Private detector
New Yellowknifer hunts for buried treasure

Daniel MacIsaac
Northern News Services

NNSL (May 07/99) - If you don't immediately spot Leslie Sarkany on the beach this summer, you're sure to hear him.

The "ping, ping, ping" of his metal detector attracted attention last Sunday outside Mildred Hall school, where Sarkany was pursuing his favourite hobby -- hunting for buried artifacts, coins and the odd diamond ring.

Recently arrived in Yellowknife, the security consultant said he first took to metal-detecting some 20 years ago as a Halifax police officer looking for a way to relax.

"One hour in the woods, and I'm totally void of any stress," he said.

Sarkany said his detector cost $1,000 but that it's more than paid for itself. He said he's found over 300 rings over the years and is able to give his family and friends diamonds rings for special occasions -- the most expensive weighing in at $4,000.

But far from being a mercenary, Sarkany said he's in metal-detecting purely for the thrill of the hunt and the relaxation, and does his best to return found items. He said he once picked up a wedding band at a Halifax beach and tracked down the owners through the surname engraved in it.

"I had to go through all the different telephone directories, and it was a process of elimination," he said. "It was a s-k-i name, and there's not so many in Nova Scotia."

In fact, despite having dug up "pieces of eight" and Chinese and German coins, Sarkany hasn't cashed in -- and said he doesn't even know the value of his 1725 silver Spanish coin.

But obviously there is value in some of Sarkany's findings. He said he'd already unearthed several dinky cars at Mildred Hall and given them to kids in the playground.

"Back home we have a Children's Wish Foundation to collect Christmas presents for kids," he said. "What I used to do was every year give them 200 or 300 dinky cars that I'd dug up in the summer."

Sarkany said his strangest find was a dental bridge but that he's also turned up swords, cannon balls and a 22-calibre revolver.

He said he's looking forward to exploring Yellowknife's lakes this summer with the aid of his underwater metal-detector. Though Sarkany added that if there's one thing he's looking forward to even more, it's the imminent arrival of his fiance, Marie, who indulges him in his passion for metal-detecting.

"She loves it, especially since I gave her a diamond and a star sapphire before I left," he said. "She enjoys that part of it."