Billy Gerhardt rose to worldwide fame after being contracted by the famous Lagina brothers to help them excavate the many remaining secrets of Oak Island in Nova Scotia – a piece of land protruding from the Atlantic Ocean whose repute of mystery dates back decades. His first appearance on the TV screen took place in 2017, in the 13th episode of the fourth season, entitled “One of Seven.”
The tale that lured Gerhardt in
The award-winning entrepreneur and media personality appeared to be rather picky as to what kind of show he’d appear in first, ultimately choosing “The Curse of Oak Island” to further boost his career. Among the many reasons for this decision, there’s the fact that its reputation preceded all of the competition, especially in Canada, where his business is located.
The series itself was booted up in 2014 by Prometheus Entertainment for the History Channel, set to finally bring the island of legends to everyone’s television set. The Lagina brothers were hired to reveal its secrets once and for all, and their expertise in the relevant field has since proved instrumental in the series’ success.
As outlined in History Channel’s YouTube video entitled “The Curse of Oak Island: Oak Island Mystery EXPLAINED *Flashback to the Start* (Season 1) | History,” the brothers moved from Michigan, USA to Oak Island, Canada in February 2013.
Rick Lagina, being the older brother, made sure to bring Marty along for the project, as it would’ve been impossible for him to tackle otherwise. The younger Lagina has a great wealth of experience when it comes to finding objects, being a certified diver himself, with numerous successful dives under his belt.
Still, in spite of the brothers’ vast array of capabilities, Oak Island initially proved to be quite intimidating, not for lack of dozens upon dozens of past explorers, who fought tooth and nail for just a piece of the massive puzzle, only to succumb to the unforgiving landscape at the very end.
To that effect, Marty Lagina said ‘Several generations of people spent an enormous amount of money, and risked life and limb, and died looking for something here, on Oak Island. There’s been a constant history of people doing that. I mean, it seems like each person or group that gets involved then just doesn’t give up until they either die or they go bankrupt.’
Interestingly, backing up all of the fear-inducing tales of the island is a tombstone dedicated to those mentioned by Marty. It reads ‘Oak Island Memorial, 1795-1995,’ and below ‘IN MEMORY OF THOSE WHO LOST THEIR LIVES WHILE PURSUING THE OAK ISLAND QUEST.’
Thus far the stone refers to six individuals who’ve tragically perished throughout the nearly 250 years that the island’s been subject to persistent exploration and excavation. Adding to that is another folktale, with Marty explaining that ‘There’s the famous Oak Island legend – six people have died, and a seventh has to die in search of the treasure, and that’s when all will be revealed.’
Rather than deter them, however, these myths only served to further encourage the Laginas to pursue the truth of the island to whatever lengths necessary. Part of the reason for their unwavering dedication is that they found the idea attractive even during childhood, making it a real-life fantasy that they can actually fulfil.
Rick explained ‘When I was 11 years old, I read the story of Oak Island and I was hooked. I brought it home and read it to my brother.’ Marty added ‘Yeah, he shows it to me and, of course, you know, it had all the things people like – treasure, mystery, booby traps. It had all the stuff that interests a kid. It’s your big brother talking to you too, you know, and he knows.’
It was obviously very easy for Marty to get stuck on the same idea rather quickly, mostly thanks to the influence of his older brother. He further explained that his reaction was ‘Look what he found, you know, wow, this is going to be great.’
They then proceeded to explain one of the many tales that had the name of Oak Island spread throughout the world like wildfire, saying ‘200 years ago, some kids find an interesting spot up on Oak Island, off-shore Nova Scotia. They dig and they find some stones laid in, they find some planks, things that would have to be man-made, so they’re sure they’re onto something.’
It’s worth noting that, in the aforementioned period, there was an abundance of treasure tales being told from community to community, with everyone believing that their own big hit is just around the corner.
Marty explained that as well, stating ‘It was the end of the piracy era, right, so everybody’s thinking buried treasure. No matter how deep they get, they keep finding more planks that appear to be concealing something. They give up at about 20 feet (6 meters) deep because they’re digging by hand.’
That was only the beginning of the island’s ceaseless excavations, since word spread far and wide that an ancient pirate treasure is most likely to be found here, with all gathered evidence pointing to it.
Lagina added ‘And then there’s a succession of people that come back, and they keep digging, and they find more platforms every 10 feet (3 meters), and they find more odd stuff – a bit of change, all kinds of wood that shouldn’t be there. Down about 90 feet (27 meters), they find a stone that’s inscribed with strange engravings.’
It appeared as though the mystery was about to be solved, with the island’s obvious treasure room having been discovered. However, things took a turn for the worse soon after, with Marty explaining that ‘Finally, someone else comes in and they find that that shaft was actually booby-trapped, that there’s a flood tunnel to the ocean, and, all of a sudden, the water floods it.’
It was here that the legend really took off, since everyone was then absolutely convinced that whoever had built the flood system must’ve been trying really hard to hide whatever was buried under the island, making it highly likely to be a massive fortune.
