Once at the site, the two coincidentally found a treasure of historic silverware from the Hotel Vancouver, nearly dating back over 80 years, buried near a rotting tree stump.
Video posted on social media captures when Hicks finds the mother lode and begins pulling handful after handful of the utensils out of the dirt.
“We’ve just hit a hot pocket,” narrates Laub. “This never happens. It’s a whole stash of Hotel Vancouver silverware!”
The pair extracted 121 fully intact pieces and a few broken ones — soup spoons, teaspoons, pickle forks, regular forks, knives and ladles — all with an old Hotel Vancouver insignia clearly stamped in the silver plating.
Bottle diggers Christian Laub, left, and Julian Hicks, right, found 121 pieces of vintage Hotel Vancouver silverware buried in a Vancouver forest. (Ben Nelms/CBC)
“The experience of reaching your hand in a hole and pulling out a bunch of close to 100-year-old forks and knives, it’s once in a lifetime,” said Hicks.
“I thought we were gonna have to fight over who got the first piece of cutlery, and then I kept finding more and more and more.”
Laub estimated the silverware dated back to the 1920s.
But a little research revealed a provenance of 1939 or later, when construction of the Hotel Vancouver that exists today was completed.
“The logo, which says Hotel Vancouver, is a mimic of the Canadian National logo of the time,” said Laub. “Canadian Pacific … joined forces with Canadian National and the two [companies] completed the hotel in time for the King and Queen’s visit to Canada in 1939.”
The Hotel Vancouver has confirmed the approximate age of the silverware.
How it ended up there is a mystery of history.
“It wasn’t just recklessly discarded, it was carefully put there,” said Laub. “But the question is why?
“We’ve come to two conclusions: it was either put there purposely for somebody to find in the future, as we did, or somebody stole it and stashed it for a rainy day and then something happened to that person, or they forgot about it.”
After an initial cleaning, a few of the pieces looked to be in good condition. Many, however, have some damage, although not nearly what would be expected for being buried in a rainforest for untold decades.
Collectors of Vancouver history have already started inquiring about buying the find.