New Brunswick

Ring returned to family of 1965 graduate after 50 years

A graduation ring found in Killarney Lake about a month ago was returned to the family of its rightful owner on Monday, after being lost for more than 50 years.

Ring was found in Killarney Lake a month ago and was returned to the family on July 1

Rob Allaby returned the 1965 grad ring to Barbara's mother, Gwen Christie, on July 1. (Chico Christie/Facebook)

A graduation ring found in a Fredericton lake about a month ago was returned to its rightful owner on Monday after being lost for more than 50 years.

Rob Allaby, a local chiropractor, found the ring while metal detecting in Killarney Lake on June 8.

When he realized it was a 1965 Southampton Regional High School grad ring, he was determined to track down its owner, and within a month, he did just that.

"I like to finish what I started I guess," said Allaby.

Allaby found the ring while metal detecting in Killarney Lake in Fredericton, but he had the ring restored before he gave it back to the family. (Rob Allaby/Facebook and Chico Christie/Facebook)

"Just one thing led to another and what do you do with somebody else's class ring? You want to get it back to the family of the person that it belonged to, and I was driven by that."

Allaby narrowed his search down to about four women from the 1965 class from Southampton, a school that disappeared after the Mactaquac Dam was built. He eventually determined the ring belonged to Barbara Christie.

Barbara moved to Fredericton after graduating high school to study science at the University of New Brunswick and he said a family member told him that Barbara took swimming lessons at UNB. She even went swimming with her husband at Killarney Lake.

"Him and Barbara would often go to Killarney Lake and they'd swim back and forth across the lake and they loved to swim," Allaby said. "So that put her in the lake and really, that was the key to solving the mystery."

Allaby found the ring under almost two metres of water, sand and clay and says it was likely there for more than 50 years. (Cassidy Chisholm/CBC News)

Barbara Christie died of breast cancer at the age of 44 in 1991. 

Allaby decided to return the ring to her 91-year-old mother, Gwen Christie. 

He presented the ring to Christie on July 1, after having it cleaned, shined and put it in a ring box.

"To be honest, it's a little emotional giving it to the mom," Allaby said. "But I feel that was the right place and it couldn't go to a better spot, really."

The ring was returned to Gwen Christie, the mother of the ring's owner, nearly 30 years after her death. (Chico Christie/Facebook)

Gwen said she started to cry when Allaby returned the ring to her. She said it meant the world to have a keepsake of her daughter, her first-born child, nearly 30 years after her death.

"It's given me something to remember her by, because I had nothing but a picture of her," Gwen said. 

After Barbara's death, her husband looked after her belongings and Gwen said she didn't receive any of her daughter's items. 

Barbara Christie graduated from Southampton Regional High School in 1965 and likely lost her grad ring while swimming in Killarney Lake more than 50 years ago. (Chico Christie/Facebook)

Chico Christie, Barbara's brother, was surprised to hear his sister's ring was ever lost. 

"I think maybe she was a little bit alarmed about it and didn't tell anybody," he said. 

But when he heard that Allaby was looking for the owner, he was excited that his mother might finally have the keepsake. 

Anyone lost their 1965 gold grad ring? This man found one at the bottom of Killarney Lake and is determined to find the owner. 0:40

"Of course, I thought, 'Well, if that comes down to the final one and Rob is absolutely sure it's hers, my mom needs to have it,'" Chico said.

"It was a wonderful feeling, and I guess that's what drove us to do all this work," he said.

"You know, just to get it to where it was supposed to be."

About the Author

Cassidy Chisholm is a reporter at CBC New Brunswick. Have a story tip? Email her at cassidy.chisholm@cbc.ca.

With files from Viola Pruss

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