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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health update. File photo.
86 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

The new deaths are from Heritage Square, a long-term care facility in Vernon

A performance by Alex Cuba will be streaming live on Arts Revelstoke platforms on Feb. 12, 2021. (Photo by Jeff Fasano, submitted by Arts Revelstoke)
Arts Revelstoke hosting virtual performances and movies this season

REVY. Live and Movies in the Mountains is returning

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
115 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths in Interior Health

There are now a total of 4,970 cases in the region

Shrubbery peeking through snow in downtown Revelstoke on Jan. 14. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
95% less snow in Revelstoke this winter compared to last year

However, there’s plenty of snow in the alpine

The City of Revelstoke is encouraging people to vote by mail in the upcoming byelection. An application for due on Jan. 27 is required. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
City pushes residents to vote by mail in upcoming byelection

Deadline to apply is by the end of January

President Donald Trump speaks to the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021 in Washington. The President is traveling to Texas. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Black Press Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week

In case you missed it, here’s what made waves throughout the week

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A COVID-19 outbreak at Vernon's Heritage Square long-term care home has claimed seven people. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Two more COVID-19 deaths at Vernon care home

Heritage Square has now lost seven people due to the outbreak

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

(Big White Ski Resort photo)
13 more cases of COVID-19 tied to Big White Mountain cluster

This brings the total case count to 175, of which 32 cases are active

Most Read