Red Ensign


It was raining Monday afternoon but I decided to see what I could find around walking the streets of the Plateau. It ended up being a fairly idyllic trip, largely due to my love for the rainy walk but also because I very casually came across some decent stuff.


Inside the bin above was a shopping bag that looked to contain a few wires for various consumer products. At the bottom of the bag were some foreign coins and a couple pieces of junk sterling silver. I gave the 2 Euro piece to my friend moving to Spain and am saving the 2 Sacagawea US dollars for an eventual trip to the states. I also saved a wireless router and a foot pedal made for transcription.

I don’t usually get my hands too dirty but this bag was a little nasty. You can see the cigarette butt and also some random feathers (wet from the rain) and a used Q-tip. Nothing that won’t wash off! Regardless, I made sure to wash the coins and such in soapy water. It’s a good reminder that garbage picking isn’t always glamorous and that a strong stomach is a required tool.



I came across more coins later on. The bag was much cleaner this time around. These ones were a little more interesting, including a 1975 Southern Alberta Canada Games token, a 1945 nickel, a 1943 silver dime, and another Sacagawea dollar. The silver goes into the scrap jar while the rest of the foreign coins go into my recently emptied bank (more on that later).

Also inside the bag were some nice looking DVDs, a surge protector and three old magazines, one of which is a Playboy from 1970. In some nearby bags I found two unopened packages of Ikeas clips.


I took another garbage walk Tuesday evening, this time with a couple of friends. These bags looked to contain the partial remains of an office of some kind.


I thought I struck it rich when I found two copies of Adobe CS5.5 – they sell on Ebay for a few hundred a pop. Alas, they are only the upgrade version (from 5 to 5.5) so they don’t hold much value. If anyone happens to want a minor upgrade to their CS5 let me know.

There were some useful things otherwise, including 5 power cords, tape, and a bunch of unused regular and bubble envelopes (very useful for eBay selling!).


Not far away was this pile of stuff. The box in the back was full of clothes and had an “à donner” (to give) written on it. We scavenged lots of good stuff: nice shoes and boots (friends have already claimed the two pairs on the right); a collection of unopened teas, hot chocolate, and canned food; and some great clothes, including what is now one of my favourite shirts.


A house on my Wednesday trip to Mount Royal provided my favourite finds, however. It’s the same place that gave me the WWII Air Force cap a few weeks back so it wasn’t entirely unexpected.


Sitting inside those garbage cans were four old flags, three of which I didn’t really recognize. I did some research.


Canada’s current flag has only existed since 1965. Before that were three different editions of a “Red Ensign” that featured the Union Jack at top left and a shield or coat of arms on the right. This is the second of those three – it served as Canada’s national flag from 1921-1957. It’s notable characteristics are the weird woman-harp (replaced by a normal harp for the 1958-1965 version) and the green maple leaves (later changed to red). You can read more about it and see the evolution here.

There were two of these old Canadian flags. One is in great condition and the other is good but with a few minor tears. I think they’re really cool and they’ve already taught me a little history. They’re worth a bit of cash too – I expect to get between 100-150 for the great one and 50-75 for the good.

The other mysterious flag turned out to be an Australian Red Ensign. The one I recognized was Swiss, though at first I thought it was a Red Cross flag. The Canadian and Australian flags were made by Scyco of Canada while the Swiss was made by Heimgartner and Co. They’re both vintage and I expect them to garner some decent money as well.

That’s all for now! The car should be available next week so I’ll be able to explore a bit further again. Still, I’ve enjoyed the return to walking and biking for trash and plan on doing it more going forward. I relied on the car a bit too much for a while there.

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Your old cell phone


There’s been a bit of a summer lull so I’ve focused less on hunting and more on putting things up on eBay. Over the last few days I’ve listed 18 items, bringing my total to a record 89. A few months ago I had only 25-35 listings. This is evidence of improved organizational skills but also a commitment to eBay as an essential part of my business plan. While eBay sales are slow in the summer I anticipate that this strategy will pay dividends in the long haul, especially around holiday season. I hope to crack 100 total listings by next weekend. It’s funny to think that some of this stuff has just been sitting around in my room, occasionally for years.

This weeks most notable finds came Wednesday morning in Mount Royal. I left earlier than usual to beat a thunderstorm that was set to move in around 10am. I still got rained on but it was fairly pleasant and I got home in time to beat the worst of it.


