The Curse of Oak Island: Who was treasure hunter Robert Restall?

Robert Restall and his family
The Restalls on Oak Island in the 1960s — from left to right, Robert Jr, Robert Sr, Mildred and Rick. Pic credit: History

On The Curse of Oak Island this week, the team were excited when they found in Smith’s Cove what they believe may have been a shaft dug by past treasure hunter Robert Restall. But who was the late Oak Island explorer?

In the 1950s Robert Restall moved his wife and two sons to the island, where they lived year round, and spent the next six years searching for the legendary treasure rumored to be buried on the Nova Scotian island.

It takes a special brand of bravery and self-assuredness to pull up stakes and dedicate day and night to looking for treasure that some say couldn’t possibly exist. Robert and Mildred Restall had that kind of special fire burning within. The couple were daredevils who made a living performing dangerous motorcycle stunts, including one called the Globe of Death.

But when Robert caught wind of the legend of Oak Island treasure, he developed, as many before him, an unshakable obsession with the place.

It was an obsession that drove his willingness to survive in spartan conditions, compounded by fierce weather, with no running water.

In 1965 Restall expressed his belief that they were within weeks of solving the elusive mystery of where valuable riches and artifacts lay buried. Tragically, that summer an accident in an exploratory shaft near Smith’s Cove took the lives of several men, including Restall and his son.

Today the event is known as the Restall Tragedy, and there is a sign on the island commemorating the catastrophic occurrence.

The team are well-versed in the work that Restall performed on the island prior to his too-early demise. So, when in the Season 6 episode, Short Days and Tall Knights, Marty thinks their find could be a shaft made by Restall, their hopes are lifted.

Using a shovel, Rick discovers that this structure is indeed a shaft, and believes it to be one of Restall’s. Adding to the team’s excitement, five weeks ago red dye was found in the location following a major experiment conducted in the hopes of locating a flood tunnel connected to the treasure shaft. Within hours of the experiment, red dye was found near the current dig site.

Could this shaft, possibly dug by Robert Restall, a man who gave his life trying to solve the Oak Island mystery, be the key to solving the 223 year old riddle currently consuming Rick and Marty Lagina and their modern-day treasure hunting team?

Be sure to tune in next week and find out!

The Curse of Oak Island airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c.

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