University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine
Illustration by Frances Blake / Three in a box


Students love pranks -- and for some, every day is April Fool’s

Hang in There, Russ
Two important facts about this story: First, our metallurgy lecturer was short of stature. Second, the custodial staff – after cleaning the room’s sliding chalkboard – would leave it at its highest point, near the ceiling. At the beginning of each lecture, our short instructor had to make a gallant leap to seize hold of the chalkboard’s lower handle, and ride the board down to the floor. We began applauding this feat, which our instructor acknowledged with a gracious nod. One day, however, one of our classmates banged two wooden

Pranks for the memories…

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wedges under the board, immobilizing it. Our lecturer’s leap upward was not followed by a measured descent, but by an indecorous hanging and wriggling, followed by a resigned drop to the floor. No harsh words came, though, just good-humoured acceptance.

David G. Stone
BASc 1958
Caracas, Venezuela

Rude Awakenings
During my first year at Gilson House at St. Mike’s, a third-year engineering student grew tired of the noise made by his two frosh neighbours. A true engineer, he snuck into their room when they were at class, installed a small buzzer inside an unused phone jack and ran a wire back to his room. At all hours of the day and night, he used the buzzer to create a loud and mysterious noise, causing many a sleepless night for the two students. However, the frosh eventually discovered the source of the unwanted noise and immediately began plotting revenge. One day, when the engineer left the residence for a five-hour lab, the two recruited several other first-years to help fill his room from floor to ceiling with crumpled-up newspaper. When the engineer returned, he was, of course, furious with the mess – but probably more upset to have been trumped by the frosh next door.

Mike Driscoll
BA 1989 St. Mike’s
Buffalo, New York

Water Wars
In February 1961, a first-year student found himself in a water fight at Taylor House at University College. Not content to use just bags of water, he decided to turn on the firehose – but turned it off quickly when he saw how much water came flooding out. Little did he know that abruptly stopping fast-flowing water can cause a lot of damage. A weak joint in the pipes burst and the basement began filling with water. Thankfully, help was called and little harm was done. The dean was not pleased, however, and dressed down the hapless student with the admonition that he would have to bear the costs of repair. The story has a happy ending, though: knowing that it would be a struggle for the bursary student to come up with the money, the other residents of Taylor House chipped in and helped pay for the repairs. Forty-five years later, I still appreciate what those fellows did for me.

Bob Meldrum
BA 1964 UC

Ice, Ice Baby
As an undergraduate in the early 1980s, I and my fellow physics majors spent far too much time in the physics building. For entertainment, we occasional helped ourselves to chips of dry ice. We would keep the ice fragments in a paper bag and take them on the subway, where we’d pop them into our mouths. You can imagine how our fellow passengers reacted as we suddenly started breathing “smoke.” When you’re taking five physics and math courses, it doesn’t take much to push you over the edge.

Glenn Starkman
BSc 1984 UC
Cleveland, Ohio

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