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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Little Lots of Land

For just under £30, you can own one square foot of land in the Scottish Highlands and become a Laird, Lord, or Lady.

It's true that these titles have been dismissed as 'meaningless' by the Court of Lord Lyon, the office which deals with heraldic matters and coats-of-arms in Scotland. And it was decided eight years ago that the sales of such miniature plots would not be recorded in the national register of Scotland. But for many of the buyers, it is quite sufficient that 'laird' means 'landowner' in Scots, and they receive a certificate which purports to prove their ownership of a plot of land on a Highland estate. [Link]
These are generous parcels compared to those given away in the Quaker Harvest Oats "Klondike Big Inch" advertising campaign in the 1950s. Deeds for one-square-inch plots of land in the Yukon were given away in cereal boxes. Filmmaker David McDonald was one of the lucky recipients, and made a documentary about his quest to find other small landowners, and to claim his own tiny tract.
Many had high hopes for their tiny plots of land. One Michigan man wanted to establish the world's smallest national park while a group of friends wanted to pool their plots and declare an independent republic.

Eventually, McDonald headed north to locate his land.

He discovered that the company Quaker Oats set up to manage the land never paid property taxes, so the Yukon government reclaimed it all.

"They never told us that perhaps we should have registered the deed." [Link]

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