KLONDIKE BIG INCH LAND COMPANY




"One day I was moving stuff and ran across my pebble grained faux-leather high school graduation certificate holder. Inside was my diploma along with an official looking 'deed' for one whole square inch of land in Canada's Yukon Territory from the Klondike Big Inch Land Company dated January 4, 1955, a really good copy of Uncle Scrooge, Issue #14, June 1956, with Scrooge, his deed and dealings with one square inch of land in a story called Faulty Fortune, AND the treasure map I drew for my time capsule."

THE WANDERLING: Footnote [1], below.


PRESENTED BY
THE WANDERLING
VIA THE WORKS OF BERT RUSH


In October 1954 Quaker Oats marketing execs began looking for a gimmick to promote their "Puffed Rice" and "Puffed Wheat" cereal products. At the time, Quaker Oats sponsored a radio show for the younger set, "Sergeant Preston of the Yukon," that was scheduled to move to television in the fall of 1955. So they wanted an ad campaign to feature Sergeant Preston and hype the new TV series.

Their idea man was Bruce Baker, a Chicago advertising exec, who—one sleepless night--hit on the idea of giving away square-inch lots of land in "Sergeant Preston's Yukon," by putting deeds in specially-marked boxes of Quaker Oats cereals.

The idea was not bad. At the time, cereal makers marketed to kids by giving away trading cards, whistles and plastic toys--some items costing as much as 5 cents per unit. Baker thought he could give away deeds for much less.

But the cereal maker's Chicago headquarters (and especially their attorneys) hated the idea. They pointed out that, even in the hinterlands of western Canada, the only way to create legal lots would be to prepare a survey map, which (if it included separate lot numbers) would probably be larger than the land itself. Worse, the deeds would have to be registered in the local Torrens system--requiring payment of prohibitive fees.

Undaunted, Baker and two other men (one of them a Quaker Oats ad executive) chartered a plane and flew to the Yukon.

Landing in Whitehorse, the three Americans introduced themselves to local attorney George Van Roggen. Van Roggen listened, and found himself "entertained" by the ad men's antics. But for Van Roggen, the question was whether, in Canada, one could give away deeds that wouldn't or couldn't be individually registered in the land records system. He gave the opinion that "you could, that they'd be legal."

Buoyed by this advice, Baker quickly got approval from Quaker Oats to go ahead. In the meantime, Van Roggen found 19.11 acres of government land, located seven miles up the Yukon River from Dawson, that could be purchased for $1,000.

On October 7, the three Americans were driven to Dawson, where they met up with Constable Paul LeCocq--a real, live Royal Canadian Mountie, who had a dog named "Yukon King" (as did the fictional Sergeant Preston). Matter of fact, fan mail received locally for "Sergeant Preston" was delivered to LeCocq.

Constable LeCocq took the three Americans, in their Brooks Brothers suits, in an open skiff up the Yukon River to the 19 acre parcel. One of the Americans, John Baker (who was a lawyer, and the brother of ad man Bruce Baker) recalled that the weather was frigid, "several degrees below zero," and the river was "a forbidding sight with ice cakes zooming by." Here's how John described the 19 acres in his journal: "Fairly level with a beach of stones about 100 feet wide; quite thick with jackpine and spruce, poplar and birch."

When the party returned to Dawson they were tired, cold and wet. Bruce Baker's feet were badly frostbitten. Quaker Oats bought the land.

Later, John Baker and George Van Roggen drew up the deed language. The Grantor would be a specially-formed corporation to be called "Klondike Big Inch Land Co., Inc." The Grantee would be...(fill in your name). The legal description would refer to a "Tract Number," more particularly described in "that certain subdivision plan...deposited in the registered office of the Grantor in the Yukon Territory." The deeds excluded mineral rights (which had been reserved in the original grant from the Crown), and provided for a perpetual easement over each square-inch lot for the benefit of surrounding lot owners.

So there was no survey map. Instead, the deeds were numbered consecutively following a master plan that made its "point of beginning" the northwest corner of the 19 acres. If you wanted to find a certain lot number, theoretically you would start at the northwest corner, go X number of inches east, then go X number of inches south, and there it would be. Theoretically.

Twenty-one million deeds were printed, and the ad campaign was launched on the Sergeant Preston radio show on January 27, 1955. Ads ("You'll actually own one square inch of Yukon land in the famous gold country!") appeared in 93 newspapers.

The campaign was a sensational success. The specially-marked ("Get Free Gold Rush Land Today!") boxes of Quaker Oats cereal fairly flew off of grocers' shelves. Before long, they were all gone. Lots of kids, myself included, were "too late."[1]

Meanwhile, letters poured in to Quaker Oats offices. New landowners wanted to know where their land was located, how much it was worth, and "is there gold there?" One kid sent in four toothpicks and some string, requesting his inch be fenced.

