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

A mantle of smoke overhangs the city of Port Alberni, indicating a thermal inversion of the sort that commonly traps harmful smoke particulate in winter. (MIKE YOUDS PHOTO)
Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District one step closer to burning bylaws

ACRD staff make amendments after public engagement

Aidan See played for the North Island Silvertips during the 2019-2020 season. (PHOTO COURTESY RON HAYES)
VIJHL: Port Alberni Bombers add hometown talent to roster

Junior B hockey club signs Aidan See, Blake Power and Grayson Erickson

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read