Raylene Watts and Alex Tuele wandered down to Port Alberni’s waterfront last Wednesday, but unlike the other people standing by the Maritime Discovery Centre lighthouse, they weren’t there to see the Navy ships in port.
Watts and Tuele, both from Fanny Bay, were hunting for treasure—and they thought Port Alberni was where they would find their pot of gold.
Their adventure began two days earlier when Watts saw a video about a B.C. treasure hunt posted on TikTok from an account called Twenty Four Seven Exotics. “I was scrolling through. He (owner Ryan Billard) uploaded the riddle,” Watts said.
“British Columbia, there are thousands of dollars hidden throughout the hills, valleys and coast. Your chance at the first thousand dollars starts (March 6),” one video boasted.
Billard is listed as the chief executive officer (CEO) of Twenty Four Seven Exotics Inc. out of Edmonton. The company offers exotic car entertainment “and random acts of kindness.” The hunt Watts and Tuele saw was just one of a string of scavenger hunts Billard has set up around Alberta and B.C.
“Giveaways are just some of the ways we support our communities and we bring our communities together by live events like the famous scavenger hunt,” notes the company’s YouTube page. The prize for the first person to find the most recent treasure box was $1,000 and the scavenger hunt came with “5 Riddles to the Prize,” the video noted.
“Alex loves this kind of stuff,” said Watts. She took the riddle to Tuele and the two of them tried to decipher it. They signed up for all of Twenty Four Seven Exotics’ social media accounts and watched previous videos to learn Billard’s methods and search for past clues. “I was reading them because he said you would get hints from them,” Tuele said.
Both mothers had time last Wednesday, March 8 to take a road trip, and they thought the riddle was leading searchers to Port Alberni.
“It was something fun to do while the kids are at school,” Watts said. She had written the riddles in a notebook and documented every step they took in case they found the treasure. They were looking for a small box with a coin in it; once discovered there were specific steps the finder would have to take in order to win.
More than 200 comments were made on the original video. “Spent $1,000 on gas to look,” someone named Dave said.
“He said valleys. I’m thinking somewhere in Comox,” Islandbudi posted. Numerous other posters guessed that the location was near Squamish or Whistler.
“Before I play, did you bother with anywhere past the lower mainland?” a cynical DM asked.
After searching around the Alberni waterfront for a little while longer, Watts and Tuele decided it was time to head back home. They left the lighthouse empty-handed.
Little more than 24 hours after the duo visited Port Alberni the treasure was found—in Tete Jaune Cache, a rural area on the Fraser River in the Robson Valley. Located at the intersection of Highway 5 and Highway 16, the small rural community is also home to an abandoned historic town.
“Someone from Calgary drove to B.C. and found it,” Watts said in a text.
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