P.E.I. man believes he has found oldest European artifact, wants verification

After 30 years, the high-pitched squeal of the metal detector still evokes excitement for Rick Barton.

Treasure hunter has contacted the Royal Ontario Museum for help in determining age of items

Rick Barton sits at his dining room table in Pinette, P.E.I., with artifacts he has found. (Lindsay Carroll/CBC)

After 30 years, the high-pitched squeal of the metal detector still evokes excitement for Rick Barton.

The resident of Pinette, P.E.I. still gets fired up when he hears the sound his heavy black metal detector makes when it locates something. 

"That sound means silver or copper," said Barton, his face lighting up when he heard the shrill sound. 

"Oh yes, and then you start digging, and you never know what it never know." 

Barton said he won his first metal detector in a poker game, and was hooked. It led him to recently find a treasure trove of historic items in eastern P.E.I.
Rick Barton says he has found coins dating back to the 1600s. (Lindsay Carroll/CBC)

Barton said he has spent hundreds of hours on a 39-acre farm field near Lord Selkirk Park and the Belfast Highland Greens golf course. It was there he found over 1500 items, most of which he believes were used by the French before the expulsion in 1753.

Historic value wins over cash

Barton's dining room table serves as a make-shift museum, covered in artifacts. He has each item carefully packaged with dates and descriptions.
Rick Barton says these two seven-pound cannon balls may date back to the Acadian Expulsion in 1750s. (Lindsay Carroll/CBC)

Among the items are a dozen coins, with dates stamped on them as early as 1700. 

He donated a coin from 1682 to the Garden of the Gulf museum.

He also has a few coins he believes were handmade silver pieces dating back to the 1680s. The largest coin dates back to 1808.

Barton said he saw a similar one on eBay for $1,000. But he said his goal isn't to make money.

"My belief is that this stuff has more historical value than monetary value. I want to share this with kids in the future. I'm showing it to school groups, and I'm letting all my neighbours and friends and people who want to see it, see it."

Oldest P.E.I. artifact?

For children, the favourite artifacts are two seven-pound iron cannon balls, about the size of bowling balls. Barton said he believes those date back to the beginning of the Acadian Expulsion in the 1750s.

Rick Barton says he believes this silver brooch dates back the 15th century. (Lindsay Carroll/CBC)
Barton said his favourite item isn't the flashiest, but it could be the oldest. It's a handmade silver brooch the size of a quarter, that he believes dates back to the 1400s.

"I believe it to be the oldest European item ever to be found on P.E.I. It belongs in a museum ... I've talked to a jeweller and he believes it's old, it's not a fake ... it could be an heirloom, but who would pass that down 500 years?"

Barton said he has a theory as to how the antique item could have appeared 300 years before the first European settlers.

The Prince Henry Sinclair Society of North America believe Prince Henry Sinclair left Scotland and landed at Chedabucto Bay, Nova Scotia in 1398. Barton said he believes the travellers may have left it behind, after replenished their water supply at a natural spring near Lord Selkirk Park.

The Island's provincial archaeologists have taken photos of all of Barton's artifacts, but they haven't dated them.

That could be coming soon though.

Barton said he recently sent a request to the Royal Ontario Museum to verify the age of some of the oldest items.