August 15, 2018 4:25 pm
Updated: August 15, 2018 4:52 pm

Alex Storm, Cape Breton’s treasure hunter and historian, dies at age 80

Alex Storm, right, poses with his son Jason Storm in front of a display about him and his treasure hunting days in this undated handout photo.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Jason Storm
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A beloved treasure hunter and historian of Cape Breton island, remembered as a restless adventurer and treasure-trove of stories, has died.

Alex Storm was perhaps most famous for discovering the lost wreck of French treasure ship Le Chameau off the Fortress of Louisbourg in 1965, and his travels carried him in search of shipwrecks as far as Portugal, but he considered Cape Breton to be “paradise.”

He died on August 12 in Cape Breton.

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Storm was born in 1930s Indonesia to Dutch parents, and he came to Canada seeking a friendly place after surviving a Japanese prisoner of war camp as a child.

After first arriving in Ontario, Storm missed being close to the water, so he moved to Nova Scotia, where found the many loves of his life – his future wife Emily, hidden treasures and the sea.

Storm developed his interest in shipwrecks while living in Canada, but his son Jason said his father’s interest in ocean exploration began at a young age.

“I think it was just in him,” said Jason, one of Storm’s five children. “He seemed to have this urge to explore and discover … he never wanted to be resting, never wanted to be letting the dust settle.”

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Storm and his team made national headlines with the discovery of Le Chameau, which had been lost for more than two centuries.

Jason Storm said his father made it his personal mission to find the lost ship.

Storm and his colleagues had to keep the expedition a secret so others wouldn’t catch wind of their plan and beat them to the wreck.

When the team first started coming to the surface with buckets of gold, they had to hide their bounty from the man working on the wharf who asked about their progress each day.

Discovering gold was an exciting surprise when they finally came across the Le Chameau – they only expected silver and copper. The money the team made from auctioning off the gold artifacts was enough to fund future expeditions.

Storm uncovered Atlantic Canada’s history through more than just wreck hunting – he worked to reconstruct the Fortress of Louisbourg, collected artifacts from rural Newfoundland and Nova Scotia’s inshore fisheries, and even opened a museum of artifacts in his Louisbourg home.

Jason Storm said looking through his father’s books over the last month has been “almost like an archaeological dig,” taking him through his varied interests over the course of his life.

Storm is also remembered as a “renaissance man,” a talented storyteller and painter.

He published a number of books on his treasure hunting stories, and those who knew him say Storm surprised them with stories about his adventures, right up until the weeks before his death.

And even though his travels took him around the world, Jason Storm said his father was still interested in researching the mysteries of the world.

“He still believed there’s treasure hidden somewhere out there.”

 

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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