web analytics
The Secret (a treasure hunt) / Image 09
  • If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • You already know Dokkio is an AI-powered assistant to organize & manage your digital files & messages. Very soon, Dokkio will support Outlook as well as One Drive. Check it out today!


Image 09

This version was saved 4 years, 3 months ago View current version     Page history
Saved by Oregonian
on December 31, 2019 at 9:35:35 am

General notes on Image 9

  • This is the image for October and the immigration reference is to the Netherlands.
  • This image is thought to be linked to Verse 5 and a casque in Montreal, Canada.
  • For anyone interested in possible connections to Île Notre-Dame, Île Sainte-Hélène, and/or Expo 67, the expo 67 terre des hommes photo album on Flickr is an absolute must-see.  It has over 19,000 (!) historical photos of the area, showing just what a crazy acid trip of an experience the 1967 Expo must have been.



Image 9


Specific Observations

  Please record your notes about this image in the list below.  Use the letter/number grid to identify the point on the image that you're describing.  To keep things organized, 1) please start each observation with a letter/number combo (in bold), and 2) add new observations in the right place on the list to keep everything alphabetized.

  • D5 - The jewel in the middle of the hat is an opal, the birth stone for October.
  • D7 - The smooth outline of the hat changes to some very specific bulges here.  The shape of the outline is a reasonable match for a wider view of the SE bank of the St. Lawrence river where it passes Montreal.  
  • E3 - There's something hidden in the curls near the man's right ear.  Some people see letters and possibly a face.
  • E5 - The curls on the forehead may form "J19" or possibly "J9".
  • F7 - The curls of hair under the man's left ear are probably forming numbers or letters.  If letters, they might be JSA, JSH, or JSR.
  • F9 - Something is scratched into the wall here.  Some people see "Fèe" (the french word for fairy).  Others see "Peel" (a street near the legeater dog in the Golden Square Mile). 
  • G5-6 - There are four collar shapes that are obviously significant here.  Two are on the outer black coat and two are on the inner white shirt.
  • H4 - The flower is a calendula, the birth flower for October.
  • H5 - The stairstep pattern below the collar is very likely a stepped gable or crow-stepped gable from a roofline.  This fits in with the Dutch connection for the image, because such gables were a common, traditional design in Belgium and the Netherlands.
  • H7 - The square symbol above the dog contains an X indicating "10" (for the tenth month, October).  It also contains two symbols that may be runes (see below).  The "X" could represent an intersection where a small street crosses a larger one.
  • I4 - The number "67" (or possibly "467") is hidden in the flower.  The "6" could also be a musical note. 1967 is the year that Montreal hosted the universal exposition.
  • I7 - The legeater dog is the most distinctive feature of this illustration and it may be a reference to a lamp post at 1440 Rue Drummond in the middle of the Golden Square Mile.  (See below for more info.)
  • I7 - The black symbol next to the legeater dog is thought to be a representation of the Habitat 67 Building.
  • J6 & K6 - The hands appear to be forming some kind of symbol, possibly a church.
  • K4 & K7 - The sleeve cuffs have a checkered pattern that may be a reference to the checkered flags waved at the end of an auto race.  Montreal is the location for the Canadian Grand Prix that is held on Notre Dame Island.  The sleeve cuffs are also very similar to the sleeve cuffs in Image 1.  In both cases, the squares start very clearly and distinctly at the top and then fade away toward the bottom.



Image Matches

  There are two main theories for how to interpret the beret that fills the top of the picture.  The first theory is that the broad, spreading shape might be a representation of Mount Royal, which forms the skyline over downtown Montreal.


  If the man's head represents Mount Royal, it would make sense that the face would be half sad, because half the hilltop is taken up with a cemetary.


  This photo was taken from the northeast side of Mount Royal, looking to the southwest. 


  Obviously, the wavy lines on the right side of the hat must be a representation of something.  It would be very helpful to find the right match, because that might tell us where we should be standing when we face the hilltop.

By Montrealais at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2974363

  The other major interpretation for the shape of the beret is that it is a reflected and (very) stylized representation of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Notre Dame Island in the Saint Lawrence River.  The track was built in 1978 and is the home of the FIA Formula One Canadian Grand Prix.


