A poem that was written on a stairwell as an act of rebellion in the 1970s has been restored after accidentally being painted over.

He is one little frog, but he looms large in the minds of many students who have passed through the U of C Faculty of Arts over the years.

“The archives start in 1978, the poem, as near as we can imagine, was first inscribed in 1974 by a handful of students,” said Ian Kinney, who restored the poem in 2007. “The poem Leon the Frog, if that is its name, is about the journey of Leon the Frog as he ascends the stairs on his way to the light at the top of the stairs, and in many ways one could phrase this as the journey through life.”

The artwork was originally put in the stairwell of the Social Sciences building by a group of students without permission, but was never removed before now.

“They did it as an act of rebellion, I imagine they thought it would be gone in 20 minutes, and here four decades plus later, here we are and Leon lives again,” said Ginger Rodgers, Faculty of Arts.

When it was painted over in March by crews that mistook it for graffiti, the response was immediate.

"There was a huge outcry because it was quite beloved by people in the faculty and people campus-wide, so when we put out the call for volunteers, firstly we had to put a cap on it because so many people responded,” said  Rodgers.

The work is now slowly climbing the 13 flights of stairs to the top of the building, and there is a new mural to illustrate the story along the way.  

“Derek made the poem and I played with the words and then I designed a whole imaginary scene that is here and I decided the colours as well and three people are helping us to finish it,” said Avril Lopez, volunteer.

“It’s a bit of the history of the university,” said Christina Sutherland, volunteer. “Other students have passed through and left their mark.”

A new plaque has been installed at the bottom of the stairs where readers can begin the journey of Leon the Frog.