ERIE, Pa. — James McQuiston has a theory about what treasures might be buried underground on a small island in Nova Scotia, Canada, and who might have put it there centuries ago.
The North East researcher, historian and author said his theory was strengthened during a return trip to Oak Island in June, when he collected more evidence and once again met with the latest team working to unearth the island’s mysteries.
There’s a good chance McQuiston’s theory — that riches rumored to be hidden on Oak Island might have been placed there by some illustrious Scots who had traveled to Nova Scotia to establish a settlement in the 1600s — will play out during the seventh season of the History Channel series, “The Curse of Oak Island,” which was to premiere on Tuesday night.
McQuiston has discussed his theory at length with brothers Rick and Marty Lagina and the other members of the search team whose exploits are the basis of the popular television series. His previous visits to the island in 2017 and 2018 and presentations to the search team were filmed, and McQuiston was featured during one episode aired in the second half of season six.
McQuiston said he was filmed again during his June visit, but he does not know if any of the 10 hours of footage he estimates was shot will be aired in an upcoming episode.
But he has already made a bit of a splash heading into the new season.
McQuiston’s theory was the sixth presented during a preseason show, “The Curse of Oak Island: The Top 25 Theories,” that aired Oct. 15. The episode outlined various theories about who might have buried treasure at Oak Island, such as pirates or members of the Knights Templar, and why.
“I was thrilled I made number six. Of course, in my mind, it should have been number one,” he said.
McQuiston, like members of the current search team, first became interested in the Oak Island mystery when he read a Reader’s Digest article from 1965 that addressed the island’s fabled money pit and the first dig there by three teenage boys in the 1790s. Numerous digs at and around the money pit by other groups would follow.
McQuiston became acquainted with the current search team when, after watching “The Curse of Oak Island,” he reached out to them to share information possibly related to the island from his research into his family holding the title of Baronetcy of Nova Scotia since 1625.
McQuiston would go on to write three books on Oak Island and his theory. The third, “Oak Island Knights,” was published after the sixth season of the television series ended.
“It really spells out the theory clearly,” he said.
McQuiston is now working on a fourth book, “Oak Island End Game,” that he said goes over all of the supporting verification to his theory.
“In a sense it’s all circumstantial, but it’s based on actual documents that still exist,” he said of his theory. “That’s what’s different with mine. If someone hand-writes something, who knows when it was actually written? Mine is based on actual documents that exist.”
McQuiston’s latest book is mostly written, except for one chapter. He said he is reserving it for what happens on “The Curse of Oak Island” this season.
“I know of things they are doing up there that I can’t really talk about,” he said. “I know they made a couple of good finds and made some real serious exploration.”
The explorations are beyond what was previously attempted, McQuiston said, and he expects they will bring “some very interesting results.”
McQuiston’s explorations in Nova Scotia this spring that he said helped to support his theory included a meeting with a lifelong treasure hunter who provided key verification and who explained “a couple of things to me that I didn’t understand 100 percent.” He said he was also able to study at the Nova Scotia Archives and found some supporting evidence there.
McQuiston said he additionally uncovered a link, “a very serious connection,” to an institution not far from Oak Island that goes back to the beginning of the treasure hunt, and he found a book during a visit to a little town that contained an article he said helped explain “the end of my story.”
Since McQuiston’s research into the Oak Island mystery and his involvement in the show became known, he said he has sold “a fair number of books, which is the bottom-line measurement, I guess,” and has given a number of talks.
The people who attended those sessions have been pretty enthusiastic about it, he said.
“They’re usually trying to give me more information or trying to eke more information out of me,” he said.
But while McQuiston may know a little more about what’s going on at Oak Island than the average fan of the television series, he’s just as curious about what the next discovery might be and whether the search team will eventually reach that “a-ha moment.”
“When I was talking to Rick (Lagina) this year, he said they have ‘data points from two different sources, and if it’s what we think they are, you’re going to be back up here.’ It’s neat to hear, but nothing like putting me in suspense,” he said.
Also suspenseful for McQuiston is whether he will see himself in an upcoming episode.
“It’s hard to guess, not even worth time guessing, whether they will use any film footage. But they absolutely liked my theory. They’re asking more questions all the time,” he said.