Geocaching offers new path to Magnetawan’s tourism treasures

Magnetawan has joined the world of geocaching.

Geocaching is a global outdoor activity where people use the GPS on their mobile device to find hidden objects.

The GPS provides the coordinates and using those coordinates people make their way to the general site.

Once there, just like in a treasure hunt, people poke around concentrating their search in a small area looking for the hidden object or cache.

In Magnetawan the activity is municipally driven.

Deputy Clerk Laura Brandt told The Nugget a summer student suggested the activity and the village bought into it.

Brandt says the cache can be big or small and usually it's disguised but with a little bit of work, the objects can be found.

Brandt helped develop the local project, not just to create another activity for residents but to also use it as a draw to bring other people to the community.

Brandt says the geocaching community is world wide and there are many geocachers in Ontario who travel to other towns and cities to search for the hidden objects.

“It's an easy day trip for people south of us and it's COVID proof,” Brandt said.

She adds people from outside the area have taken part in the activity.

Brandt knows this because the Magnetawan geocaches include a tiny log with room for the geocacher to add their name, date and where they are from once they find the cache.

Some geocachers will add extra information to the log.

“That was cool,” wrote one geocacher.

“We came up from Toronto for the day just to check out your geocaches.”

Brandt says if people are coming up for the geocache adventure it means they are also taking in some of the sites in the community which helps enhance Magnetawan's tourism attraction.

Without giving away the exact locations of the geocaches, Brandt says they are strategically located in tourist-related areas.

“We hid them at local points of interests which help highlight things that are cool about us,” Brandt said.

In fact this approach has also helped local residents increase their awareness of some of the village's attractions as Brandt learned from reading another log entry.

“Hey, I've never been on the island trail before,” wrote the local resident.

“I didn't even know this existed.”

Brandt says the village bought nine geocaches and hid them at various locations.

Thanks to the record keeping, Brandt has been able to determine that several of the geocache sites have been visited up to 40 times.

“And we have people that have found all nine geocaches,” Brandt said.

The activity is not time consuming.

Brandt says people can spend five to 45 minutes looking for the geocaches and they don't have to find all of them.

It's up to the geocacher.

Brandt is likely the only person who knows where all the geocaches are hidden.

She's not about to give away the locations or in what manner the geocaches are hidden.

But there are riddles to solve and hints that help the searcher get to a specific geocache site.

Because some people don't know what geocaching is, Brandt says there will be coincidences where a non geocacher stumbles onto one of the caches.

“To make sure they are not removed we have a note on site,” Brandt said.

“It reads ‘This is a geocache. Please don't take this and leave it where it is."

Brandt says geocachers who are heavily involved with the activity go as far as to replace the geocache that they find with another object and she adds that's alright.

The geocaches can be almost anything.

Brandt says they can take the form of a small figure, mood ring or even a small stone. “There aren't any prizes for finding the geocaches,” she says.

“It's more of a self-gratification activity that you can find them.”

Geocaching is also an activity that can take place over the winter, says Brandt as long as the site isn't buried by too much snow.

Brandt says the plan is to keep the local geocaches at their same locations.

Although she's mum on the general area of where they are hidden, to help people get started Brandt revealed that one of the geocaches is in the vicinity of the Heritage Museum mural.

This location for the geocache is deliberate.

It gets people to come to the site and while looking for the hidden object, searchers can also take in the nearby mural artwork which is part of an outdoor beautification project the village recently initiated.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Bay Nugget