A Very Canny Canadian Cache

In a very belated tribute for Canada Day, It’s Not About The Numbers profiles a new cache making a big impact in British Columbia.

You’ll never see a DNF on GC2Y8Q8 Made in Canada, Eh!

For starters, this cache is nearly a metre high by 1.2-metres long by almost half a metre wide, and can be seen on Google Maps.

It’s the brainchild of Mike and Aranea Van Burik, who convinced their high school’s metalwork students to build them the biggest ammo can in Canada.

According to their research, it’s actually the largest “authentic cache made of metal” in both their homeland and the neighbouring United States.

“I have found ammo cans larger than this one in Canada and in America but they are made out of wood; that’s not really authentic, if I may be so bold,” Aranea says.

A month ago, the C$1000 (NZ$1245) replica was wheeled into position outside the couple’s Dutch import business in Qualicum, British Columbia. And it’s no surprise that none of the 42 finders have been able to miss the D1/T1 level cache.

“This can is located in plain sight; you can spot it from the highway driving by our place doing 80km an hour!” she says.

Not bad for a pair (GC handle: Coombs Wooden Shoe) who began caching in 2008 after their daughter Aquila, now 15, took up the hobby.

Aranea says: “I thought it would be a good ‘quality time’ spent with the child and with the family. At first we were just humouring her – and then, hold on to your horses, we got the caching bug.

“Mike and I are now totally addicted and Aquila is shaking her head with a smile as she has moved on to other things.”

By the time they’d reached nearly 1500 finds, Aranea knew she preferred “caches that are unusual or have some serious thought put into them”. Upon discovering a mini ammo can, she couldn’t resist the irony of contrasting this tiny object with a gigantic version.

First came a visit to the local military surplus store to buy a ‘real’ ammo can that she could present her husband as she asked him to build an extra-large replica.

“I told Mike I don’t need diamonds and chocolate, just an ammo can (filled with chocolate … of course! :)) He thought it would be cool to keep it as original as possible and suggested that it be made out of metal.

“Now, I love playing with fire and saws and the such but am really bad at it and have been repeatedly warned, by all the men in my life, to stay away from all tools. Obviously, this wasn’t going to be my field of expertise.”

Instead, Aranea contacted the metalwork teacher at her daughter’s high school, Kwalikum Secondary, with her plan. “I thought for sure he would think that I had lost it but, to my great surprise, he agreed.

“Mike took the ‘real’ ammo can to the boys and I asked them to make it as big as they could – the bigger, the better. They came back with some measurements and I said ‘BIGGER!’ … but to my disappointment that wasn’t possible.

“Much heavier and it wouldn’t fit though the door etc … the boys patiently and painstakingly explained why it should not be any bigger. And I reluctantly gave in.”

Three weeks later, she had the finished product. Made entirely out of metal, it stands 3-feet high by 4-feet long by 18-inches wide and features heavy-duty castors for ease of movement.

Aranea calls its a “true replica” of geocaching’s favourite container.

“I wanted a wow factor and the wow factor is there. The latch and top handle is exactly the way it should be, to the point of actually working. We did have to separate the lid from the latch workings because it was getting too heavy and I was worried that some people or children might not be able to open it.”

To combat the can’s 3in-deep interior, she asked the students to weld a shelf that would hold “all the swag” and a logbook within easy reach.

“We also had a latch welded on to the side of the can with a combination lock to keep out muggles. The combo to the lock is found in the GC code painted on the can.”

That paint job was the only element not handled by the high school students; instead a painter in the same complex as the couple’s Coombs Wooden Shoe store provided the trademark army-green sheen.

Aranea’s finishing touches included a gigantic logbook – measuring roughly 33cm high by 28cm across and 8cm deep (13 inches x 11 inches x 3 inches) – and similarily large pen, followed by a simple cache name which offered “a little Canadian humour”.

Since then, she’s been amazed by the response.

“I love that the older men appreciate what the younger ones are making; I think it bridges the gap between the generations a little.

“And I love seeing the eyes of little kids when they ‘find’ the cache before their parents, and the excitement in their faces at all the cool swag.”

Best of all, the Van Buriks’ creation offers them a great way to meet other cachers. “If we can’t cache that day, we might as well chat about caching.”

* Have you logged GC2Y8Q8 Made in Canada, Eh! or are planning a visit there to do so, let us know below.



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  1. Clan Riffster on Facebook

    Neat! You’d think a metal shop would be able to get the latch right, but it’s still pretty kewl.

  2. Rory Brown

    The latch was constructed properly but it made the lid too heavy. They modified it to reduce the weight.
    Yes we have visited the cache.

  3. Clan Riffster on Facebook

    Too heavy for what? Certainly not too heavy to lift, as a 4″x10″ piece of folded sheet metal weighs less than a pound. Maybe they meant it put the weight just over the tolerances for the lift arms? If that’s the case, then the lid would not stay open, which is an understandable concern. Personally, I would’ve added a couple more lift arms, if that would allow me to keep the can true to the original design.

    Either way, it’s an awesome piece of work, which I’d love to see some day.

  4. Aranea

    Good morning Clan Riffster.
    I don’t understand metal or what it weighs, but if you look at the whole mechanism, it is made out of really heavy duty stuff, specially the latch, it is really heavy!
    They boys did not skimp on the quality and went to town on this ammo can.
    Having said that, the lid was unbelievably heavy.
    Me, being a girl, -but not a wimpy girl-, was having a hard time opening it and closing it.
    We really wanted to keep in mind that elderly people cache and children cache and ladies cache.
    We wanted it keep it as safe and easy for all people, and wanted no blood splatters.
    There are heavy duty lift arms in place.
    I would like to personally invite you to come and have a look at the construction on this ammo can!
    Vancouver Island welcomes you!
    Thank you for your comments and input!
    Aranea 🙂

  5. Lori Smith

    Sounds like semantics to me… the point is the KIDS in a school metal shop did a great job! emulating the original. I will be making a trip there this summer to see it!
    and not to mention shopping at goats on the roof! that in itself is something worth making the trip for!
    check it out too if you go! Thanks for posting the link to the Ammo Can!


  6. Clan Riffster on Facebook

    Working latch or not, it still rates as one of the kewlest caches I’ve ever seen, even though I haven’t yet had the pleasure of seeing more than just pictures. If I do have the priveledge of visiting your fine island someday, this one will be at the top of my To Do list. Looks like there are some amazing paddling opportunities to the north. Can I bring my kayak? 😉

  7. Kylie Walker on Facebook

    Lori, thanks for the heads-up about Goats On The Roof. Have bookmarked it in my ‘If I Ever Win Lotto’ file …

  8. Aranea

    You girls ever come to the Island and go shopping at the goats on the roof…I AM IN!
    It is a fun place to browse around!

    CLAN: YES, bring your kayak!…this Island is surrounded with water.
    We have the most incredible waters for kayaking….something that I do myself!
    AND YES, there are caches here, that were placed and found in kayaks.
    Come on down – or up? 🙂

  9. Michael D. Belanger on Facebook

    I can’t find this one (yet – too far away for me), but I did send the cache info to my son in WA.

  10. Michael D. Belanger on Facebook

    And I did download it to my GSAK, in case I ever DO get up that way!

  11. Dave

    Impressive ! Great craftsmanship. This is a memorable cache. Loads of space for tradeables.

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