The pile above looked to belong to a young family preparing for a move. I found a few jewellery pieces in one of the bags, the nicest of which looks to be a real pearl necklace on a sterling chain. The Monet-brand gold necklace is also good and should eventually make its way to my Etsy store (which I hope to get up and running again before October). Outside of the jewellery I found a brand new, wrapped in plastic canvas and a pair of boxing gloves. The gloves are in excellent, barely used condition and sell for around 75$ new. I should be able to get 25$ for them on Ebay.


Another house not far away gave off a similar feel. Inside one bag was a collection of wires and consumer electronics.


One of the items was a mostly functional Blackberry Bold. The trackball doesn’t work to go down which is a minor but very annoying issue. I grouped this phone with a few other “for parts, repair” Blackberrys and created an Ebay lot. A Blackberry in this condition usually sells for between 15-20$.

I can get a bit obsessive trying to recycle cell phones. They contain a lot of valuable reusable metals, many of which are quite toxic when thrown to the landfill. In particular, Coltan is a rare metal used in cell phone production found mostly in the jungles in Africa. Its extraction destroys a lot of pristine animal habitats so it’s important to reuse what we’ve already mined. I’d guess that I’ve recycled or sold around 25 cell phones since I started doing this full-time last year.

This website is a good resource for finding a place to recycle your old broken phone – it gave me 10 locations within only two kilometers! I know Future Shop also acts as a drop off location for all kinds of different electronics.

Also inside the bag: a working Skycaddie SG5, a golf GPS worth around 30$; two battery chargers full of functioning AA batteries; a bag full of decent golf balls; and a few sports baubles.


There wasn’t much else the rest of the week, though I did find a 20$ bill while on a run through the Plateau on Friday. No one was around so finders keepers!

Last weeks sales (July 21 – July 27)
-Vintage Old Spice Cologne: on Ebay for 37$ (50 with free shipping). I’ve had this for around a year, though I only listed it maybe a month or so ago. I’m glad to see it go!
-Joan Sutherland signed program: on Ebay for 17$. Found back in March in Mount Royal.
-Euro trade in: 5$. A friend of mine is moving to Spain so I decided to give him all the random Euro coins I’ve picked up. I didn’t ask for anything but he gave me 5$.
-20$ bill. I count this as an incidental benefit of working patrolling the streets.
Total: 79$, 2149$ since May 18. A poor total but better than nothing. Hopefully the new listings will lead to more sales.

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I haven’t found much recently. I don’t currently have use of the car so I’ve been stuck with nearby but less consistently productive routes such as Villeray, Park Ex, the Plateau, and Rosemont. These neighbourhoods certainly have their treasures but finding them is more needle in a haystack-y than in richer areas with larger houses. It doesn’t help that each of these places (other than some parts of Rosemont) have two trash pickup days a week, meaning I have to work twice as hard to see the same amount of garbage.

It feels a bit funny to say this because in the earlier days of this blog I went to these places religiously. I’ve evolved a bit since then I suppose, though I might just be less patient because of the availability of a car.

I can’t blame my dry week totally on the arrondissements, however: I also didn’t do much to help myself. I slept in before my Mount Royal route, losing the opportunity to check out a house that I really didn’t want to miss. I’m still kicking myself and fantasizing about what could have been saved. I’ll be there tomorrow, hopefully everyone waited a week before throwing out the good stuff!

This week has been a little better so far. I took a casual garbage walk with a friend in the Plateau and came across this great wood trunk. I inspected it and it looked clean – evidence in nearby trash showed that it was left behind from a move. We walked it back to her house around six blocks away, taking many stops to break and enjoy the weather. It’s a hand carved piece that I would guess was made in China in the 1970s. It needs a good dusting but I imagine it could be sold for at least 100$ on Craigslist, more if given extensive TLC.


Today I started a bit late and went to Park Ex. It’s a low-income neighbourhood but once in a blue moon I’ll find some really great stuff. There wasn’t a lot to see but I did enjoy finding this big old hand-painted landscape signed by someone by the last name of Santerre. I doubt it’s worth a lot but I’m a sucker for original art. If anyone knows where this place is let me know, it could increase the value but I’m also just curious. My guess is that it’s from somewhere in the Eastern Townships.

Outside of this I found a nearly complete Mastercraft drill bit set and two shopping bags full of funky bangles.


