Winter wonderland

montreal snow

I’m back in the city after spending a few days back home with the family for Christmas celebrations. While I was gone Montreal had a winter storm for the ages which deposited a record 45 cm (close to 18 inches if you’re American) on the city. I would have liked to have been around to see it, but it’s also cool to see the aftermath.

Garbage collection was definitely more challenging than usual, with the workers having to navigate through big snowdrifts to get to the trash.

montreal snowstorm aftermath

It was also a challenge for car owners. Good luck with that!


I decided to go out and see the sights (and also the trash). It was pretty nice out. I also wanted to investigate and see if there was a post-Christmas “bump” in decent trash as people replaced old with new.

I came across some decent stuff in these bags but I get the feeling it was because the person moved (the end-of-the-month bump is definitely a real thing). I ended up taking two whole bags worth of stuff – thankfully it was close to home.

brass picture frames

Some brass picture frames with the stock photos still in.

chinese knockoff dvds

A big collection of DVDs. If these were Chinese knockoffs they’d be worth some decent money. I tested a bunch of them on my computer, and while they’re generally pretty high quality knockoffs the video and audio quality is not sufficient to sell them for a good price. The covers are pretty high-quality knockoffs too but fall within the same parameters.

There’s a lot here though. Most are large collections of certain stars (Alfred Hitchcock, Oliver Stone, Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise), complete or near complete TV series (Family Guy, Rome, The Office, Will and Grace, Scrubs and more). They seemed to be well taken care of – not many scratches and they all played quite easily.


There was also a large collection of (official) CDs. There’s some pretty good stuff here, ranging from the Beatles to Radiohead to Franz Ferninand to Amadou and Miriam. These seem to be in pretty good shape too.


A bag of pens and highlighters.


A couple of cell phones. One doesn’t seem to work even though it looks pretty “like-new” – I wonder if it’s just that the battery sat around dead for too long. The other one doesn’t have a charger, which is odd given that there’s five different chargers in the box. One of the chargers is for a European plug.


There were also some home decorations. Here’s a dancing Buddha (incense holder?).


A wood carving.


A couple more wood carvings.


At first I thought this light was a cheap knockoff. I didn’t see a switch so I figured you had to unplug it every time you wanted to use it. Fortunately my friend was around and suggested it might turn on via clapping or touch. It turns out it turns on if you tap any part of the surface. There’s also three different light setting (dark, medium, bright). In the end it’s actually a pretty cool lamp!


A statue of liberty figurine.

radiohead movie

I also found this Radiohead VHS movie in another location. Someone threw out their old tape collection and there was this one VHS in with the bunch. There were some decent tapes but they didn’t seem well taken care of (most were laying outside their boxes) and tapes aren’t known for their longevity. I brought them home but I’ll probably put them on the curb next trash day and see if anyone take them.

I get the impression that there’s not much of a post-Christmas “bump.” There might be some trash from kids coming home and sorting through their old stuff but there certainly didn’t seem to be a mass throwaway of decent, if older stuff. This might be different in really well-to-do areas though.

A final note: if any Montrealers want this stuff I’d be willing to barter for organic food or microbrew beer. I’m not expecting too much so don’t be afraid to make an offer!

10 thoughts on “Winter wonderland”

  1. I am shocked that someone would throw out so many good CDs in the garbage.I still listen to CDs and vinyl records,even though I have an ipod.My parents and many of my friends in their twenties still listen to Cds even though they all have iphones,ipods and YOu Tube.Do not throw them out again.Either sell them or keep them.A number of thrown out things are taken by nobody,however many others are taken immediately.Congratulations on great finds.Do not just dump things if you cannot find takers.Happy new year.

  2. I lose respect for people who throw out great stuff like Cds and wood carvings in the garbage.We need more heroes like you who rescue great stuff and help the environment.Three cheers to you.I raise a glass of porto or champagne to you.

  3. well the dvd knock offs were on craigslist yesterday i dident think he would really throw them out boy i wish i had the picture frames

  4. Wonderful finds.I do not know your first name so I can address you directly.I live in an anglophone area in Montreal and look through trash every now and then to retrieve good stuff to use for myself.I am a clean-cut,young ,good-looking male.I sometimes get dirty looks from passers-by,as if saying ,`What is a young guy like you doing looking through trash’?,though most people are just fine,even encouraging or indifferent.I hate people throwing out things in good shape.It is maybe that anglo-saxons may be more a bit more snobbish about such things than francophones or other minorities.What percent of your readers actually live in Montreal?Are trash foragers and dumpster divers more likely to be female or male?And how do you find the attitudes of different ethnic groups regarding trash-foraging?Just very eager to know from you,all the more because you study sociology.

    1. I definitely think other cultures are more open to trash picking than people from an English background. It also seems like French people respect it more than the English. I think the English have a stronger sense of what is “proper” and also may not respect garbage picking as much (being closer to that “protestant work ethic” that Max Weber discussed).

      I don’t really feel like people look at me too funny here, but it probably depends on the neighborhood too. I’m in the Plateau, which is close enough to downtown that people can’t really expect to never see someone rummaging through their trash. I’d expect that in Westmount, NDG, Cote-St-Luc, West Island, St-Leonard and other places I’d feel a bit more self-conscious.

      I find that most trash pickers are men; however I have seen some women do it too. Most of them either look for cans or scrap metal.

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