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

Jaimee Peters photo of a Willow Midwives helping with a birth. Willow closed its doors March 31 because of a shortage of midwives. (Contributed)
South Okanagan’s only midwifery to re-open this summer

Willow Community Midwives was forced to close because of a shortage of midwives

This parking on the east side of Martin Street will be removed permanently Monday morning (June 21, 2021) to put in the Lake to Lake bike lane. (City of Penticton)
Parking removed permanently to make way for bike lane in downtown Penticton

Work begins Monday morning to replace parking spots with bike lane on Martin Street

Gord Portman getting ready for the Father’s Day dunk tank fundraiser for Discovery House. So far Portman has raised $3,000. (Facebook)
Penticton man takes the plunge for recovery house that helped save his life

Gord Portman said Discovery House and Pathways have been everything in his 1 year sobriety

(File photo)
Supreme Court Justice rules Bay has to pay Penticton’s Cherry Lane mall

The ruling found that there had been no unavoidable delay preventing the Bay from paying their rent

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed Eli Beauregard facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Most Read