Students Owned Belleville

Below is an excerpt from author Orland French’s book, PIONEERING: A History of Loyalist College (1992). While some references are no longer current, the publication provides a rich report on Loyalist’s history, which helps to contextualize its milestones. To read more from Mr. French’s book, please click here

A group of first-year College students became the ultimate landlords of Belleville in 1978. For a few moments, they owned the entire city. It was their prize trophy in a scavenger hunt on the College’s orientation day. Mayor Ben Corke agreed to sign over the entire City, then worth about $800 million, if they agreed to give it right back. They did.

Originally, the students had sought to own all of Canada, but Pierre Elliot Trudeau, then Prime Minister, refused to accept their telephone call. No one else in the Prime Minister’s office felt empowered to give away Canada, even for a moment.

Other scavenger hunt prizes over the years included: pine coffins, tombstones, the Moira Secondary School Trojan mascot, a live calf, a cement truck, a tanker truck and, believe it or not, an Ontario Provincial Police cruiser, driven by a student, with an OPP officer handcuffed in the back seat.