Re-living Legends
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Reflections, Memories and the Occasional Poetry

It seems funny that being an Engineering student can come to mean so much or that a single event like the Pole can instill such a sense of community and worth. Below are various thoughts, ideas and opinions on our experiences here. They are not really in any order, so feel free to browse and enjoy.

What is an engineer?

An engineer is a person who passes as an expert on the basis of being able to turn out, with prolific fortitude, an infinite series of incomprehensible formulae, calculated with micrometric precision, from vague assumptions, carried out with instruments of problematic accuracy, by a person of questionable mentality, for the avowed purpose of confusing the public at it own expense and annoying and confounding practical man.

– (Article taken from "The Institute of Radio Engineers", Ottawa section)

Why climb a steel goalpost? 

The Pole plays a vital role in the orientation of the first years, bringing them into the ranks of their upper year colleagues. This trial by fire, this paramount obstacle proves the spirit and worth of the newest in a long line of Engineering students. The intensity of the experience and the passion it inspires leaves a permanent mark in the psyche of all that take part. Hammering home the lesson of teamwork, the Greasepole embodies the strive for excellence that is the mantra for both Queen’s as a whole and Engineering specifically.

Believe it or not, the people who have the most fun are the climbers. Once the tam has been torn away, there is a feeling of exhilaration which can never be duplicated. The first year Engineers officially become a member of the Queen's Engineering family.

A Frosh's Rememberances:

Above all, one memory of the climb will remind me for of the bond and friendships I have formed with those in this profession I am entering. For all time I will recall every detail of when we became a Year, accepted by the Engineers.

Being Frosh, we were inherently dumb and could not do right. All week we were made well aware of this fact. Initially scared to challenge the authority of our FRECs, we slowly gained a voice on our own. Bit by bit we bonded with each other, through fun and through trials. By the end of Highland Games, we were standing up for ourselves, acting together in pursuit of our goals. It was not until later however, when I was a FREC, that I realized this transition from timid sheep to cohesive unit, a true Science Year, is the actual goal of Orientation.

Then came the Pole and I realized why this event was the last. No single person can climb the Pole. In its current form, no single year has ever climbed the Pole without help of the others. It has become an obstacle only surmountable by the whole and our turn in the Pit was no different. After an hour, the 4th years were sent in to help, then the 3rd years, then an hour and a half in, our FRECs joined the battle. The jeers, the taunts and the shouts had died down, replaced with calls for action and encouragement. The energy was awesome; suddenly it was not about which year was better or how lame they wanted us to feel. It was all about us getting the tam and becoming a year. Every engineer was there to help us. Every engineer wanted us to succeed. Finally, with the tam off, cries of Sci. ’99 were screamed…and the most amazing thing happened. No one yelled back at us, no "sucks" was inserted into the cadence; instead everyone joined in chanting with us. Together, all together we were the engineers.

-- McKay Savage, 1995


For more memories and reflections, follow the icons in Ascents and Events.



For those still interested in reading more (and I am impressed you’ve come this far), here is a smattering of engineering-related poems I wrote some time ago. They don’t have much to do with the Pole, but they follow some of the majors themes around my Engineering life: Orientation Week, science, and one on growing up. Enjoy,


On Being a FREC

The excitement builds as we are here,
to welcome in another year
of ignorant frosh, all young and keen,
coming here where they think the grass is green
and that the blue sky they have on moving in day,
will be the way the campus will stay;
not knowing quite what they are in store:
wet and dismal conditions, cold winds and much more,
unfamiliar faces and caf. food all year,
and they’ll actually have to work, that most dreaded fear,
but as they sink into the depths of despair,
Wednesday will come and us FRECs will be there.
We’ll give them tips and show them things,
that will help them earn those grand iron rings.
We’ll give them such an awesome week,
a long life-line of big purple geeks,
keeping them safe, their enjoyment our creed,
they’ll have so much fun as they follow our lead.
They are so na´ve, they are so squeaky clean,
with all our purple it would almost be mean,
to pelt them with thundersludge, flying through the air,
but they’ll be so muddy, they’ll hardly care;
racing the chariots they’ll have so proudly built,
as we jump and rage in our vests and our kilts.
Showing them how to mosh when White Zombie comes on,
and we were given ours, give them a year song.
When they climb the pole with us as their heroes,
they will join these great ranks as the Sci double zeros,
and if they can’t quite cut it, if they are just too dumb,
then there is always the option of Arts zero-one.
Long live chief FREC, and all of the rest,
for we are the ones that make Frosh Week the best!

Our Once Lives

Four sit around playing Euchre;
One plays quietly on a fiddle,
fingering the notes,
Drowned by raucous choruses,
the only words we know.
Laughter and friendship, ignorance and innocence;
Stress but a responsibility we have yet to learn,
Responsibility but a stress we have yet to discover.
Enjoying all the hobbies we will soon enough forget,
we will soon enough not have time for.
The simplicity of our lives escapes us,
Translucent shades we will look back on with longing.
Our games will gain dust in the closet of adulthood,
but we will always know they are there.
Our past awaits us in our future,
with us always…


The quest for knowledge, the forbidden fruit
unquenchable and irreversible
For knowledge is power and power is God
who are we to be searching for God
to become gods
Responsibility is part of the package
too bad we often forget
But what else can we do with the possibilities
of making the world a better place
It is a hunger, the need to know all
driving us forward with eyes usually bright
and eyes usually closed
It is a tool to disassemble the world
but Humpty-Dumpty chuckles smugly
we still sometimes have pieces left over
Disorder and Chaos, our hated enemies, plot together
with Randomness wreaking havoc on proven laws
This world is already a confining place
but our sights and dreams are boundless
This clockwork universe yet holds many secrets
it may be more uncertain than we can know
Everything can be explained
Can’t it?
Can it?
Or is it the search that is important
The search for the fountain of youth at El Dorado.

                                                                                            --- McKay Savage, Sci. '99

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