Alex Storm, a Cape Breton-er, author and co-discoverer of the french ship SS Cormeau passed away August 12, 2020 at 80. A famous Cape Breton Island treasure hunter, story teller and historian, he will be remembered as an restless adventurer.
Alex was born in Indonesia to Dutch parents and came to Ontario, Canada after living in a Japanese prisoner of war camp as a child. Alex was searching for a safe place to settle down. Alex loved the ocean, so upon his arrival in Ontario, wanted to move to Nova Scotia. There he met his wife, Emily, married, and started fulfilling his passion of the ocean and treasure hunting.
In September 1965, the missing hull from Le Chameau shipwreck was discovered by Alex Storm, Dave MacEachern, and Harvey Macleod. Alex had made this his mission to find the Chameau and the “treasure”.
Built in 1717 in Rochefort, France, Le Chameau was the brainchild of young naval architect Blaise Ollivier. After visiting English and Netherlands shipyards, he envisaged a rapid, yet well-armed naval transport called a flute. (Dutch style of sailing vessel) The LE Chameau from 1719 to 1725, carried cargo, passengers, and funds from France to the New France (Quebec) in Canada and returned with passengers and cargo such as wood, wood tar, and beaver pelts.
Chameau set out on her final voyage from La Rochelle, France in July 1725. Onboard was a huge quantity of gold, silver and copper. The ship was swept onto the rocks by a storm on August 27, 1725 near Louisbourg, Nova Scotia. The Chameau sank, and all aboard died. The death toll varied from 216 to more than 300. 180 bodies washed ashore and buried in a mass grave site.
Alex and his buddies retrieved thousands of dollars of gold, silver and copper coins from the Cormeau, hiding them in bags so the watchman on the dock didn’t discover their findings. Alex, Dave and Harvey were able to keep their recovery mission a secret for 8 months. It is said that their treasure find was the largest ever in Canada.
Read The Scuba News Canada story on “The Treasure Act In Nova Scotia”
But all the money and fame was not to last, as a “partner dispute” was filed in court, saying Alex had partnered with others before Dave and Harvey. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada and their decision: “The Supreme Court of Canada was not in position to fix completely the errors made in the lower courts, however, and Storm received a majority of the treasure”. Treasure hunting laws are much different in Nova Scotia today.
Alex Storm contributed to the history of Atlantic Canada through more than just wreck hunting. He worked to restore the Louisbourg Fortress, and even opened a museum of objects he had found in Newfoundland and from the shores of Nova Scotia, in his home in Louisbourg.
Just before Alex passed away he believed somewhere out there, was hidden “treasure”.