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'This is the mother lode of silverware': Relic hunter finds buried treasure from a Vancouver icon

You could even say it's forking awesome

When Christian Laub planned a recent trip out into the woods, the hope was to find a few old beer bottles.

Instead, he found dozens of rare utensils from Vancouver's most famous hotel.

Laub, who goes by vancityrelics on Instagram, is a bottle digger; he goes out and finds old bottles buried by time, though sometimes he finds other things at the same time.

The search

In December 2022, he and a new digger, Julien Hicks, decided to follow up on a tip.

"We were following a heritage trail through the forest; we were chasing a tip on a rusted-out car spotted deep in the forest," says Laub. They were on the lookout for some 1920s beer bottles.

They struggled to find the car that they were told about, but then they spotted a different one just peeking out.

"It was actually one little metal piece of frame that was sticking out beside a fallen stump," Laub says.

They poked around the old car with Laub's probe and found there was something more under all the foliage and forest floor. They were able to pull up a metal panel; Laub thinks it was an old Chevy that had been sitting there for 60 or 80 years.

Underneath the panel, they probed again, and noticed there seemed to be something more buried beneath.

Unburied treasure

"The first thing I found was the stack of custard cups," Laub says. "That was proof there was something there."

Then they found the first piece of silverware, and that's when he started recording video.

"That's when I knew hit the jackpot," he says.

In the video, as Hicks pulls out handfuls of spoons, forks, and knives, Laub says "This is the mother lode of silverware."

Thanks to the relative dryness of the forest floor, a bag (which had mostly fallen apart), and the metal panel covering the utensils they were in pretty good condition.

In all, they pulled about 85 forks, knives, spoons, and ladles out of the forest floor, along with six custard cups and a couple of liquor bottles.

It appears there are about a dozen sets of silverware, which is silverplated over brass. That includes utensils like pickle forks and dessert spoons.

"This is one of those metal-detecting jealousy finds," Laub says. "This is a find that a metal detector should have found."

Even more unusual is the fact all the utensils are stamped with a Hotel Vancouver logo. Laub believes the silverware is from the current (which is the third) Hotel Vancouver, which opened in 1939. The logo is similar to the CN railway at the time, which owned the hotel.

"To find a piece of cutlery with a stamp on it is very rare," Laub says. "Those are the ones everyone wants to find but no one finds them."

But how did it end up there?

It's unclear how old the utensils are, but Laub believes they were left where he found them in the early 1950s, since that's when the liquor bottles are from. That would make the silverware around 70 years old at least, and it could be older it they may have been used for years before being lost.

As for how the utensils came to be there, Laub's best guess is that they were stolen, and then stashed in the forest for safekeeping.

"It looked almost like a pre-geocache," says Laub. "Where someone stashed them for some future person to find."

Unintentionally, Laub and Hicks were the future people to find it.

What now?

Laub and Hicks each took some home and will be keeping a set each.

The rest is a bit more uncertain. Some people have already contacted them, asking about getting their own sets or pieces.

Laub is also wondering if the current Hotel Vancouver - which is operated by global hotel chain Fairmont - would want any, but he says he hasn't reached out to them yet.

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