The Grease Pole, 1980s

grease poll, frosh week, Queen's engineering, pit, tradition, Kingston, Ontario
Queen’s University Archives, Queen’s Picture Collection, V28 In-44” and titled, “Engineer’s Grease Pole, 1980s

The Grease Pole has a long and storied history at Queen’s University. Originally a goal post liberated from the football field at the University of Toronto in 1955, the pole was set up for the first time in the late 1950s and covered in axle grease. Incoming frosh were tasked with capturing a Queen’s tam from the top of the pole, and the time from start to tam capture recorded. As the years progressed, extra challenges were added to the tradition, including a mud pit (filled with all manner of detritus, including offal and dung by some accounts), and with objects like tomatoes being thrown at the frosh. The grease pole event did eventually reach a limit when numerous frosh were hospitalized in 1983, some having suffered broken ribs and hypothermia. Nowadays, the affair has been tamed considerably, with the axle grease replaced with lanolin. The location of the pit is a closely guarded secret to prevent UofT Engineers from stealing the pole (as happened in 2000, and again last year – but it is back for this year!).

Queen's Archives

Queen's Archives regular column on Kingstonist showcases our city's rich history via assets sourced from their vast collection. Their contributions stimulate dialog regarding the places, people and events that have shaped Kingston. Learn more about Queen's Archives...

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