  The picture on top at right is a reflected copy of the original beret.  Note that the wavy lines on one side of the beret roughly correspond to turns 11 through 15 in the map at right.

Map of the 1980 layout of Circuit Gilles Villeneuve by Xander89, taken from Wikimedia Commons. CC-BY-SA-3.0

  The repeated use of a checkerboard pattern - and particularly the two checkered cuffs - might be connected in some way with the checkered flag used to signal a winner in an auto race.  The Canadian Grand Prix has been held on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve (almost) every summer since 1978.


  The start & finish line for the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was repositioned several times over the years, but (fortunately) racing enthusiasts kept track of the different layouts.  The map in the row above is correct for 1978 to 1986, which is the time frame when Preiss would have been there.

The shape of the Montreal and Laval islands could be shown in the man's mouth and chin...
... or perhaps in the man's mouth and nose.  Either way, it's a strong match for the city of Montreal.

  Alternatively, the mouth could be a representation of the mirrored shape of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.  The north end of the track forms the smiling side of the mouth, while the south end forms the frowning side. 


  In particular, the hairpin curve known as "L'Epingle" at the northern tip of the circuit seems to be clearly shown at the edge of the man's smile.


  The left side of the white shirt collar may form the outline of southwestern Quebec, where the boundary drops south, turns eastwards for awhile, and then makes a final, short drop to the south beside Montreal.

  The right side of the white shirt collar forms a very reasonable representation of the St. Lawrence River, as it flows northeast through Montreal.


  This is one of the strongest pieces of evidence tying this image to Montreal.

  The neckline of the man's shirt features a series of steps that go down and up.  When inverted, it forms the shape of a crow-stepped gable, which was a distinctive architectural feature in Holland.  The inclusion here might be just a nod to the immigration match or it might represent a specific building.


  By far the best match that has been found for the pattern on the man's neckline is the roofline of Trafalgar School for Girls in Montreal (far right).  The Trafalgar School is located within the Golden Square Mile, across Avenue du Docteur Penfield from Percy Walters Park.  There are probably more crow-stepped gables to be found in other historic neighborhoods, such as Old Montreal.


  Alternatively, the steps and checkerboard may be a nod to one of the stairstepped buildings found in Montreal.  The Sun Life Building that borders Dorchester Sq. is one candidate.  Another is the Aldred Building in Old Montreal.
  There's an interesting cross-hatched pattern on the man's neckline above the stairsteps.  The only strong match that has been proposed for that is on the trading stickers for the 1980 F1 Grand Prix season.  (The card for Montreal is shown at far right, but all of the racetrack layouts in the sticker series have the same background.)

  The flower on the shirt is a calendula, the birth flower for October.  It's also very similar to the Montreal city logo (far right) that was adopted and publicized in 1981 after a contest.  Each lobe of the "flower" is meant to be a combination of the letters V & M, for "Ville de Montreal."

  The calendula appears to contain the numbers 76, 67, and/or 767. Expo 67 was held in Montreal in 1967.  The Olympics were held in Montreal in 1976.  Both events were staged (at least in part) on Notre Dame Island, an artificial island that was built for the event in the Saint Lawrence River.

  Several people have also suggested that the flower could represent a rose window of the kind often found in cathedrals and other religious buildings.

  There's a rose window at Dawson College, which is a few blocks south of the Golden Square Mile.  The window is made of tan stone that matches the color used in the painting. 


  There's an even more flower-like rosette on the towers of the Notre-Dame Basilica located in the historic district of Old Montreal.  The basilica match has the advantage of being located beside the Aldred Building, which is a natural match for the stairstep pattern on the man's shirt.


  The image has a repeated motif of gold-colored squares.  They appear on the beret, the cuffs, and the neckline of the jacket.  This is very likely a strong hint in the direction of the Golden Square Mile, a neighborhood of historic older homes at the foot of Mount Royal in Montreal.     