Lagina went on, saying ‘So then different people keep trying and trying – mining engineers, business people, President Franklin Roosevelt was involved, John Wayne was involved. Everyone wanted to get down to the bottom of this so-called money pit. As each successive treasure seeker goes through the years, they’ve continued finding things that kept them going.’
Almost as though created for a long-running reality TV series, Oak Island just won’t stop giving, but only piece by piece. The most valuable artifacts remain to be found, as well as the grand treasure itself. The team appears to be closer each year, yet their main objective is still far away.
Rick explained this phenomenon by stating ‘Each time it appears like there’s more and more evidence of man-made formations underground. One of the participants noticed this little pea-sized brown ball, and he unfurled it, and it turned out the little piece of parchment with an inscribed ‘V I’ on it, and we’re leaving out coconut fiber.’
The aforementioned material is a very peculiar find there, since the land formation itself isn’t host to any coconut trees, as such plants tend to grow in much warmer, southern regions. The question is then, who brought it there, from where, and why. In Marty’s own words, ‘I mean what the hell’s that [coconut fiber] doing on Oak Island?’
Aside from potentially hiding immeasurable wealth, the island also has its almost entire history shrouded in myths, many of which have been hypothesized over the years. Rick added ‘We wanted to know what really happened. There’s all kinds of theories. Certain people say that it’s Knights Templar treasure. Another theory is that it’s something from the Spanish plundering of the New World. And then there’s some people who credibly believe that it’s the lost manuscripts of Shakespeare.’
It seems that the island’s untold past is the real focus of the brothers, with potential earnings only being secondary. Rick confirmed this by saying ‘But the real core of the Oka Island story is who, why, when, where, how? That’s what really got me, for me, that’s it.’ Marty, on the other hand, chuckled and said ‘I was more interested in the treasure.’
Of course, there’s a very good reason for funds being a major focus of the excavations, with Marty explaining ‘How much money do we have invested in this? We have millions of dollars invested in this, but it’s not just an economic investment. I’m motivated by curiosity, I’m motivated by the hunt, I’m motivated by doing something with my brother that he’s always dreamed about doing.’
Walter’s Diary – Day 13Billy to the rescue but I told him to bring the Brinks truck.
As for the older Lagina, the reasoning appears to be just about the same, as he stated ‘It’s about family, it’s about love. And I love my brother. I mean, I wouldn’t want anybody in this with me other than him. And, if at some point we’re not successful, we know we tried together.’
Billy Gerhardt was obviously moved by the Laginas’ drive to uncover these secrets, employing his at-the-time one-man company under the name of William A. Gerhardt Property Improvement to help conduct excavations in some of the most sensitive and inaccessible spots on the island, including the money pit itself and other hidden chambers that contain potential gems of the past.
An entrepreneur first and foremost
Billy’s main gig before ending up on television has been the aforementioned business that he runs, which mostly focuses on landscaping, exclusively in the town they’re based in – Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Canada.
The company seems to have grown over the years, with its website now listing a multitude of dedicated and professional employees at their customers’ disposal 24/7, regardless of how busy Billy may get with his televised projects.
It’s beyond doubt that appearing in “The Curse of Oak Island” has helped boost the reach and growth of Billy’s company, with many fans of the show from all over Lunenburg wanting their homes sporting some of the best landscaping available in Canada.
The company has apparently been operational for over 30 years as of early 2023, having started up in Billy Gerhardt’s backyard. In the present-day, it features some of the most modern improvements required for what it strives to do, with a full-time staff that covers all times of the day and night, as well as crews ready to go at any given time.
The business offers year-round landscaping, aided by both long and short haul trucking divisions, boasting the ability to take on any landscaping project whatsoever. Most importantly, they are certified by the local Nova Scotia Construction Safety Association, with regular staff re-training so as to ensure constant optimal service.
Billy’s entertainment industry accolades
Having remained as a constant member of the series’ cast since 2017, Billy’s been featured in 96 out of 185 episodes of “The Curse of Oak Island,” in which he will continue to bask in the spotlight for a while, since his collaboration with the brothers is as smooth as ever, and the show itself looks to have a bright future.
Aside from the main show, Billy’s also been seen in the spin-off entitled “The Curse of Oak Island: Drilling Down,” in 11 out of its 49 episodes thus far, from 2019 to 2022. Gerhardt also found himself to be quite adept at providing the various materials necessary to construct complicated filming sets, which eventually led him into the art department of two significant titles.
Billy Gerhardt never gives a fuck on Oak Island.
Dead of winter: Fuck it, shorts
Everybody else in protective gear: Fuck it, shorts. pic.twitter.com/04CFSQRpHa
— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) January 14, 2021
He provided the greenery for three episodes of the drama mystery horror TV series entitled “Chapelwaite” in 2021, as well as 10 episodes of “From” in 2022. Since these episodes were filmed some years before their release, it makes sense that Billy received the Nova Scotia 2019 Film Crew Excellence Award for his contributions, which definitely helped his career along as well.
In early 2023, he remains committed to the complicated and sensitive excavations in “The Curse of Oak Island,” and also quite open to any extra work on side titles that require greenery, all the while running a rather successful business out of the spotlight.