Stealing & Hiding
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The Quest for the GreasePole

So the Queen’s Engineers came into possession of this lovely steel Pole (check out the History of the Pole to find out how). It was cool, rather large and seemed like a great thing to get their Frosh to climb and afterwards they left it to the Frosh to take care of it until the next year it was needed. There was just one problem: since our Greasepole Event was and remains the envy of the entire University, if not the world, there may be others interested in stealing it…

Who would do such a thing?

Everyone really…Commerce students, ArtSci students, Upper Year Engineers, U of T students all have an eye for the glory, even the staff of Golden Words stole it once. Over the years a wide range of groups have tried or successfully stolen the Pole. It seems when you are a Frosh Year, you can’t trust anyone, sometimes not even your own peers.

Yup, it is a big free-for-all, occasionally with more than one group trying to steal the Pole at the same time. The Engineers from the University of Toronto have always remained hopeful to retrieve what they see as their property. They seem irate that we have temporarily borrowed their goalpost (by "borrowed", I mean ripped out of solid concrete, carried off and put on a train and by "temporary", I mean until we steal another one). From several accounts it is still written in the U of T Frosh Primer that we have their Pole and they must get it back. Although they were reported to be wandering around firing off their cannon (fetch Frosh, fetch) and tying up EngSoc exec members, a couple years back, they have not, in truth, mounted a serious attempt in many years.

The biggest threat though, beyond a doubt, is the Upper Years, who know how the event runs, how to trick silly Frosh and who have a desire for the large ransom that can be requested for the return. And unlike Mel Gibson, the Frosh have to pay or risk not having a Pole for their Frosh to climb.

Obviously though, no harm has come to the Pole – we are still climbing it and it is still (or back) in one piece.

How have these groups, cool and lame, tried to steal our Pole?

Since the Pole was itself a product of a nefarious "borrowing", it seems natural that right from the start people have been trying to steal it. From some reports, Western stole one of the two goalposts we liberated within a week of our original theft way back in ’55. The Journal quotes the perpetrators as claiming, "in the driving rain and under the bloodshot eyes of 2000 celebrating Queen’s students," they "relieved Queen’s of the oversized piece of plumbing and put it on a train for London." They then expressed it, anonymously and collect, to the Globe & Mail, somewhat worse for wear after its week in Kingston.

Fast forwarding past years of little information to the last couple decades, there are numerous stories of great hunts, devious schemes and daring tactics. From airplanes to GPS tracking devices, from CBs to the CLUB, everything has been used to sequester the steel trophy.

It seems the Upper Years used to let the Frosh go ahead and hide it, and then used all manners of trickery and treachery to determine its location. In more recent years, the Upper Years have typically chased the Pole truck itself in hopes of preventing the Frosh from hiding the Pole at all or at least taking a tariff for the safe passage. As one can imaging, chasing the Frosh with their hard-won and climbed Pole has not always, let’s say, followed proper traffic procedures and is no longer an allowed method of capture. So once again the Upper Years must resort to more subtle means of relieving the Frosh of their Pole.

Tricks of the Trade

Now there are no sure-fire ways to capture the Pole, or to avoid capture, so if there are any pre-frosh reading this, sorry but you’re out of luck. In terms of actually chasing the Pole, caravans of vehicles have been used in the past, connected through two-way radios, CB’s and cell phones. Airplanes have been used to follow from the air and tracking devices have been planted to follow from a distance. In terms of planting, both GPS systems on the Ryder truck and "fake Frosh" during Orientation Week have been used. The Pole has even been stumbled upon in its hiding place before, completely randomly, so there is nothing sure in life. The only key now is that traffic is not fun and is not a viable field to be playing tag. I am sure there are wackier and more devious schemes that have and will be tried.

A well-traveled post

If stories are true, or at least moderately reliable, the Pole has done more traveling than most adults. Beyond racking up serious rental kilometers in Ryder trucks and doing some serious time in the woods, cottages and marinas of Ontario, the Pole has been reputed to have been sent to some pretty amazing locations. Personally I have heard it has been welded to the bottom of a boat before, has been in a airplane numerous times and has been shipped, in pieces, all over the world. Seeing Japan, Europe, and all across the North American continent if some reports are accurate, the Pole should be racking up some serious frequent flyer miles as well. Where will the Pole end up in the future? I wonder if we’ll ever see the Pole sent to space…?

A new Pole, just because…

It seems in 1983, the Engineers were restless, their Pole had become slightly bend and the Queen’s Golden Gaels were in Toronto for the Vanier Cup. Obviously the engineers of the day had no choice but to steal another goalpost from Varsity Stadium. Who could resist such a set of favourable circumstances? The short of the story is, we stole a new goalpost and shipped it back to Kingston. A piece of the bend and a plaque are mounted in Clark Hall Pub, but little else is known as to how this caper was pulled off.

Stories of capture and of loss

For individual accounts of which years had trouble when the Pole was in their possession, check out Ascents & Events and follow the icons.


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Legend of the Greasepole Website maintained by Rob Burke. Last updated October 2004.