For over six years I've been a haunted tour guide. A career with unusual benefits, like hearing insanely scary stories. Feeling a spirit stand next to me. And finding dimes, constantly.
We've all found coins lying about, inside our homes, workplaces or out on the street. Maybe less now that people don't carry cash as much, so it's become more noteworthy when we do. Especially when the same denomination keeps popping up in the most unexpected places.
I first noticed stray coins back in 2005 when my grandmother died. I would encounter a variety of change everywhere I went. At that time I wasn't aware of the idea that spirits will leave coins when they seek attention, but I had a sixth sense Baba was the money source. I made a snide remark to my mother, something like, what am I supposed to do with all this small change? The very next morning as I got out of my car, I found a toonie. A year later I was finding coins again, mainly dimes, and issued the same challenge, really just hoping to upgrade to a loonie. But then I got a $5 bill (well played, Baba). And so I started looking into this dimes and the dead business.
Turns out, it is a fairly common belief/superstition that dimes have spiritual meaning. The number 10 is considered a holy number, related to creation and divine perfection, and is often seen throughout the Bible. 10 is also symbolic of the circle, and of completion. But what does it mean to find a ten cent piece? Here's a summary of the most common beliefs:
A deceased person is trying to get your attention
Your spirit guides or ancestors are sending you a message
Angels are letting you know they got your back
A sign change is about to happen so pay attention
A sign you are on the right path
A sign you are coming full circle in a situation
If you're not a psychic medium, and I am not, it's a challenge for ghosts to communicate with us because we're a bit thick that way. Sending dimes seems like a good way to send a message. Who doesn't notice money?
It wasn't until I began my career in guiding haunted tours that finding dimes became a regular occurrence. It started with my job at the Haunted Vancouver Trolley Tours. At Mountainview Cemetery, we would visit 3 historically significant graves. My tour character was a wise-cracking fortune teller who of course would make jokes about them. But one day, in the middle of a busy drugstore, I had a crisis of conscious - what if the dead hated the jokes made at their expense? What if it made them sad?? As I was exiting the store, I found 3 dimes on the ground just outside the door, arranged in a perfect pyramid formation. At that moment I absolutely knew the spirits were fine with my grave humour. I also felt they were happy just being remembered. If instead 3 dimes had hit me in the face, or I had somehow choked on one, I might have come to a different conclusion.
Once I started guiding haunted walking tours, the discoveries increased tenfold. I recall my initial excitement when I would find a dime in the middle of a tour. It was rare that guests knew the significance and thus shared my enthusiasm, so I took the opportunity to educate them. During the height of the pandemic, when few people were walking the streets of Gastown and Downtown, dimes were still a regular find before, during and after my tours. Then it spilled into my daily life. Even my husband, a non-ghost believing atheist, said, damn this is highly abnormal. Not abnormal dear, paranormal.
There have been some particularly poignant moments in my dime finding. For example, when I had my first tour of 2021 after months on tour hiatus, I found 9 dimes in front of Waterfront Station, plus a couple quarters. As if all the ghosts of Gastown chipped in for a Welcome Back gift.
Or after an interview with a reporter writing a piece on Gastown ghosts, we both found dimes on our way home (I actually found three and she found only one, not that it's a popularity contest).
Or finding a dime right at the spot where my favourite ghost hangs out. And then feeling him walk with me. (I keep that special dime on my desk)
Possibly the most significant incident occurred back in November 2021. I was looking for community volunteer work of a historical nature. That's when I noticed a post from a local heritage house museum looking for volunteers. They gave me an interview and signed me on. I left the museum feeling thrilled about this new venture. Then a block away, I found a dime go figure, so I put it in my pocket. A few hours later, I found another dime in the ladies washroom of a restaurant. Pocketed that one too.
The next morning I finally retrieved these dimes from my jeans to examine them. They were both dated 2001 and had the same unique design. I did an internet search and was AMAZED: that year the Royal Canadian Mint put out a special dime commemorating the Year of Volunteers. If that wasn't a sign from spirits, guides or whoever, then nothing is. But it was a sign, a show of spiritual support of a volunteer role that I have come to love.
Of course I tell everyone (friends, family, tour guests, total strangers) about my experiences in the Dime Realm. And it gives me an immense joy when I later learn they have found a dime, picked it up, and pondered its meaning. My brother believes there is significance to finding them heads vs tails up. I have tried to assign meaning to the year the dime was issued but have found no common threads.
All my dimes are collected in a special box. I'll never spend them. And I log every single find in a special diary. It sounds excessive but if spirits are going to the trouble of giving me cash, it's the least I can do to save it.