If you have seen a man with a metal detector scouring the St. Albert parks and pathways, that man is probably Norm Peters.
The retired salesman’s passion for finding lost treasure began after his son lost his wedding band in the ocean shortly after getting married in Mexico. The ring was never found but he was inspired by the incident. He returned home and bought his first of what are now five metal detectors.
After putting ads in the newspaper and online offering to find lost items, he got a call from the president of The Ring Finders. The website is an international group made up of over 350 men and women who will help people retrieve their dropped and lost goods.
Peters now goes out weekly on quests to help retrieve lost items. His hobby pays off with reward money plus a $40 travel fee.
“I give them an alternative,” Peters said. “If you’ve got a good idea where you’ve lost it and the last place you were at, then most probably you can find it.”
Quite often, Peters says, people assume the treasure is gone forever and are already planning on repurchasing the misplaced items.
But Peters comes in and acts as an investigator, helping to piece together the puzzle of a lost ring, phone or keys. He says he asks plenty of questions and makes people retrace their steps and actions of the day.
“Time is of the essence,” Peters said. “The sooner you get out there the better chances there are.”
Sometimes Peters gets calls from spouses who have thrown their rings in a heated argument. He arrives once the dust settles and brings his tools to help reunite people with their once again prized possessions.
This happens so often that Peters now brings a lanyard with a handful of rings with him on calls. He gets the angry spouse to re-enact the scene and throw one of his rings. This helps him get an idea of the partner’s throwing arm and the area he should be searching for the tiny trinket.
And the 65-year-old will go to almost any length to help find the lost items. Sometimes it takes him only five minuets to track down the lost treasure. Other times he will spend days.
He once spent 16 hours scouring a man-made lake in Mill Woods to help find a ring for a young man. The swampy water was full of garbage and Peters pulled out dozens of cans and piles of trash during the search.
“I was in the water and it was 35 above one afternoon,” Peters said. “Stinking hot.”
The ring had slipped off the young man’s finger as he was riding his bike along the edge of the lake. He thought his ring, which had been gone for over a year, was gone forever.
Peters went back day after day until he was able to locate the hiding heirloom. He found it was wedged between some rocks and the cement retaining wall full of metal rebar.
Although the swampy pond is one of the strange places he has scoured, Peters has got calls to search the sides of highways, lakes, dog parks and even the remnants of a burnt house after the Fort McMurray wildfire. The six-year Ring Finder veteran doesn’t hit the road for every call, though. Sometimes it is too far to travel or too difficult to access the area.
But for the majority of calls Peters will give it his best shot. He has even spent time looking for a ring that was lost 50 years ago. He wasn’t able to locate the item.
“I’ll give them a second chance,” Peters said. “Don’t say it’s gone and it’s gone forever. There is a possibility that it’s still there.”
He will try until he has exhausted all of his options or until his arm gets tired.
If he can’t find the item, he says that at the least he can offer closure.
“If they’ve got a good idea where it is, I can give them closure,” Peters said. “I will give it my best shot so at least you know it’s not here.”