In Buffalo, NY, newspapers carried a story about a man being tried for murdering his wife with an ice pick. On the third day of trial, the defense attorney made a motion to be removed from the case. Turned out the attorney had been promised to be paid with "land in the Yukon," only to learn this "land" consisted of his client's collection of 1,000 "Big Inch" deeds.

Unfortunately, no one paid taxes on the 19 acres, and in 1965 it was sold by the Canadian government for an arrearage of $37.20. According to an August 2000 article in the Whitehorse Star newspaper, "a Quaker Oats spokesman in Chicago claims the company never received a tax bill." Maybe "Yukon King" ate it.

To this day, inquiries still come to Quaker Oats (now a division of Pepsico), and the Canadian government, about "Big Inch" deeds. According to Steven Horn, Chief Legislative Counsel for the Department of Justice in the Yukon, inquiries typically come from lawyers representing estates with assets including one or more of the deeds, and they always get the same answer: The deeds are and always were "unregisterable."

A cruel hoax? Consumer fraud? Consider this, a "Big Inch" deed now fetches up to $40 on the collectible market, and they are suitable for framing.

Meanwhile, the "Klondike Big Inch Land Co." was quietly dissolved in 1966. [2]



HOW SGT. PRESTON BECAME A MOUNTIE

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CLICK
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ENLIGHTENMENT

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THE WANDERLING

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NOTE: The above main text contents regarding The Klondike Big Inch Land Company has been thoroughly researched and sourced through the dedicated work and graceful services of long time aficionado of similar and like radio and box top offers Bert Rush, since updated with newer and additional material from an original email dated Monday, June 10, 2002.


As to the subject of donations, for those of you who may be interested in doing so as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.


















------Footnote [1]




Much to the chagrin and possibly great childhood misfortune, Bert Bush, the author of the above main section, like lots of kids, himself included as he solemnly says, were "too late" in getting a deed at the time they were being distributed. As for myself, for some reason I must have been in the right place at the right time. Not only did I get one of the deeds myself by sending in a box-top, with a very low number deed at that, I still have the very same original deed in my possession.(see)

For me being right at the starting gate to obtain a deed may have been boosted by fate as much as anything else. My father, who was born and raised in a small town in the southeastern corner of the Quaker state of Pennsylvania --- up to age 16 when he decided to leave home and "ride the rails," --- remembered well that as a kid the Quaker Oats company came through town and down the main street with a flat bed truck or trailer shooting puffed rice or puffed wheat out of a cannon. I always liked that and because of same it pushed Quaker puffed products to the top of the list for me in my early days for some reason. To this day I wish I could have seen it.

Still waxing a little nostalgic, a lot of you who have read my works may remember that as a kid I was big on box top and the like offers, especially so the radio premium offer from Ovaltine called Captain Midnight Code-O-Graphs, and more specifically so the 1942-1945 Photo-Matic version, as pictured above, that figured so prominently throughout my childhood into adulthood. In so saying, it would not be unusual for me to have gotten the deed, but, considering how tumultuous my early life always seemed to be, to still have it is another thing.

Many of you may also be familiar with some of my travels and adventures as a young boy with my Uncle as well. One of those adventures ended up circulating around my deed from The Big Inch Land Company.

It all started with me being less than 10 years old and the two of us on our way to see the gravesite Billy the Kid in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. It ended with us walking the fresh debris field within days, possibly hours, of the crash-down of an alleged disc-shaped airborne object of an unknown nature and unknown origin that disintegrated all over a remote section of desert ranchland near Roswell in 1947. However, I was just a kid like all kids, except that I had an extraordinary uncle that took me with him doing all kinds of things and going all kinds of places that a typical kid wouldn't usually be confronted with. I stretched from wild-eyed excitement about any and everything to full-on out-and-out boredom. To wit, below is something I wrote that shows up at the source so cited:


"I was raised on Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers and experienced the giant UFO Over Los Angeles, so rocketships or objects from outer space or other planets just didn't seem all that unusual to me. I spent a good part of my time out in the cab of the truck reading comic books, sitting around in waiting rooms or narrow halls of places that looked like doctors offices or hospitals. Even more time was spent hanging out in dirty little rooms stuck back in the corners of hot, dusty hanger type buildings stacked to the ceiling with falling over old newspapers, out of date World War II Mil-Spec operator handbooks and training manuals, as well as grungy old coffee cups all over the place with spoons and dead bugs stuck in the bottom of thin layer of some sort of a dried-up brown, tar-like residue --- presumably it is guessed, being at onetime, coffee." (source)


Philosophically speaking I suppose sitting and watching windmills off in the distance that I observed at the debris field for days is far more quixotic and better than exploring the inside of grungy old coffee cups. However, as you can see, besides adventures, there was lots of downtime and being away from home without other kids or siblings to play or talk with. So, like other kids in a similar or like situation I did lots of things to entertain myself and occupy my mind. During the night I might learn about the stars and during the day I might be found digging up Teratorn fossils. Other times, during down time might fine me gathering up small pebbles or rocks and making little campfire rings with tiny little "Y" forked sticks with another stick across it as though it could hold a tiny little hanging pot. I would even put little logs in the rock ring. At the hay shelter on the hill above and behind the debris field I even made and buried a "time capsule" thinking I would come back one day in the future and dig it up.

