. I’m not saying not to dig those sites! All I’m saying is, the likelihood of there being much in the way of old artifacts on those types of sites are much less likely. Of course, this only matters if you are trying to search for old relics and old items. These kinds of sites can hold a wealth of modern age goodies.

As I live in South Central Ontario, around the Kingston area, I know this area is rich in history. Kingston, Ontario, Canada is a city rich in history and culture. We were first settled in the 1600s on First Nation lands named Katarokwi, (later called Cataraqui), and were later referred to as King’s Town in honour of King George III (until it was shortened to Kingston in 1788). This area and its surrounding areas hold a great deal of history and make it a perfect area for metal detecting.

This map shows a rough timeline as to when the area was discovered.

This shows explorers up to 1542 (approximately 480 years ago) but it only shows to montreal. I was looking for when settlers got into the Kingston region.

It wasn’t until around 1615 AD, (406 years ago) when settlers made it down the Ottawa river into the mouth of Lake Ontario. This makes complete sense as to why settlers would set up a home base around Kingston Ontario area. This way they would have been able to set up shop and head out in different direction for exploration purposes. Now there would have been native Americans in this area at the time which would have been good for trade. Furs, food, and weapons would have made sense at the time for trade purposes. This does not however make sense as to why my friend found an item that could have dated back between 500 & up to 900 years old though, unless it was brought in from someone as a family heirloom or for some other reason I can not think of at the moment.

So, now that we have a rough timeline as to when humans were in my global area, how they got here, and what timeline makes sense as to when these people would have been using metalic items? (step 1), now I must figure out where would have been likely areas to stat looking for properties I should detect at? So I look at more detailed maps of specific areas, old maps, dating back over 100 years if I can find them. I must find out what would have made sense for people to have made prolonged rest stops for weeks, months, and even years at a time besides major port like major cities as we know them today.

Where to find old charts and maps?

If you look online there are several resources one can use in order to acquire old local to your area maps. The problem im finding is that unless you order and spend money on them, you cant find one for free with too much detail.


You almost need an old topographical chart of the area, if you cant find one then you will have to take a look at google earth zoomed in and try to locate hidden old buildings, once you find one then you would have to go to the owner of that property and try to get permission to detect on that property! This can prove difficult at times. During 2023 it is my goal to be able to get permissions to specific properties in my area to detect on. I have already started by knocking on doors and if no one is home then leaving a letter in the mailbox to explain things.


Example of Letter


My name is James Mathias. I stopped by your property today to drop this letter and ask you permission for access to be able to metal detect some areas of your property. I know this can be a bit of a strange request, so I wanted to give you a bit of the history as to why I’m asking now.

I am a hobbyist/metal detectorist, I live and work here locally. I am a father of 3 boys and I have an interest in the history to the area and enjoy unearthing some of it for nothing more than the enjoyment of it. I belong to a group of metal detectorists called the Ring Finders which is a worldwide organization that helps people recover valuable & lost items. I have just started with them this year and will be taking more of a roll with them in the spring of 2023. I also belong to a group of local detectorists that have formed a local club called The Dirt Digger’s Of Kingston.

As I am sure you are aware, this area is quite rich in history. I have become very interested in the artifacts that can be found throughout the area, and although I often search throughout public areas, such as beaches, parks, playgrounds, and shallow water areas, I have found that the best items can be found on private property after acquiring the proper permissions. It is this time of the year (winter months) where detectorists tent to ask for permissions for the following season. This is why you are getting this letter today.

I have started some social media platforms over the past year (2022) to share some of my finds. You can find & view my platforms at the following links

Facebook – Dirt Diggers Of Kingston (A local group), Or

“Treasure Hunting Legend” ————————————-( which is my personal metal detecting FaceBook Page) ,

Instagram – Treasure_Hunting_Legend, YouTube – @Treasurehuntinglegend,

Tik Tok –Treasure Hunting Legend

or you can read about my metal detecting adventures on my blog site @

I stopped by, because I have been interested to ask If you would mind if I searched some of your property this coming year during 2023? I have passed by several times & I believe it to be a potentially decent site to find some hidden artifacts.

We can discuss what is to be done with Any “valuable finds” prior to permission being granted between myself (the detectorist) & you (the homeowner). I would also ask that if I am allowed to detect your property, that I can film my finds for social media purposes with my own cell phone or a GOPRO. All garbage I find, will be taken with me and discarded of properly, & of course any holes dug will be filled back in properly as best to my ability & so you wouldn’t even notice anyone had been there to begin with. If you would like to chat further? Then please reach out to me at the following James Mathias 613-876-8167 — OR — email:



I have yet to see if this works, but I have had the entire winter to narrow down my plan of approach to attaining home owners/ & property permissions. I have sent out and dropped off in person around 30 letters in the area, now im waiting to see if I get any property owners reaching out to me in response. So far it has not been very successful lol.

In the meantime I will learn my newest detector (the Nokta Legend) over the winter months to try and get a head start on the learning curve of the machine. \

So far this is what I have learned.




I have some more testing to do but this is what I have so far from tests over the winter. The basics of what Im finding are, other than modern, or newer Canadian $1.00 coins (loonies), a few other modern canadian coins that display lower VDI#’s, and few old military items, the best VDI#’s are between 20 to 50 and ring up with a high pitch. This said a few junk items, such as foil, bottlecaps, pull tabs and some ammunition will also ring up with decent VDI#’s as well which tells me I will have to dig some trash. I am assuming that digging trash is unavoidable with any machine, but can be lessened if you understand your machine and what its telling you.

So it is now a couple months of writing this blog post on and off. It is now the middle of March and many interesting advancements to the season have already happened. 1st I have worked hard this winter as I suggested above, & I have now succeeded in gathering permissions for the 2023 season. To date I now have 8 permissions to hunt this year. Most of the properties are from friends in the region that I already knew, however 2 of the properties are not. They were from random people I cold called, or rather knocked on their door and had to introduce myself. To be honest, that was harder than I thought. Also I now have permission to hunt a local provincial park in the region.

And 2nd, and so far what I am most proud of, is the fact I have created a metal detecting club in the Kingston area. The area for the club will include all the Lennox & Addington and KFL&A regions. Essentially between Brockville all the way over to Trenton along the 401 HWY corridor. The club should become official on the 18th of March 2023 when I have called approx. 30 people to a meeting in Picton Ontario to gather and discuss my ideas about starting a club and to hear out other peoples ideas as well. I will write again once the meeting has taken place and we have either started a club or put a kybosh on the whole thing.

And 3rd I have started the process of hosting a metal detecting event in the fall of 2023 on a nearby island. You can read about the event in our website ( The Dirt Diggers Of Kingston, or /events )

So as you can see, you can take this hobby to a whole new level if you desire. It can be as involved as any other hobby out there or it can be as simple as you want it to be. It is completely up to the individual on how they want the hobby to interact within their own lives. It is turning out to be such a versatile hobby for me and I am really enjoying the time and effort I get to put into it.



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