Blogger Trades Paper Clip For A House

Kyle MacDonald, posing with a fake paper clip symbolizing what he says has been a succession of Internet trades starting with a paper clip, winding up with a house (right) in Kipling, Saskatchewan. AP/Brad Kearns/Canadian Press

Taking a paper clip and turning it into a house sounds like a cheesy magic trick or a phony instance of resourcefulness on the 1980s TV show "MacGyver."

Nonetheless, Kyle MacDonald, 26, says he has pulled it off.

One year ago, the blogger from Montreal set out to barter one red paper clip for something and that thing for something else, over and over again until he had a house.

On Wednesday, says MacDonald, the quest is to end as he originally envisioned – as he becomes the proud owner of a three-bedroom, 1,100-square-foot home provided by the town of Kipling, Saskatchewan. MacDonald and his girlfriend, Dominique Dupuis, expect to move there in early September.

"This is such a cool community project. It feels right," MacDonald said. "And now that I think about it, I can't believe that another small town didn't think of it. It will literally put them on the map."

What's in it for the town? The answer requires a quick MacDonald recap, featuring a menagerie of friendly folks, radio talk show hosts and aging celebrities, all bound together by the Internet.

It began when MacDonald, an aspiring writer, doer of odd jobs and apartment dweller, advertised in the barter section of the Craigslist Web site that he wanted something bigger or better for one red paper clip. He traded it for a fish-shaped pen, and posted on Craigslist again and again.

Roaming Canada and the United States, he exchanged the pen for a ceramic knob, and in turn: a camping stove, a generator, a beer keg and Budweiser sign, a snowmobile, a trip to the Canadian Rockies, a supply truck and a recording contract. Next, in April, he got himself really close, obtaining a year's rent in Phoenix.

His adventure became an Internet blockbuster. He appeared in TV interviews in the U.S., Canada and Japan. He also got himself on the radio, dozens of times, and one of those broadcasts - in Los Angeles - was heard by a man who turned out to be a pivotal figure.

That man is actor/director/producer Corbin Bernsen, best known for his starring roles in "L.A. Law," "Major League" and numerous TV movies.

Hip to the publicity-generating machine that is Kyle MacDonald, Bernsen contacted him to say he was writing and directing a movie and would offer a paid speaking role as an item available for trade.

  • Amy Clark

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