Edmonton

Alberta woman to be reunited with class ring lost 30 years ago

A Lethbridge man's metal detecting hobby, combined with a little assistance from the Internet, has resulted in an Alberta woman being reunited with a class ring she lost nearly 30 years ago.

An amateur metal detector tracks down the owner of a long-lost class ring

This 1987 grad ring from Parkland Composite High School in Edson has been buried in Lethbridge for nearly 30 years. (Supplied by Landen Harker)

Deanne Lueck is thrilled about an upcoming and unusual high school reunion. She's not set to reunite with any person, but rather with a possession she lost nearly 30 years ago. 

When Lueck graduated from Edson's Parkland Composite High School in 1987, she purchased a class ring to commemorate the event. She lost the ring a couple of years later while working as a groundskeeper at Lethbridge College, where she was pursuing her post-secondary education.

Now, with the help of an avid metal detector —and the Internet — Lueck will be reunited with her high school memento.

"Even a couple of years ago I was thinking about it and I thought, 'I wonder if I could order a new one to replace it,'" said Lueck, who now lives in Calgary. She even looked at the website for Jostens, a memorabilia manufacturer, for a replacement. 

"They didn't have the same type of ring or anything so I just forgot about it." 

Until this week, when 41-year-old Landen Harker entered the picture.

A Lethbridge man's metal detecting hobby led him to a buried class ring that he'll return to the woman who lost it nearly 30 years ago. 1:17

A metal detector, the ring and social media 

Harker has been metal detecting for almost three years.

"I'm an avid metal detector and so every chance I get, I get out and do some detecting," he told CBC News on Friday.

In the short time since he picked up a metal detector and his new hobby, Harker has turned up thousands of coins, a pile of jewellery and a range of historical items.

"I really don't know what I'm going to dig up next and that's what keeps me going."

Harker snaps a photo of his discovery, Lueck’s long lost grad ring. (Supplied by Landen Harker)

Harker said he has yet to sell any of his finds, preferring instead to share photos and videos of the discoveries on his Instagram page @landothedetector. 

Last month he got permission to search properties around Lethbridge College. That's when he found a high school class ring dated to 1987.

It was the second such ring he'd found and like the first, he was keen to reunite it with its owner.

"After I found the owner of the first ring, it felt really good; it was a ton of fun," Harker said. "That's better than having it myself."

Harker found the owner of the first ring in about a week, but ring Number Two would require more detective work.

"I did some research on the ring and found that it was most likely from a school up in Edson," he said.

There were initials on the ring but Harker couldn't find a name that matched any class list from the era. He decided to post photos and details of his discovery on Facebook with hopes a few friends might share it.

"The rest is history," said Harker. "It went crazy busy and ballooned overnight. In 24 hours I had messages from all over Canada."

The post was shared almost 14,000 times. People wanted to know how the search was going and to offer tips.

A puzzle is solved

Harker wasn't the only one whose phone was ringing off the hook. Back in Calgary, Lueck's friends and relatives had seen the post and were desperate to get a hold of her.

"My sister's going on about Facebook. 'It's all over Facebook that some ring has been found and it might be yours!'" she said. "I open up my emails and there's all these emails from people I've graduated high school with."

They'd sent Lueck a link to Harker's Facebook page.

Deanne Lueck is all smiles knowing she will soon be reunited with the lost ring. (Supplied by Deanne Lueck)

"I open it up and there's a picture of my grad ring," she said. "I was like, 'Oh my God, that's my high school ring!'"

The two connected last Tuesday and began making plans to get the ring back into the hands of its rightful owner. Lueck also took the opportunity to thank Harker.

"It was a little bit of a challenge or a puzzle to figure out but I'm so glad he did," she said. "It was really nice of him and I'm grateful for that."

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