New Brunswick man goes treasure hunting, finds WWII-era mortars

While treasure hunting with his metal detector, a New Brunswick man recently dug up a pair of live mortar shells from the 1940s.

“I wish they would have said it was a dud, and I could have kept them,” said Hollis Justason in an interview with Information Morning Saint John. “I thought I was pretty lucky. I had no idea there would be live rounds.”

Justason and a friend found the mortars last week while cutting through a blueberry field in Charlotte County, N.B. Although the exact location is unspecified due to safety reasons, this area of New Brunswick held a military training base as well as a Royal Canadian Air Force training base throughout the 1940s.

Justason told The Canadian Press he and his friend were looking for coins and other artifacts near an “old log cabin” when the metal detector alerted them to something below the field’s surface.

“A friend of mine who was with me picked up a signal and he dug up a mortar tail from a two-inch mortar,” Justason told The Canadian Press. “So we started looking around and found a few of those.”

The duo found two complete mortars: one was heavily oxidized, but another still had its markings and “was in pretty good shape,” said Justason, who added he took the mortars home to “do a little research on them.”


Justason began cleaning his new discovery at home; however, his father-in-law – formerly of the Canadian military – called and advised him to notify the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who quickly called the bomb squad at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown. The experts determined the shells were still live and highly explosive, so Justason’s discovery was taken away and detonated.

“They burn blueberry fields every couple of years to make the berries grow better,” added Justason. “I’d be a little nervous about that.”

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