CX Steve MacNeil - Why I Started Metal Detecting


As a Correctional Officer, dealing with major incidents and individuals with extensive needs and risks is often rewarding, but the mental and physical toll of our work quickly becomes apparent to just about every new officer.

In response to that, I was looking for a hobby that would combine my love for the outdoors and keeping active. Metal detecting has done just that and more. This hobby has been a huge stress reliever in my life. It allows me to step back and “unplug” from the difficult situations and events we deal with on a daily basis. As an added bonus, it has had some useful overlap with my career – but more about that later.

As a young child, I saved my money to purchase a metal detector after watching an elderly man finding coins in the sand at the local beach. While my early finds of miscellaneous coins were hardly the buried riches of boyhood dreams, I did recover my grandmother’s wedding ring once after she lost it while hanging out the laundry.

I gradually forgot about metal detecting over several years, but shortly after starting my career at CSC I came across an article in the local newspaper about someone who was metal detecting. I was drawn back to my old hobby, and quickly realized its rewarding nature and relaxed pace would be a great way to ease my mind after working in a stressful environment.

Shortly thereafter, I researched online and found a local group of individuals who would get together once a year for a “Big Dig.” After getting to know some of these fellow detector enthusiasts, I discovered many of them did this for the same reasons I did as some were fire fighters and police officers.

The dig would last two days and each participant would display items they’d found over the years. Many of these items were quite impressive, and included cannonballs, Spanish coins, and revolutionary war military buttons. I was instantly excited to start detecting again, and begin my own collection of unique and intriguing artifacts.

This hobby is far more than uncovering tarnished coins on the beach or fair grounds.  It is highly educational, and has led me to do a great deal of research into local, national, and even world history in search of new or interesting detecting sites. Not bad for a guy who didn’t pay attention in history class.

With all the bad news we see and hear through mass media, metal detecting provides me with an escape because every find has me asking questions such as, “Who lost this item?” or “What was Canada like back then?”

In addition to it being a hobby, I am also in the process of taking the initiative to train other Correctional Officers on the use of ground search metal detectors for the purpose of finding and preventing weapons or other contraband from entering our institutions. Using such equipment, I have searched the grounds and recovered a variety of shanks, keys, and needles buried in the old horse shoe pit and baseball field.

Some of my most prized items include but are not limited to the following:

It’s difficult to overstate the positive impacts this hobby has had on my life. Not only has it become an excellent way to relax and learn about our past, it is also proven to be an effective tool with the potential to improve safety and security for CSC employees and inmates alike.

**It should be noted that all finds were found on private land with the permission of the landowner. 

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