A Canadian with a metal detector has unearthed a 16th century coin that may rewrite the country's history.
An amateur treasure hunter with a hand-held metal detector has turned Canadian history on its head after finding a 16th century shilling buried in clay on the shores of Vancouver Island.
The 435-year-old coin discovered in western-most Canada has rekindled a theory that a British explorer made a secret voyage here two centuries before it was discovered by Spanish sailors.
Official historical records show the Spanish were the first Europeans to set foot in what is now Canada's British Columbia province in 1774, followed four years later by British Royal Navy Captain James Cook.
Retired security systems installer Bruce Campbell found the coin in mid-December, along with a rare 1891 Canadian nickel, a 1960s dime and penny from 1900.
"I was getting fat and tired of watching TV," he said about what got him into his hobby, surrounded in his Victoria, British Columbia home by a trove of adventure novels and a few dug up treasures.
He never imagined, he said, stirring up controversy with his latest find.
According to conspiracy theorists and some historians, the silver coin (produced between 1551 and 1553) is evidence that English explorer Sir Francis Drake travelled as far north as Canada's Pacific Coast during an expedition to California in 1579, in search of the famed Northwest Passage.
But he covered it up at the behest of Queen Elizabeth I, who supposedly wished to avoid confrontation over the new territory with Spain.