  The most distinctive feature of Image 9 is the "legeater dog" that appears in a golden rectangle on the man's shirt.  The design closely matches the (bizarre) bases on the lampposts outside the George Stephen House located at 1440 Drummond Street, near the center of the Golden Square Mile.  The house was built in 1883 for George Stephen, 1st Baron Mount Stephen.  The lamps are an Italian design and very similar lamps are still in use in Palermo, Sicily.  (See photos here, here, here, and here.)  However, no other examples of this design have yet been found in North America.


  Most landmarks in The Secret are deliberately modified and obscured in Palencar's images.  The design of the lamppost base, however, is captured in unusual detail.  Only one thing seems to have been changed: the nose of the animal has been lengthened to change it from a cat or some kind of goblin into a recognizable dog.

Photo by wiki user Delilah, our Montreal detective!

  The shape beside the legeater dog has not yet been explained.  It appears to be formed from a series of connected squares with a few curves on one side.


  If the gold-colored rectangle represents Montreal's Golden Square Mile, it's possible that this is a cross-section or floor plan for one of the historic buildings.  To identify the building, we may need to look at aerial photos from around 1980.


  The other interpretation that has been proposed for this shape is that it is an abstract representation of the Habitat 67 Building, which is visible across the St. Lawrence River from Notre Dame Island.

  The man's hands form an awkward and unusual position, with some fingers pointing upwards and others arched over and down. 


  The best explanation that has been proposed is that this is a reference to a sculpture by Alexander Calder that was created for the 1967 World's Fair on Île Sainte-Hélène.  The title of the work is "L'Homme" (Man) so it's fitting that the image shows a man making the shape.  The sculpture was relocated in 1991, but at the time Preiss visited it would have been directly along the route described on the Verse 5 page.

"Man, Three Disks" by Alexander Calder, Île Sainte-Hélène, Montreal
Photograph by Montrealais, from Wikimedia Commons. CC-BY-SA-3.0
  On the wall to the right of the man there are some scratchings that are obviously significant.  If those letters spell out "Peel," as some people have suggested, it could be a hint toward Rue Peel, which runs through the Golden Square Mile two blocks away from Rue Drummond.  Rue Peel also runs all the way down to the river and ends up in Griffintown, just two blocks away from where the Canada launched (see Verse 5 for more info).

 The square with the X appears to contain two runes.  The one on the left appears to be wunjô.  The one on the right appears to be a reflected version of laguz.


 The "runes" have an interesting resemblance to the characters in the logo for Expo 67.  The logo appears prominently on a wall at the Place des Nations, where the opening and closing ceremonies were held.

Expo 67 logo.svg
By Julien Hébert - Official Expo 1967 Guide Book. Toronto: Maclean-Hunter Publishing Co. Ltd. 1967. p.29, Public Domain.

  The collar of the man's robe may have an outline that represents the roads around Mount Royal.  (Note that the map at far right is turned almost upside-down, so north is at the lower right.)


  If this interpretation is correct, the lowest, central park of the neckline (between 4 and 5) would correspond to the George-Étienne Cartier Monument on Av du Parc.  The stretch between 3 and 4 would be contained inside the campus of McGill University.


  This map interprets the edge of the shirt collar (the blue line) as the Voie Camillien-Houde, the road that divides Mount Royal between the cemetery and the park.

  The hair contains various curves that could be numbers.




Latitude / Longitude Hints

Montreal is between the latitudes of 45 and 46 degrees north.  It is between the longitudes of 73 and 74 degrees west.




The Rembrandt Connection:

Image 9 appears to be a visual reference to Self-Portrait with Beret and Turned-Up Collar, which was painted by Rembrandt in 1659.


Each painting shows a single individual seated before a flat, golden-brown background that only varies in subtle degrees of light.  Each subject is wearing dark robes that tend to fade into the background and is seated with clasped hands, looking directly at the viewer.

The figure in each portrait is wearing a beret that crosses the forehead in a broad arch.  Graying, curly hair protrudes from under the beret on each side, partially covering each subject's ears.
The tunic worn by each subject has a high collar that runs along the lower edge of a cheek before plunging down to leave an open neckline where it meets the chin.




