This entire summer and into October, my street was under construction for the installation of new water mains, a new road and sidewalks. On a daily basis the house trembled because of the large equipment. It was odd to see the street transformed into a low, dark-hued channel where the street and sidewalk once was.
With the original earth exposed, it seemed natural to wonder about this historic neighbourhood’s past. Earlier street construction had revealed traces of an historic Aboriginal encampment near the south end of Watt Street, and early river lots of Selkirk settlers stretched back from the river.
One day in September, a fellow appeared who was sweeping the open earth with a metal detector. It was Don Sinclair, who (when prodded) described himself as a "professional treasure hunter."
Don has been discovering treasures all across the city for a long time, and knows a lot about Winnipeg’s history and spaces. He said he got hooked on the process when, as a child, he saw someone dig up a spoon in front of historic Barber House in Point Douglas.
"I was fascinated," he said.
Starting with his first metal detector (he now owns three) in the early 2000s, Sinclair has since found many old coins, a few licence plates and metal toys from yesteryear, such as sections of toy trains, airplanes and soldiers. He is astounded at the amount of jewelry he has found over the years.
On my street, Sinclair found a coin in an area where the concrete sidewalk had been pulled up.
As Christmas lights increasingly twinkle around Elmwood, I thought of another find Sinclair made nearby — a toy soldier that could date back to the First World Ward.
Could the long lost toy have once been under a Christmas tree of a nearby home years ago, awaiting the delight of a child on Christmas morning?
Sinclair thought children were likely playing with the toy along the sidewalk or boulevard and somehow left it behind.
He said he wonders about every find he makes, especially the old coins which could buy a lot back then. "I always think about that... how they felt when they lost it," he said.
Shirley Kowalchuk is a Winnipeg writer who loves her childhood home of East Kildonan where she still resides. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Correspondent — East Kildonan
Shirley Kowalchuk is a Winnipeg writer who loves her childhood home of East Kildonan, where she still resides. She can be reached at email@example.com