Former Agassiz DJ turned prospector finds treasure, renewed life in Lillooet

Renegade Prospectors co-founders Rick Curiston and Tina Francis pose near Cayoosh Creek. Former Agassiz resident Curiston recently celebrated one year sober from alcohol and eight years drug-free, loving his new lease on life, family and their love for treasure hunting. (Contributed Photo/Tina Francis)Renegade Prospectors co-founders Rick Curiston and Tina Francis pose near Cayoosh Creek. Former Agassiz resident Curiston recently celebrated one year sober from alcohol and eight years drug-free, loving his new lease on life, family and their love for treasure hunting. (Contributed Photo/Tina Francis)
Tina Francis makes pendants out of the stones the family finds while prospecting on Cayoosh Creek. (Contributed Photo/Tina Francis)Tina Francis makes pendants out of the stones the family finds while prospecting on Cayoosh Creek. (Contributed Photo/Tina Francis)
Rick Curiston and Tina Francis pose near the water. The couple followed through on a sobriety pact and have taken up prospecting near Lillooet. (Contributed Photo/Tina Francis)Rick Curiston and Tina Francis pose near the water. The couple followed through on a sobriety pact and have taken up prospecting near Lillooet. (Contributed Photo/Tina Francis)
Rick Curiston and 4-year-old daughter Paisley sift through the dirt in search of gold in Cayoosh Creek. Curiston and his fiancee Tina Francis document their mining adventures on YouTube. (Contributed Photo/Tina Francis)Rick Curiston and 4-year-old daughter Paisley sift through the dirt in search of gold in Cayoosh Creek. Curiston and his fiancee Tina Francis document their mining adventures on YouTube. (Contributed Photo/Tina Francis)
Rick Curiston’s daughter Paisley beams as she shows off her latest find. The youngest member of Renegade Prospectors currently holds the family record for the biggest amethyst found. (Contributed Photo/Tina Francis)Rick Curiston’s daughter Paisley beams as she shows off her latest find. The youngest member of Renegade Prospectors currently holds the family record for the biggest amethyst found. (Contributed Photo/Tina Francis)

A man raised in Agassiz has found his calling among the rocks and clear blue waters of Cayoosh Creek.

Along his journey of sobriety after a long battle with drug and alcohol addiction, Renegade Prospectors co-founder Rick Curiston – now loving life in Lillooet – hopes to turn his prospecting passion into a new career.

Curiston’s skills in video editing and creating content he developed as a DJ spurred him on to create a YouTube channel, documenting his new-found love of small-scale mining and prospecting.

“Everyone in Agassiz would most remember me as the crazy DJ that partied all night, and I was in the festival scene for many years before COVID,” he said.

The name Renegade Prospectors is a reference to his former annual festival “Weekend Renegade.”

“I smoked crack for 11 years,” Curiston said. “I’ve been clean for eight. I found prospecting 11 months ago, and I’ve been sober for a year.”

“I’ll always be an addict, but now it’s for gold,” he added.

Curiston and his fiancee Tina Francis made a pact to get sober together and stuck to it. The Renegade Prospectors logo contains a nod to the couple’s past; the web in the dream catcher resembles the dopamine molecule. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter linked to the brain’s pleasure centre and plays a key role in the forming of habits, both good (socializing, eating properly) and bad (gambling, addiction).

READ ALSO: Local miner eyes Bear Mountain for gold

He vividly remembers the first time he found his first piece of gold while panning along Cayoosh Creek.

“Prospecting takes us to a whole new level,” Curiston said. “The high I got from seeing that [first piece of gold] – shake [the pan] back, and bang! There it was. I jumped right up and yelped.”

Curiston hopes to incorporate parts of his First Nations ancestry in his YouTube channel – also named Renegade Prospectors – speaking on local legends in addition to showcasing his prospecting finds. He hopes to turn his channel and his hobby prospecting into a career.

Prospecting, hobby mining and panning for gold is the trendy new hobby in the Cayoosh Creek area, according to Curiston.

“It’s booming right now because of COVID; we’ve bumped into a lot of people, all newbies,” he said. “There’s nothing else to do!”

