Calgary treasure hunter's curiosity draws him to partially drained Glenmore Reservoir

A Calgary treasure hunter scavenging the exposed bottom of the Glenmore Reservoir has been digging up scores of fishing hooks and golf balls — and even a penguin.

Chris MacDonald combs newly exposed shoreline to find lots of old trinkets

Chris MacDonald is combing the newly exposed bottom of the Glenmore Reservoir using his metal detector. (Chris MacDonald)

A Calgary treasure hunter scavenging the exposed bottom of the Glenmore Reservoir has been digging up scores of fishing hooks and golf balls — and even a penguin statue.

The reservoir levels are the lowest they've been in decades in order to accommodate flood-mitigation work on the dam.

That's made for an unusual view for the thousands of commuters who pass by each day. But Chris MacDonald sees it through his metal-detecting eyes.

"A lot of shoreline was exposed to give me the opportunity to get to places that have never been accessed before," he told the Calgary Eyeopener. "I was curious to see what was down there."

Chris MacDonald has found all sorts of trinkets at the Glenmore Reservoir, like this odd doll. (Chris MacDonald)

He's been going down there for the past few weeks, walking the shoreline with his metal detector. 

MacDonald is a proud member of the Calgary Metal Detecting Club, which he said helps satisfy his never-ending curiosity.

The Glenmore Reservoir could hold a great deal to discover, he said, as it was the site of renowned early settler Sam Livingston's ranch, which is now preserved in part at Heritage Park. The dam site may hold many artifacts, MacDonald said.

"It was basically called Sam Livingston's garbage site because anything got thrown out there: wagon wheels, any types of broken materials, but there was also some goodies out there," he said.

He has found vehicle parts and beer cans, scrap metal and more than 150 fishing lures in a rainbow of colours. He's also unearthed an old watch, some coins, a few handfuls of golf balls and a small statue of a penguin.

MacDonald took this video of his discoveries:

He also came across a painted rock and a 1963 Pepsi bottle poking out of the ground — so called "surface finds."

"There was no Viking swords or any type of treasure but it was just neat to find stuff in general," MacDonald said.

"In light of all these reality TV shows ... Pawn Stars or American Pickers, we have all these treasures that we find in seemingly garbage — and they're worth a lot of money."

Water levels in the Glenmore Reservoir are low to accommodate work on the dam. (Chris MacDonald)

MacDonald hasn't finished searching yet. He'll continue combing the exposed shoreline and collecting neat bits of one-time garbage, or Calgary's history.

"So I think there's an element of the unknown and surprise that, what if there's an old musket ball or an old gun or an old saber? What if there is treasure down there?" he said.

"And I think there's an element of curiosity that's satisfied by going out there."

With files from Paul Karchut and the Calgary Eyeopener.