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The Story of the Treasure Hunt

We have a winner!

Listen to our companion radio drama The Strange
Wax Cylinders of Thaddeus Barnes
 now on the rabble podcast network

A Bit of Background

The world of Thaddeus Barnes is a steampunk-inspired alternative history of Edwardian Canada. In this world Jules Verne-like inventions are common-place. Electricity and steam are harvested to power fantastical devices and the fashion of the age is influenced by the the brass, leather, cogs and gears of the future-looking inventions of the fictional time. If you're not familiar with the idea of steampunk we encourage to to visit the Steampunk Canada Facebook group or enjoy the rich steampunk imagery at Steampunk Tendencies.

Thaddeus Barnes is an eccentric Canadian inventor from the golden days of the imagined Electric Age. His steampunk-style creations brought him fame, fortune, rivals and enemies. To keep his secrets safe, just before his death he buried six copper cylinders across Canada. You can learn more about one of those burials here.

Each contained one piece of a key that would unlock the hidden safe containing his secrets and his fortune. He placed clues, ciphers and riddles leading to the cylinders in a personal journal. He had hoped the most worthy of his three children would solve the vexing clues, discover the cylinders and unlock his safe. He also hoped that his brilliant daughter Phillipa would be the one to solve the mysteries of his journal. Shortly before his death he wrote her a missive historians call the "Phillipa" letter

But, all his children perished on the Titanic's maiden voyage. The cylinders remained buried and the journal was lost, until now. It was recently discovered in a dark corner of the Canadian Archives and is in possession of harrowsmithnow.com. Now, in time for Harrowsmith's 40th anniversary, it is time that its contents came to light.

You have a chance to solve the clues Barnes' children, even his brilliant daughter, Phillipa never had the chance to tackle. 

We've created a Facebook group where steampunk and history lovers (whom we call Barnes Stormers) have gathered to learn about the world of Thaddeus Barnes, solve teaser puzzles, decode the last letter Barnes sent to Phillipa, and much more. We've also launched a podcast series to accompany the contest. Learn more about The Strange Wax Cylinders of Thaddeus Barnes generously hosted by our media sponsor rabble.ca.

How to Play

A new page of Barnes' journal will be revealed here and in our Facebook group every Monday morning at 8 a.m. EST. You'll have a week to untangle the puzzles and enigmas Barnes left behind. The solution to his vexatious riddles will reveal the latitude and longitude of a copper cylinder. In each cylinder is a piece of a key that will unlock Barnes safe of secrets. The contest runs for six weeks starting August 22. After the end of the contest on September 26 you'll have two weeks to come up with the final location of Barnes safe. Your entries can be submitted using this form. We encourage you to read the full rules and regulations for this contest. Oh, and the prize? The bragging rights for having solved this mystery and $500 CDN.

We hope you enjoy exploring the world of Thaddeus Barnes and participating in a Canada-wide treasure hunt we call The Strange Copper Cylinders of Thaddeus Barnes.  

The Joy of a Shared Solution

Each week of the contest we'll reveal a two-page spread of Barnes' journal. Those pages will contain a variety of clues which will reveal the location of six copper cylinders hidden across Canada. The clues are tough and will require logic, a knowledge of literature, cryptography, geography and history. But that's deliberate. We want you to work with others to solve the puzzles. Those others can be members of your family, co-workers, friends or even the fellow "Barnes Stormers" you'll find on our Facebook group. Enjoy the camaraderie, gentle rivalry and the thrill of shared solution. If a clue baffles you come at it from a different angle. One by one you'll solve them and get closer to finding the next cylinder. You will not be able to find the location of the Barnes safe until all the key pieces are collected. One tip, keep track of your notes and answers. It will pay off at the end of the contest. Best of luck.