Traveling in the desert I carried a World War II pistol belt with a G.I. canteen always filled with water, and along with the canteen, a pouch hooked to the pistol belt. I had a couple of those "Carlisle" first aid pouches and I used to carry all kinds of stuff in them. Stainless steel pocket knife with a fold-out fork and spoon. Compass. Waterproof matches. When I was at the debris field, which was long before there was anything like handheld electronic devices, I had a manually operated handheld toy red-and-black plastic-bakelite film strip viewer with me. One time my uncle told me if the Earth were ever to blow up and form an asteroid belt around the sun like the one between Mars and Jupiter some far-in-the-future space explorer would still be able to find pieces of plastic imbedded in the rock-chunks --- because plastic junk lasts forever. Well, I didn't want to part with my pocketknife, compass or matches, so for my time capsule I buried the plastic film viewer. With that I took a gas station paper towel I had in my back pocket and using my most favored gift from my Stepmother, a Reynolds Rocket ballpoint pen that could write underwater or out in space --- which I wish I still had --- and made a treasure map.




Years passed and I forgot all about it. One day I was moving stuff and ran across my pebble grained faux-leather high school graduation certificate holder. Inside was my diploma along with an official looking "deed" for one whole square inch of land in Canada's Yukon Territory from the Klondike Big Inch Land Company dated January 4, 1955, a really good copy of Uncle Scrooge, Issue #14, June 1956, with Scrooge, his deed and dealings with one square inch of land in a story called Faulty Fortune, AND the treasure map I drew for my time capsule.


The next time I went to see my uncle in Santa Fe I took the map along. When I showed it to him and expressed the possibility of the two of us going to look for it he put his hand out in an open-palm "halt" fashion and told me to wait. A few minutes later he was opening a cardboard box he had pulled from the attic and started rummaging around in it. He pulled out a bag and dumped the contents on the table. There in front of me was what was left of a broken to pieces red-and-black plastic film strip viewer. My uncle told me right after meeting with Frank Edwards, about ten years or so after we had been to the debris field, he went back. He walked the old debris field as well as the hill we had observed from. He also tried to find the hay shelter and water trough, but to no avail. Walking the area where he thought it should be he spotted pieces of red plastic in the dirt. Looking more carefully he was eventually able to find most of the viewer, including parts of the film strip. Apparently what happened, and it was just speculation on my uncle's part for the lack or any other explanation, it looked like a disc harrow may have been pulled through the area and one of the discs must have ran right over where I had buried the viewer, scattering it into pieces along a straight line over several feet.

My idea to make a time capsule did not spring from whole cloth, by the way. Somehow I got the idea from my uncle, mimicking his actions. That is, somewhere near or around where we were, my uncle made his own time capsule, burying something OR some-things, pieces and parts he found out out on the debris field. I have reason to guess that was the case because there would be no need to bury anything he already had with him that would be worth leaving then come back for. Apparently that is just what he did, come back for whatever he buried. Other than the fact that he showed me he had pieces of my film viewer that he came across in the hills up and beyond the debris field years after the crash I would never have known he went back. According to the suggestion proffered in The Roswell Ray Gun all indications are that the something buried recovered from the Roswell debris field in 1947 turned out to be a device similar to a hand-held pistol, albeit said by some from an advanced alien culture. There are also strong rumors to the effect that an 'extraterrestrial' breathing apparatus of some type may have been found and subjected to reverse engineering as well. See:


AREA 51, GROOM LAKE, ROSWELL


THE CODE MAKER, THE ZEN MAKER
SHANGRI-LA, SHAMBHALA, GYANGANJ, BUDDHISM AND ZEN


















------Footnote [2]


As far as the Klondike Big Inch Land Company itself is concerned, the property was seized January 22, 1965 and the company quietly dissolved in 1966. The actual 19.11-acre plot of land is, of course, still there --- previously Group 2 Lot 243, now known as Group 1052, (according the Yukon's Register of Land Titles) --- located on the west bank of the Yukon River about three miles upstream from Dawson with 640 feet of riverfront lineage (7680 inches) by 1301 feet deep (15,612 inches). Conversion charts calculate that 19.11 acres equal 119,870,150.4 square inches, of which for only 21 million deeds were printed --- leaving in the process a whole lot of "inches" left over and a lot of acres falling into the unaccounted for category. For the record, the same conversion chart shows that 21,000,000 square inches (one square inch for each deed printed) equals only 3.34787267 acres out of the original 19.11 acre plot.