After seeing Curiston and Francis’s success, the couple’s received private messages across social media looking for their expertise in the hobby.

Agate seems to be their most common find.

“It’s huge on agate,” Curiston said of the Cayoosh Creek area. Agate is a volcanic rock that melds chalcedony and quartz.

Prior to venturing out, Curiston looks for irregularities and coloration in the land using Google Earth to help him determine where to look next.

“We haven’t found ‘nothing’ yet. Every time, it works,” Curiston said.

Then, off he goes treasure hunting with Francis, 4-year-old daughter Paisley and loyal canine friend Biscuit.

“[Paisley] even has her own hat, vest, gear and tools for digging agates and amethyst,” Curiston said. “She’s still the holder of the best purple piece of amethyst to date! Due to her being so close to the ground, she finds the really nice stuff.”

READ ALSO: B.C. museum receives donation of 52-million-year-old fossils

Among their biggest hauls is a 35-pound piece of agate and amethyst chunks the size of Curiston’s fist. He described the first amethyst find as a “pocket glowing with purple inside.”

“That was it, all high fives,” he recalled. “We started chiseling; it’s took two and a half hours to get it out of super hard, hard rock. It was super, super dense rock, but it was very worth it.”

Francis is enrolled in online schooling for business skills and has been working on building blogs. She crafts pendants – doing everything from polishing to cutting gems to assembling the pendants themselves – from the agate they find while prospecting and has sold a few already to friends and family.

When they’re not treasure hunting, the family likes to fish for trout and hike, exploring familiar trails, relics and old mining sites possibly hearkening back to the days of the Cayoosh Creek Gold Rush in the late 1800s.

Curiston and Francis have been posting videos since late August on YouTube, garnering just under 40 subscribers so far. Their Facebook page is more active with more than 100 followers as of publication; the page features photos of their finds, video briefs out in the field and articles about mining and prospecting. They have also set up a Patreon page for those who want to support their work and content.

“Thanks to those who have helped me, guided me into the world of prospecting and who have supported me along the way,” Curiston wrote on Facebook at the one year sober mark. “I appreciate every one of you. Life has changed a lot in the past few years and I’m so happy I can live every day now, clean and sober.”


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
news@ahobserver.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

AgassizFirst Nationsmining

Just Posted

Pat McKenna, Habitat VIN's executive director and Alli Epp, Comox Valley Community engagement manager in front of Design Therapy, one of almost 200 businesses contributing to Bid to Build. Karen McKinnon Photo.
‘#BidToBuild’ auction launching to support affordable housing

Auction builds on last year’s successful effort, with new twists

Hope Rocks at the Campbell River Art Gallery highlighting local linguistic diversity.
Paint a rock to celebrate diversity

Hope Rocks highlighting linguistic diversity in Campbell River

Reflective number or design on hoodie. Police are seeking help in identifying three youth involved in an incident on Soderholm Road early June 12. Photo courtesy Campbell River RCMP
Do you know where your kids were at 1:24 a.m.?

Campbell River RCMP seeking help identifying three youths

John Hart Dam near Campbell River, B.C. BC Hydro photo
Campbell River watershed forecasts improve with rainfall

BC Hydro projects slightly higher resevoir levels and river flows after rainy May and June

North Island MLA Michele Babchuk. Photo contributed
COMMENTARY: MLA Michele Babchuk talks the future of forestry

‘These forests are important to every single one of us, myself included’

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Gabriola Island artist Sheila Norgate is promoting the Digital Innovation Group’s art impact survey. (File photo)
Vancouver Island artists get behind regional arts impact study

Artists urged to use their stature to help put arts and culture super-region on the map

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Creative handmade signs abound at the June 13 Tofino rally for old growth trees. (Nora O’Malley photo)
VIDEO: Tofino stands in solidarity for Fairy Creek Blockades

Over 150 supporters attend rally hosted by Friends of Clayoquot Sound

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials watching U.K.’s Delta variant struggles, ‘may need to slow’ plan going forward

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

Most Read