The Mirrored Composite Structure:

  • The two sides of the man's face do not show the usual symmetry.  The individual is smiling with an open eye on the left side of the image and frowning with a more narrowed eye on the right.  In addition, the left half of the background is dark and the right half is light and the necklines on the two sides of the tunic are not symmetrical.  All of these contrasts suggest that the image is meant to be a combination of two different figures (or of two different aspects of the same figure).
  • If you place a mirror along the line of the jewel and the nose, you can create either a smiling face on a dark background or a frowning face on a light background.  (The smiling, sharp-nosed fellow with the wide hat and high collar looks very much like Napoleon Bonaparte. Note: There is a restaurant in Montreal named Bonaparte, close to the St. Lawrence River.)
Original image of Christ the Saviour (Pantokrator), a 6th-century encaustic icon from Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai. Mirrored composites formed from each of the two sides of the face (using Photoshop) to make it easier for people to visualize the two different depictions.




The Percy Walters Park Theory:

  Most of the discussion on the Verse 5 page centers on Saint Helen's Island in the St. Lawrence river, but the clues in the image seem to point in a different direction.  One strong match that has been proposed is Percy Walters Park at the base of Mt. Royal near downtown Montreal.  Consider the following evidence:

  The use of the man's beret as a representation of Mount Royal would make sense for Percy Walters Park, which is located at the base of the hill.



  The golden rectangle on the front of the man's shirt may be a reference to the Golden Square Mile, a neighborhood of historic older homes near downtown Montreal.  Percy Walters Park (outlined in red on the map at far right) is inside the Golden Square Mile.
  The best match that has been found for the "stairstep" pattern on the man's neckline is the top of the Trafalgar School for Girls in Montreal.  The Trafalgar School is across the street from Percy Walters Park.
Photo by wiki user Delilah.  (Thanks!)
  On the south side of the park, where Avenue McGregor makes a bend, there is a sign with a gold-and-black checkerboard pattern that resembles the pattern on the man's shirt and cuffs.
Photo by wiki user Delilah.  (Thanks again!)
  No one has ever offered a strong explanation for why the "legeater dog" is in the picture. The lamp bases at the former Mount Stephen Club are actually fairly small (see image at far right) and they are not a well-known symbol for Montreal.  Most searchers agree that the casque is not buried at that spot.  But if the gold-colored rectangle refers to the Golden Square Mile, we may be looking for a place that is somehow associated with dogs inside those boundaries.  And Percy Walters Park is an off-leash dog park.  (This might also explain why the image is considerably more dog-like than the original lamp base, which may actually show a cat of some kind.)
Photo by wiki user Delilah, our Montreal detective.
And, finally, there is the interesting interview that Byron Preiss gave to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on 10/25/1982.  In describing his adventures burying the casques, Preiss volunteered that "dogs got in an uproar" at one site.  None of the other proposed locations in other cities are in off-leash dog parks, so it makes sense that Montreal would be the site of this experience.




Other Notes:

  • Several people have suggested that the design on the front of the shirt might actually be a map of the area on the southeast side of Mount Royal in Montreal.  (Click on map below to see a larger version.)
  • Under this interpretation, the zig-zag neckline would be the "stairstep" boundary of Mount Royal Park.  The lowest point of the neckline would be the Trafalgar School (which also has the stairstep profile).  The legeater dog in the gold box would be the George Stephen House inside Montreal's Golden Square Mile.  And the flower could represent the rosette window at the College Dawson.
  • The Abbot's fingers form an X more or less directly over Edifice/Academie Bourget, however, his hands take up so much space in the picture that the "church" he's creating could be the Anglican Church of St. James the Apostle (Rue St. Catherine X Rue Bishop), or the Soeurs Grises Convent (there is a mall on the NW side that has a large arch-shaped window that could be the "arc of lights" from the verse). 




Questions, questions, questions...

  • Is there some significance to the way the hands are clasped with certain fingers raised?
  • What is the meaning of the two runes in the square with the X?
  • What is the meaning of the black shape beside the "legeater dog"?  If it's a floor plan, what building does it match?
  • What do the curves at the right edge of the hat represent?  (A road?  A river?)




How to obtain permission for attempted recovery




Process Status:

Contact info Status:

As of Date:


Contact information:




Alternate Contact info: 


Permissions Process:



Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.