Jack Knox: Can you help solve Halloween ring mystery?

Jack Knox mugshot genericToday is the anniversary of the day the downcast child showed up on Dr. Joyce Clearihue’s Uplands doorstep, more than 40 years ago.

He — Clearihue thinks it was a he — had worn a parent’s ring while trick or treating the night before. At some point, it slipped off. When he came home bare-fingered, his parents were not impressed.

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So the boy retraced his steps the next day, hoping someone had found the ring. “He went back to as many houses as he could,” Clearihue says.

No luck.

Years went by. Then, one day as Clearihue was gardening, a ring emerged from the soil. The trick-or-treater’s story came rushing back. Alas, Clearihue had no clue to the child’s identity, so all she could do was hang on to the unburied treasure.

“I’ve sat on it ever since, thinking ‘How can I get it back?’ ” the 91-year-old says. “I think about it every Halloween, and I bet he or she does, too.”

So now, all these years later (she can’t recall precisely when this all happened, though she sold the Lansdowne Road house at the end of the 1970s) she figures it’s worth going public to end the mystery. Maybe you can help.

The ring bears the insignia of the Royal Canadian Air Force, showing a golden eagle flying over a sky-blue background, surrounded by the words per ardua ad astra, the motto used until the unification of the Canadian Armed Forces in 1968. (It means “through struggle to the stars.”)

Here’s the best clue: Inside the ring is inscribed “Lin love Kaye.” Do you know who Lin or Kaye might be? Please let me know.

Returning the ring to its rightful owner would certainly make Clearihue happy, which would be good, because she’s something else. The only child of prominent Victorians Irene and Joseph Clearihue — the former a pioneering female physician, the latter a Rhodes scholar, lawyer, judge, alderman and the first chancellor at the University of Victoria, where his name lives on in the Clearihue building — she followed in her high-achieving parents’ footsteps and became a doctor. (“I didn’t have much choice, did I?”)

Her medical career was as a dermatologist, but to some she was better known for her community work. She was president of the Y and served on the boards of the Greater Victoria Archives, UVic, the Craigdarroch Castle Society and the Friends of the Royal B.C. Museum, among others.

An avid outdoorswoman with a love of the natural world, she won acclaim in 2011 for purchasing 45 hectares of Western Forest Products land on Charters Creek, near Sooke, and donating it to the Capital Regional District as parkland — not that she gets to do much hiking these days. “I have a sore hip right now, which is slowing me down.”

Single almost all her life, Clearihue is proof that good things come to those who wait.

“I fell in love for the first time in my 80s,” she says.

It’s not the most convenient of relationships. Clearihue and her partner — he turned 94 last week — live not just in separate houses, but different countries. He’s an American who lives in a Mt. Angel, Oregon, retirement home. Residency and tax laws force them to commute, which isn’t a lot of fun when her hip plays up. Theirs is a long-distance closeness.

But that’s OK. She always carries a reminder of him with her.

“I wear his ring,” she says.

If you can help solve the mystery of the Halloween ring, please email jknox@timescolonist.com.

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