Shucking Oysters: You Can’t Win Them All


Like most people, I can usually enjoy a feel-good story without too much cynicism. So, when I read about someone on Denman Island winning half a million it made me feel good. Did you know that the odds of winning the $500,000 Daily Grand prize are one in 2,224,698? One lucky random moment at the Driftwood Mall lottery kiosk; that’s all it takes. 

Words that some 2023 BC lottery winners have used to describe how they felt: Disbelief. Shaking. Vibrating with excitement. Life-altering. Overwhelming. Fantastic. Wanted to cry. One thing is for sure, they all had that same giddy feeling. I remember that feeling. Years ago, I thought I had won $91,000 in the Monopoly Scratch game. As I drove to my partner’s workplace I positively vibrated with glee. And then in three seconds, I went from flying high as a kite to crashing to the ground with a thud. My “roll” of the dice was wrong. I will always remember that feeling, because nothing since has come close, nothing.

Where lottery winners differ is in what they first choose to spend it on. A $16,000 refrigerator, dream homes, a Mercedes Camper, exotic travels, a truck and RV trailer, or some pay off their mortgage. In 2020, when a Cumberland woman won $50,000 in a $3 Bingo Blast scratch game, the first thing she did with her winnings was head to a local restaurant for a roast beef dinner with Yorkshire pudding.

Last year, professional bookkeeper, William Scott Gurney won a $55-million jackpot, the largest prize ever won from a ticket purchased on Vancouver Island at the Save-On-Foods in Sidney. Gurney planned to travel, help his family, and purchase a home on Vancouver Island — something with a dock, as “he loves crabbing.” He confirmed then that he “will not be returning for another tax season.” Today, he’s probably hiding under a large rock in the Cayman Islands.

Perhaps, the best feel-good lottery story, is 18-year-old university student Juliette Lamour from Sault Ste. Marie, the youngest person in Canadian lottery history to win $48 million last year — and she did it on her first-ever lottery ticket purchase. As for what Lamour will do with the money, her dad (like Taylor Swift’s dad) is a financial planner and the majority will be put away in “carefully chosen investments.” Lamour said she remains committed to becoming a doctor and practicing in Northern Ontario. “As a member of the Garden River First Nation community, I was eligible for educational assistance programs, but I no longer need those resources, which means someone else in the community can benefit from that funding.” And after that? “Once school is done, my family and I will pick a continent and start exploring,” Lamour said.

Meanwhile, back on Hornby in 2013, resident Christa Weiss, purchased a quick pick Lotto Max ticket at Ford Cove Store, having to share the second prize of $373,805.40 with two other winners from Quebec. By matching six of seven numbers plus the bonus they each got $124,601.80. If Christa matched one more number, she would have won $22,063,437.50. Luck can be so fickle.

Confession. I’ve been buying lottery tickets for years. I’ll admit, it’s all a part of my future retirement plan. And since the pandemic, I have been purchasing most of my tickets online. That’s when I started obsessing about how much Ontario and Quebec won the lottery compared to the rest of us in Canada. It’s not a conspiracy, they just have more people, though my brain does not compute.


I remember as a kid watching the 6/49 balls being drawn Sunday night on TV, like those bingo ball machines. And it was riveting — back then. How are the winning numbers drawn today? The national lottery draws (Lotto Max, Lotto 6/49, and Daily Grand) are conducted in Toronto using Random Number Generator software, while BC/49 is drawn by a stand-alone computer at BCLC’s head office in Kamloops, all while two guys in smart suits, holding brief cases, watch with precision. 

I always said that if I won a chunk of money in the lottery, I’d like to be the unknown benefactor. You hear about someone’s hot water tank breaking down, and when they get home, a new tank awaits them or some other such thing. I think I need to shake it up. Maybe I’d win, if I say, “If I win the lottery, I’m going to buy the million dollar UFO-shaped aquatic, Anthenea, with wet bar, lounge area, master bedroom, circular soaking tub, and pop-up upper-level solarium.” Or not.