Calgary metal detectorist seeks owner after digging up gold ring inscribed 'Audrie'

A metal detecting enthusiast in Calgary hopes to find the owner of a well-worn gold ring that he found buried nearly 10 centimetres deep in a field outside a school in the city's northeast.

John Paterson thinks it may be a wedding band as engraving says '1959'

John Paterson is trying to find the owner of this ring he found in a field in the northeast Calgary community of Renfrew. (John Paterson, Paul Karchut/CBC)

A Calgary man is searching for the owner of a well-worn gold ring inscribed "Audrie" and dated "1959."

John Paterson, a metal detecting enthusiast, found the jewellery buried nearly 10 centimetres deep in the field outside Colonel Macleod School in the city's northeast on Sunday.

The field used to be the site of the old Calgary airfield. Paterson lives in the neighbourhood, Renfrew, so he often searches the grass for tunic buttons, hat badges and other unusual finds.

Usually the school field holds pencil numbs, zippers and pennies, so he was startled to find the gold ring.

"The ring has an awful lot of wear on it so I think it was worn quite some time before it was dropped in the soil," Paterson told the Calgary Eyeopener on Thursday. "But you never know, Audrie may not be with us but her children might be listening."

Audrie from 1959

Paterson wants to find the owner and return the ring. It's a gold band with some detailing and a silver ring around the outside. On the inside, the name Audrie is inscribe, along with a date in 1959.

(He's keeping the month and day secret for now, in the hope that the rightful owner can name those digits to claim it.)

This ring was found in Calgary's northeast. As pictured, the ring is inscribed with "Audrie." There's also a date on the inside with the year 1959. (John Paterson)

If the date marks a wedding, Paterson thinks the bride would likely be in her 80s now. If it notes a birth date, Audrie would be just under 60.

"Most rings don't have anything on the inside. This one's an exception," he said. "So I thought, 'Old people listen to CBC. Let's give it a shot.'"

He also thinks the ring belonged to either a woman or someone with slight hands. It only fits on his pinky.

This gold ring has an inscription inside that reads "Audrie," and a date with the year 1959. John Paterson, who found the ring, hopes its owner can identify it as theirs by telling him the month and day. (John Paterson)

Paterson, a volunteer with the Calgary Metal Detecting Club, has had some past luck returning treasures. A couple years ago, he found and returned a sterling silver general service badge to the daughter of a veteran.

He matched the badge's serial number to files with Library and Archives Canada and Veterans Affairs, and then careful online sleuthing led him to the serviceman's surviving children.

"Most of the stuff you find, you can't do that with," Paterson said.

John Paterson made this map to show exactly where he found the ring in the school field. (John Paterson/Google Maps)

But they sometimes can tell a tale nonetheless.

"One year, I found a bunch of [air force] tunic buttons and a garter belt clasp all together on the side of a hill. There's a story there," Paterson said with a laugh. "Woman haven't worn garter belts for a long time — at least, nobody I know."

Anyone with tips about the ring or Audrie can contact Paterson at johnfromalberta@gmail.com

With files from Elizabeth Withey and the Calgary Eyeopener.