Bill Wilson was driving down a rural road near McCord, Sask., when a grasshopper flew into his vehicle and landed on his chest. He grabbed the insect and flung it out the window. A few minutes later, he realized his wedding ring was gone.

That was around 45 years ago.

Wilson, now 80, farmed near the small community, a little more than 100 kilometres northeast of the Monche crossing at the American border.  At the time, he didn't always wear his ring, as it was a safety hazard during farm work.

Still, the ring meant enough to him that he launched a search. Wilson even used a metal detector on a number of occasions, according to his son Stuart Wilson.

Bill Wilson wedding photo

Bill Wilson, left, appears next to his wife Audrey Walker on their wedding day, July 9,1966. (Submitted by Anne Hayter)

"We looked off and on for years. Every time I drove by there, I drove with my head out the window," he said.

However, if the ring had landed in a cultivated field, finding it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack, he said.

A chance encounter

Recently, Carlee Goodwin, who lives roughly a mile from where the ring was lost, happened upon the ring as she was walking along the road one day. 

"It had rained the day before, kind of shined the surface of the ring, and I come along and see it shining," Goodwin said. "I saw it reflecting, and I dug it out."   

Carlee Goodwin

Carlee Goodwin found the long-lost wedding ring buried in a dirt road that she likes to walk along. (Submitted by Anne Hayter)

She phoned her grandmother to tell her about the find and inquired about how to find the owner. She'd found it by "the old school marker," she told her grandmother. 

Goodwin said her grandmother told her the school had been closed for 50 years, and anyone who had a wedding ring before that is long since dead, so just forget about it. 

Return of the ring

A couple of days later, Wilson bumped into "Grandma" at an auction sale and she mentioned it to him, asking if he knew anyone who'd lost a ring in the area.

"I told her, yes, I did. I told her it was me and I told her what was engraved inside it," he recalled. Wilson could remember the ring design and carat size that was engraved on the inside.

"I kinda wish I had a picture of her face."

The woman's mouth dropped open and her eyes got big, he recalled.

"I don't believe it," he remembered her saying, noting Wilson was only the second person she'd asked about the missing ring.

Goodwin said it was surreal to find a long-lost ring, and then locate the owner.

"I didn't think I would find the owner. I was blown away," Goodwin told CBC News. "It's almost like the ring wanted to be found."

Bill Wilson and his wife

Bill Wilson has been married for more than 50 years. His wedding ring was lost for around 45. (Submitted by Anne Hayter)

Wilson remembers being "awed" after getting the ring back, looking at it sitting on his coffee table in front of him.

The ring was missing for the better part of his marriage, he said, noting he's been married for 51 years. Most of his children were so young when he lost it that they don't even recall seeing it.

"It's a little worse for wear," he said.

But as he never bought a replacement, the long-lost ring is now back on his finger.

With files from CBC Saskatchewan's Afternoon Edition