According to land office records a man by the name of Malcolm McLaren first homesteaded the same general plot of land back in 1911. Rumors have abounded that the land became a part of an area adjacent to the former Top of the World Golf Course when the golf course was first developed. More concretely, in an article published in the August 15, 2007 issue of the Klondike Sun titled "Cereal Thriller Indeed" by Megan Ruiter, Ruiter writes:


"The actual land that was purchased is now an untended portion of Dawson’s very own Top of The World golf course, a prized chunk of Dawson real estate."


Bert Rush describes in the main text above how one would go about finding their "own" square inch of land out of the 21 million deeds distributed. Rush writes, if you may recall, and I quote:


"So there was no survey map. Instead, the deeds were numbered consecutively following a master plan that made its 'point of beginning' the northwest corner of the 19 acres. If you wanted to find a certain lot number, theoretically you would start at the northwest corner, go X number of inches east, then go X number of inches south, and there it would be. Theoretically."


Getting somewhat more specific, in 1975 an article regarding the Klondike Big Inch Land Company, written by one Jack McIver, appeared in CANADIAN MAGAZINE. In the article, he gives his explanation what a person would have to do to go about locating a definitative or given square inch, McIver wrote:


"(T)he deeds were numbered consecutively, according to a master plan. If you wanted to find, say, lot number 11,935,000 you simply had to start in the northwest corner of the land, travel east 7,000 inches, go south 1,705 inches, and there you’d be, standing on your inch."


About the same time Ruiter wrote her article for the Klondike Sun I was in the Yukon. With the information from McIver's article and my numbered deed in hand I visited the golf course and was directed to the untended portion she wrote about. With the land "untended," that is, reverted back to nature --- if it ever wasn't --- and nobody knowing for sure where the actual northwest corner the specific plot started --- if they ever did --- I knew somewhere out there would have been my square inch if my deed would have been valid, but that was about it.


FYI: What was once known as the Top of the World Golf Course is now operated under the auspices of a not-for-profit organization through the city of Dawson called the Dawson City Golf Course. For photos, layout, maps, etc., please click the following graphic:



CROSSING THE YUKON RIVER TO THE GOLF COURSE SIDE FROM DAWSON CITY























UNCLE SCROOGE FINDS A DEED TO ONE SQUARE INCH OF LAND IN A BOX OF CEREAL AND
HE AND DONALD AND HIS THREE NEPHEWS, HUEY, DEWEY, AND LOUIE GO IN SEARCH OF IT


(for larger size graphic click and click again, for the complete story click the link directly below)

UNCLE SCROOGE: FAULTY FORTUNE


UNCLE SCROOGE: LOST SHIP IN THE DESERT

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Below is a copy of the initial email from Bert Rush that created the listserv that inturn the Monday, June 10, 2002 email regarding the Klondike Big Inch Land Company appeared. As far as I have been able to determine the listserv so initiated by Bert Rush is no longer active nor is Rush's original Big Inch article available through conventional sources on the internet. His email and website is, however, still active (see link below).


Posting for

Wednesday, May 27, 1998

by: Bert Rush

brush@firstam.com

WELCOME TO LANDSAKES!

This is our new e-mail listserv connecting Home Office with First American's regional counsel and training coordinators, systemwide.

We'll be posting news and information here, and we invite questions, comments and/or argument--which we may also post. Replies will be moderated for posting to avoid redundancy and such.

A major purpose of LandSakes will be to provide subscribers with copies of articles or documents of interest, in an Adobe electronic portable document format (.pdf), which you can download and print for use in training, marketing, whatever. You'll need an Adobe Acrobat reader. Most postings and PDF copies will be archived, so you can retrieve them from our server even after they're deleted from your e-mail storage.

If you know of someone who you think should be on the subscriber list, or if you want to un-subscribe, please email me directly.

And please be thinking of items you might like to contribute to LandSakes.


BERT RUSH





















GET FREE GOLD RUSH LAND TODAY!

In 1955, the Ohio Department of Commerce, Division of Securities, ruled that the Quaker Company could not take in trade a cereal box-top for one square inch of the Yukon through their advertised promotional program until it received a state license for the sale of foreign land.

After the ruling the Quaker Company simply eliminated the box-top requirement and gave away the deeds by placing one in every box of breakfast cereal "at no additional cost" until the promotion ended a few months later. Below is a thumbnail copy of the advertisement that appeared in 93 newspapers around the country announcing the start of the promotion. By clicking the image a larger PDF format image comes up which, so you can read the text better, is easily expandable to a larger size by clicking the plus sign that appears in the bar:



(click image)