I found these antlers in Park Ex around a month ago. The woman throwing them out seemed happy to be rid of them – I’d guess they belonged to her husband! The antlers are really huge, I can’t imagine them being from a deer but I’m far from an expert. I have some research to do but I imagine they’re worth a bit as a decoration or an art material.

Last two weeks sales (July 7 – July 20)
-Gold and silver scrap: 550$. I wrote about this transaction a few posts ago.
-Vintage “Eau de Joy” perfume: on Ebay for 40$. I found this at a pre-estate sale purge in CDN. It’s the second scent I’ve sold on Ebay.
-Yard sales: 160$. It was great to hit the streets once again and I hope to do it again very soon.
-Old food pamphlets: 5$.
Total: 755$, 2070$ since May 18. This is an excellent total. However, without the scrap sale (which happens perhaps 2 or 3 times a year) the numbers would look much worse. Ebay sales have been slow despite my increased focus on listing. However, this is apparently normal in the summer months and just means I’ll make a killing around Christmas.

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That blog


The car has been unavailable so this week I’ve been doing my trash runs by bike. It’s been a nice change of pace, biking is much more meditative and often more efficient than driving. I’ve neglected the bike too often this summer and hope to find a happy medium between both means of transportation going forward.

My Wednesday morning trash run was productive and also a lot of fun. I went with my friend Luke to Mount Royal and stopped at a house that I’ve been keeping an eye on for a little while now. I opened the recycling bin and noticed a bunch of old books and papers. Two sisters working together to clear out the house noticed me and were quite happy to see me taking some things.

Another woman was there to buy some furniture for her vintage shop in Hochelaga. While loading a piece into her van she asked me if I was the guy from “that blog.” She said she recognized me but I forgot to ask from where. She looked through the things I pulled out of the bin and bought a few vintage recipe pamphlets while playfully chiding the sisters for not offering them to her in the first place. We all ended up talking a bit and it was a great time, definitely one of the most positive and entertaining social interactions I’ve ever had out on “the hunt.”

The sisters saw me saving some books and offered me these 1920s Ontario school readers. They were in an old suitcase and wrapped with care in paper. They’re in exceptional condition, especially the covers which still look fresh after all these years. I put the lot on Ebay for 75$ (with free shipping), a very competitive price considering the others I’m seeing online.


I found this old 1920s CCM bike ad in the pages of one of the schoolbooks. It’s not particularly valuable but definitely makes for a cool yard sale piece!


Here are two 1950 “Ward Lock’s” travel guides for London and Glasgow. Some people like collecting these guides, I put them on Ebay for 50$ with free shipping.


There were also guides for the 1950 Holy Year celebration in Rome. It looks like a couple went on a long European trip that year.


This pamphlet for the Huronia region of Ontario (north of Toronto) stuck out from a small collection of travel brochures. It looks to be from the 1950s and has a very colonial feel, at one point touting how Huronia was “where white civilization began” and speaking of “stone-age Huron Indians.”



I also saved a collection of vintage recipe booklets. These are great .50 items for yard sales.


My best finds though came from the house where I found the Expo 67 papers a few weeks back. It had been quiet since then but came back strong this week.


On the curb was this strange carrying case. The top is clear plastic and there’s a series of holes on each side. If anyone knows what it’s made for let us know! I strapped it onto the back of my bike and used it to carry my finds.



In the recycling were a series of newspapers from the days of the October Crisis. They’re unfortunately incomplete, mostly front pages or specific sections, but they’re still cool and will look interesting at a yard sale.


A 1960s-era world map was popping out of one of the bags. The map was cool in itself but wrapped up inside were these two 1950s Snoopy posters. They’re quite large (28×20″) and in amazing condition for their age. They look brand new.

I figured they’d have some value given their iconic subject matter. I did a look through Ebay completed listings and found a pair that sold at auction for 61$. I figured though that these would be best sold as a “Buy it Now” listing and found evidence – a single Snoopy posted that sold for about 120$ US – that supported this notion. I listed mine for 150$ each but with free shipping, you can see them here and here.


Also inside a black garbage bag was this folded up British 5 Pound note. This is worth around 9$ Canadian if I can find a place to exchange it.


My favourite find though was this old wool cap.


It’s a WWII Royal Canadian Air Force hat. Hidden inside one of the folds was a piece of paper bearing the name of the airman who wore it. It’s in really amazing condition for its age and a great piece of history. It should make me some money as well: there was one just like it on a military collectibles website that sold for 210$.

That’s all for now! I hope to have similar good luck next week.

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