The Case of the Missing Case
A brilliant ad campaign
People of a ‘certain age’ will likely remember an ad campaign in the 1970s and '80s conducted by Canadian Club (CC) Whiskey. It created some mysteries so intriguing that people traveled all over the world in their attempts to locate the subjects of the ads and claim a supposed $10,000 prize for locating them. Lake Placid was one of the destinations used in this ad campaign. To date, the mystery of "the missing case" in Lake Placid has never been solved according to local lore and the media. Here’s the back story…
It all started in the late '60s with a brilliant promotion concocted by the ad agency for Canadian Club. The company hid a couple dozen cases of CC in various locations around the world over the course of a highly successful advertising promotion, spanning several years. The cases were all hidden in well-known locations such as The Great Barrier Reef in Australia, Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, Loch Ness, Scotland, the North Pole, Death Valley, the Lost Dutchman mine area in Arizona... and Lake Placid, among several others. The promotion was known as Canadian Club Hide-A-Case. We haven't been able to determine if there really was a $10,000 prize for finding the case or not - some say there was and others say the prize was just the case of booze. We're still not sure.
Here are a few of the ads for the hidden cases:
The mystery unfolds
According to a Canadian Club website I accessed a few years ago, nine of the cases have never been found, including the one in Lake Placid. Unfortunately, those Canadian Club web pages I found then seem to be gone now. Canadian Club revived the contest in 2010 in a sort of Survivor-type competition to find the unfound case in Tonga. They staged the hunt by using an elaborate video competition to select the handful of competitors who each won a trip to Tonga to search for the case, the location of which was eventually found. The actual case was not found as it lay under a crater lake and they didn't have the equipment to actually recover it. But a winner, Kristina Beall, was declared as she got to the location first. To my knowledge, nothing has been done since then about any of the other unfound cases. Most were buried, except for the case hidden under a receptionist’s desk in a Madison Avenue skyscraper in Manhattan. It would appear none of the others have been located since around 1980. In the early 1990s Canadian Club was sold and no one I’ve contacted has been able to verify whether any of the unfound cases are, in fact, still where they were originally buried.
The Lake Placid story
The Lake Placid case has an interesting story. In late summer of 1979 a team of ad agency execs rolled into Lake Placid, apparently on a mission to hide a case of Canadian Club Whiskey somewhere in the area... As recollected by Bradley Streeter, who worked at Adirondack Loj along with John Stacey, the general manager at the time, they remember the ad agency crew showing up at the door with the intention of obtaining permission to hide the case on Adirondack Loj property. After John Stacey made a call to the Adirondack Mountain Club head office in Lake George, the ‘suits’ were informed it didn’t appear ADK property was going to be the final resting place for a case of CC. Streeter recalls that the ADK home office said, “it doesn’t fit the image of the Adirondack Mountain Club." And with that, the ad agency guys left Adirondack Loj.
I just recently had a phone conversation with Streeter about that 1979 encounter with the ad agency folks. It seems that shortly thereafter on that same day, Streeter, an avid jogger, was running along Adirondack Loj Road when he spotted the car the ad agency folks had been driving on the side of the road with no one inside. He surmised they must be out in the woods on state land hiding the case. He claims the spot he saw the car is exactly 1.9 miles from Adirondack Loj, near a spot where a culvert went under the road. According to Streeter the name of the brook which flowed through that culvert was "Alcohol Brook". I've not been able to find any reference to an Alcohol Brook on any topo or other maps. If one were to interpret the clues given about the Lake Placid case in the advertisement for the promotion, it would appear that spot wouldn't be a viable location for the lost case of CC.
As interpreted by many searchers over the years, one of the clues (“those who seek gold will miss by a quarter mile”) indicates the case of CC might well be located in a place a quarter mile from one of the Olympic venues. Of course, that particular interpretation could be way off. Perhaps it means something else. “Cresting a steep hill,” “open field,” “fence row,” and references to “following our sixth sense” and “we could make out the silhouette of towering Whiteface Mountain” are all part of the cryptic descriptions for finding the spot at which the case was buried. There may have been signs or landmarks that correlate to some of those clues given at the time which may or may not still be around.
I've talked with some of the searchers recently and many of them have their theories that the case is located somewhere near the Olympic ski jumps. This has seemed to be the most plausible place, given the clues, but no one has found it yet. The resources available to treasure hunters these days are many, including Google Earth and gps. We'd love to hear your theories and we'd really love it if someone eventually found the case and solved the mystery once and for all!
Over the years there have been many people and groups obsessed with finding that case. There’s been talk that perhaps it was found by some under-age kids who were intent on drinking it and not claiming they’d found it. But then, there was that $10,000 reward.........or was there? The mystery lives on. It’s highly unlikely CC would pay off on the $10,000 at this point as it’s not even the same company that owns the brand, but who wouldn’t want the bragging rights, not to mention 12 bottles of 36 year old whiskey! And who knows? Maybe Canadian Club would pay. It would make great fodder for the media and great new exposure for Canadian Club!
My recent email inquiry to Canadian Club public relations yielded little information. The most recent email replies to my questions (about the missing cases around the world and Lake Placid’s in particular):
- “Great question. We did find about five cases, but we suspect there are about five still out there that have been “lost.”
- “Unfortunately, those responsible for hiding the cases are no longer with Canadian Club and we don’t have records about where they are. I wish I could give you more information, but unfortunately, they’re lost.”
It’s the most I’ve been able to garner from anyone connected with Canadian Club. It isn’t much. My attempts to find anyone connected with CC's ad agency at the time have also yielded no results. I’m still hopeful though!
Maybe YOU can find it!
So, there you have it - the story of the missing case of Canadian Club in Lake Placid. We think it would be pretty cool if people took up the challenge again and started seriously searching for this “lost” case of CC. The cases in other parts of the world were buried (except for one in Manhattan), so we should assume Lake Placid’s case is also buried. A case in Tonga was found a few years ago (with the help of a new CC promotion in 2010), as was the case hidden under a secretary’s desk in a mid-town Manhattan skyscraper. The Manhattan case was found due to the incredible tenacity of the two guys who searched for it for years.
Canadian Club has gained renewed popularity since becoming a cult beverage of choice for fans of the TV series Mad Men. Don Draper likes to imbibe in a snapper of CC at any time of day - morning, noon, or night. The TV show depicts an era in which the 2-martini lunch was commonplace and execs kept fully stocked bars in their offices. No stressful situation or celebration was complete without a belt of Canadian Club for Don Draper and the other execs, regardless of the time of day! Wouldn’t you love to have the missing case of CC decorating YOUR 60s themed office?
Make plans to come search for yourself. We’ve got all the maps and resources you might need here in our Visitor Center. Heck, we’ll even give you some tips if you do come to search! And there’s a prize!
We've got prizes of our own...
Whiteface Lodge, one of our amazing local lodging partners, has agreed to provide a prize of a two-night stay for two if the case is ever found. And if it’s found we’ll add more to this great prize package when it happens. In the meantime, come see if you can solve this great local mystery and win a stay at Whiteface Lodge. There are a few little secrets that will help us identify the case and bottles if they’re ever found, so don’t think you can outsmart us by bringing in a regular old case of Canadian Club to claim the prize! You'll also have to show us where you dug it up, how you got there and lots of photo documentation. And who knows? Maybe the current owners of Canadian Club would actually pay up on that legendary $10,000 finder's reward! You never know.
What's your theory?
If you have any theories you'd like to share, post a comment below. We'd love to hear what you have to say about this nagging Adirondack mystery!
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There are lots of lodging options if you plan a treasure hunting trip, so check out our lodging pages first.
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