Sooke’s Paul Larouche, aka PioneerPauly on YouTube, uses a metal detector in hopes to find gold flakes along his claim of the Sooke River. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Sooke’s Paul Larouche, aka PioneerPauly on YouTube, uses a metal detector in hopes to find gold flakes along his claim of the Sooke River. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

VIDEO: Island man finds niche audience by gold-panning on YouTube

Paul Larouche, 29, with over 215,000 subscribers, opens up about his journey

Paul Larouche has been hunting for treasures since he was young, but now the Sooke man has hit the mother lode.

With more than 215,000 subscribers on YouTube, the 29-year-old spends his time creating content around finding gold, gems and odd treasures from his travels under the name PioneerPauly.

You won’t find many videos where he isn’t wearing his signature red and white toque with Canada written across the front.

He’s found an old pickaxe, Spanish coins, jewelry and obsidian arrowheads during his travels across the province and into several American states. He’s even visited Australia for gold.

But all the treasures in the world couldn’t convince him to get out of bed four years ago.

At the age of 25, he was living a different life. He was working as a security worker after leaving the film and TV production industry. As someone who struggles with anxiety and depression, he felt like he was hitting a wall.

READ MORE: Gold panning means getting back to the land

“I wasn’t doing much with my life,” Larouche said. “I was at a point where I just felt so lost and completely stuck. I was staying inside and didn’t want to leave the house.”

That is until his uncle, who lives in Langford, tried to get him outside and unearthed a passion for gold panning.

The 29-year-old remembers that day he first went out with his uncle back in 2017.

“It felt so strange just digging in the mud I thought I was wasting my time,” Larouche said. “The first time I washed out my pan, I saw something so bright and shiny. It was surreal when I found my first speck of gold. I was almost speechless. I didn’t know that this stuff still existed out here.”

Since then, he’s dedicated his time to be an expert at the hobby-turned-career.

He scoops a mound of dirt into a gold pan at the water’s edge along Sooke River, where he bought a gold claim. He pointed out that because gold is heavy, the metal will drop to the pan’s bottom. He always looks for low-pressure spots along the river whenever he goes out.

He brought a metal detector to use on land and a diving suit to gold snipe, where he uses a mask and snorkel to find pieces of gold in the water.

ALSO READ: The golden rule of Goldstream: there is no gold

Not too far down the same river is where he found one of the biggest pieces he owns, clocking in at 7.5 grams. In one instance, he found 13 grams tucked into a crevice of bedrock underwater. He assumes a gold miner visited decades ago but couldn’t continue looking into that spot, as he also found a broken pickaxe nearby.

Looking to the future, Larouche dreams of one day pitching a documentary-style show to a major broadcasting company or a streaming service, like Netflix.

He’s hosted several celebrities on his channel, including DALLMYD, an adventure YouTuber with more than 11 million subscribers and Michael Einziger, co-founder and lead guitarist for the American rock band INCUBUS.

He’s planning to travel to Alaska when the borders reopen, and he’s got his eyes set on Africa as well.

“I’m hoping to convince him to go up north into Nunavut and the Arctic Circle soon,” said Jeremy Woolsey, his second cousin who lives in Ladysmith and grew up gold panning.

“It’s all about timing, though, because we don’t want all the ice to freeze over. We can pan in one of the glacier creeks, and it would be a first for both of us. Since they’ve got long days and nights up there, I’d rather go up when we can get the most sunlight.”

Until then, Larouche doesn’t mind filling his days with dreams of buried treasure, just waiting to be unearthed.

RELATED: Shifting the lens on Sooke’s gold rush


 

Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

aaron.guillen@goldstreamgazette.com

SookeYouTube

 

Sooke’s Paul Larouche gold snipes along Sooke River, a process in which he uses a mask and snorkel to find pieces of gold. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Sooke’s Paul Larouche gold snipes along Sooke River, a process in which he uses a mask and snorkel to find pieces of gold. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Paul Larouche shows off a handful of gold pieces he’s found while gold panning, gold sniping and using a metal detector in Sooke. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Paul Larouche shows off a handful of gold pieces he’s found while gold panning, gold sniping and using a metal detector in Sooke. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)

Just Posted

Ashcroft hospital emergency closed sign, 2016. Photo credit: Barbara Roden
Ashcroft Hospital emergency department closed this weekend

Closure due to unexpected limited physician availabiliy, says Interior Health

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

Heidi Roy of the Cariboo Jade Shop in Cache Creek with the 3,000 jade boulder, which is now on secure display inside the shop. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Massive jade boulder returns to Cache Creek store six months after daring heist

The 3,000-pound boulder was stolen on Dec. 19, 2020 and found abandoned in the bush a week later

Dr. Albert de Villiers, chief medical health officer for the Interior Health Authority. (Contributed)
Child sex crimes charges against Interior’s top doc won’t impact pandemic response: Dix

Dr. Albert de Villiers is charged with sexual assault and sexual interference

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read