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Flashback: London to Kitchener ‘bed push,’ 1961

In 1961, a group of Laurier students decided to set an unofficial record, pushing a hospital bed from London to Kitchener. Michael J. Morris (BA '69) recounts the trek

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Sitting around in Willison Hall, the men’s residence, (at the time, it was also the seminary and library, with the dining hall attached) just before the first Winter Carnival in 1961, a group of us were looking for some activity we could undertake.

I don’t recall who said, “Let’s push a bed” but once it was said, the project started to become reality. In no time, we had a hospital bed with wheels — my memory fails me on who actually prepared the bed — but it happened quickly, and off we went in a cavalcade of cars, including my mother’s, which I had at university with me.

We started from London at about midnight determined to set the world bed-push “record,” travelling the 71.3-mile distance to Kitchener. We did it in eight hours and 23 minutes, and set an unofficial record. We pushed in teams of four in a relay; accompanying cars drove us to our next point. Remember, this was all happening on a two-lane highway.

There were no mishaps, although as we progressed, there were more Ontario Provincial Police cruisers appearing on the highway. We had not bothered to seek permission from anyone — including the university — to undertake the bed push.

As we approached Waterloo, we decided to end the bed push at Kitchener City Hall, rather than head into Waterloo (we were a bit concerned we all may be expelled for this antic).

It turned out the media had picked up on our push and reporters from newspapers, radio stations and CBC Television appeared. The university’s public relations people saw the publicity benefits and we were greeted by the university president, H. M. Axford, at Kitchener City Hall. Rather than expel us, he extended congratulations, and Winter Carnival was officially opened. There’s no way we were on the Carnival program when we set out.

The bed push ended up making it on CBC national news the next night, and my mother was out playing bridge when the news came on and the university’s name was mentioned. As mom looked at the television, her car appeared on screen, and moments later she saw me — but I wasn’t driving the car, I was pushing the bed. I had some explaining to do.

Story by Michael J. Morris (BA '69) (middle of photo, behind man in black hat).
Photo courtesy of Laurier Archives. 

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