The underground city scavenger hunt

Underground City scavenger hunt participants

I have to admit, part of me totally expected last weekend’s underground city scavenger hunt to be a complete dud. It’s happened before with these organized-on-Facebook just-for-fun events. Facebook had 35 people attending, but those numbers are always hyperinflated due to the way Facebook works.

As it turns out, there were 39 participants, and that was way more than was needed to have fun.

For my article in today’s Gazette, I spoke to organizer Robin Friedman while boyfriend-and-co-organizer Jody McIntyre was registering people. I then followed a team through the two-hour hunt.

Photos, the list and more after the jump below.

I got to the designated meeting place a few minutes early to find a small crowd had already gathered. Slowly it ballooned to about 40 people, enough to get security to come by and ask what we were doing there. I figured at that point they’d put the kibosh on the whole event and demand that everyone leave. Surprisingly, they let it go on (though they kept a close eye on it and had the real cops monitor the situation as well).

That’s not to say security was the nicest in the world. They wouldn’t let me take pictures, saying I wasn’t allowed to take pictures in the mall. (Excuse me? Since when? And what about everyone else taking pictures in this mall?) The guy wouldn’t answer me when I asked him why not, so not wanting trouble I put my camera away until he was gone.

Oh, and it’s also apparently forbidden to sit on the floor at the Eaton Centre. Just FYI.

Kristin Donovan and Alex Dowgailenko check their lists

For the race itself, I quickly found Kristin Donovan and Alex Dowgailenko, who agreed to let me follow them around and write about their experience. They ended up about the middle of the pack, mainly because they stuck together for half of it, and the items Alex collected during the second half were disqualified because he arrived at the finish line two minutes late.

Judge Jody McIntyre and contestant Kristin Donovan

(Judge Jody McIntyre inspects Kristin’s self-serve sweets bag… if ya know what I mean)

The list

  • A spa treatment pamphlet
  • 4 cups from 4 different coffee/resto chains (must have establishment logos on them): 2 points plus 2 bonus if all are the same size and material
  • Passport application
  • Store credit card application
  • Pen with a business name on it (2 points)
  • Packaging with writing that’s not English, French, or Spanish
  • A full matchbook
  • Beer coaster (2 points)
  • Mall directory (any mall)
  • Self-serve sweets bag (plus 1 bonus if it has coke bottle gummy candy in it)
  • Train schedule
  • Pharmacy flyer
  • Movie stub (1 bonus if it’s an Imax movie)
  • Hour, Ici, Voir or Mirror magazine from January 31 or earlier (2 points)
  • SAQ wine/liquor guide
  • Cell phone coverage map
  • 3 different perfume samples
  • Banking services brochure from 3 different banks (2 points)
  • Something Easter related
  • Product guide from a beauty store
  • Something that smells like strawberry
  • Last night’s Super 7 lottery numbers
  • Bus schedule for a single-digit route (2 points)
  • A Popmedia postcard (2 points)
  • BONUS: A photo of the pink plastic forest (5 points)

Some were easy (like the mall directory), some were surprisingly hard (the beer coaster, since there aren’t many bars in the underground city, and the old weekly newspapers, since it had already been more than a week and there aren’t many distribution points underground), and some, like the cups and movie stub, involved dumpster-diving unless you wanted to pay for them. Some just became more difficult because this was a Saturday afternoon and businesses and banks were closed.

Keep in mind, these items had to be found in the underground city alone. Participants couldn’t go outside or take the metro.


(One half of) the winner: Team Batman. The jealousy from others was dripping.

At the end, I noticed a lot of negotiation going on. I hadn’t even considered the possibility that people would get doubles of hard-to-find objects and trade them to boost their collections. Nothing in the rules prohibited this.


I asked Robin if she was planning an encore, and she seemed game:

I am hoping for a “next time”, probably starting in a different location where security guards will be less of a problem. Not sure when yet, Ideally when it’s still winter-y out. I don’t want to do it too soon, otherwise i fear the novelty will wear off quickly. But if I wait too long it’s Manhunt season, or final exams, or too nice outdoors to look for stuff indoors.

A difficulty is finding a whole second list of stuff that can be found in the underground city.


4 thoughts on “The underground city scavenger hunt

  1. Robin F

    there is going to be some changes for “round 2”, which is still unsure of a date.
    The biggest challenge might actually be the list of items. I would really like to not duplicate items. we shall see…

    Thanks for the great article, I got a few “wow robin that’s so cool I can’t believe you did that” comments :)

  2. Pingback: Fagstein » Underground City Scavenger Hunt 2

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