A Singer must die


Today was my first real day off for a while. I spent the morning and afternoon doing some very necessary chores around the house but set out to explore the trash of the eastern Plateau around 4pm.

Now that things are warmer I notice a lot more people looking through trash. I met one guy the other day who had just found an XBOX 360 and told me a story of how he once discovered a live Iguana in a taped-up box in the trash. It’s good to see more people out there and interesting to hear their tales, but if I’m going to find enough to get by this summer I’ll have to get out there a bit earlier. That’s why I left at 4 today instead of my usual 5.

I came across this little backpack on Cartier north of Masson.


Inside were some tools for crafting leather products. I recognize them from my childhood when I learned some leather-working from an elderly neighbour. Some are rusty but they would still work fine.


I pulled this container out of one of the bags. It contained a bunch of miscellaneous stuff, include a 3 Peso bill from Cuba and some fishing weights (in the pill bottle). I took the cash and the weights and left the rest on Masson for others to pick through.


Also on Cartier (south of Mont-Royal) was this collection of stuff that was likely left behind from a move.


This box contained the computer it was originally made for – the iMac G5. It’s one of those that has everything built into the monitor so it was pretty heavy. I put it in my backpack and brought it home and it seems to work great! It boots but I need a password to get further. I’ll try to find a way to format it but either way it’s still worth some money, about 40-50$ according to my preliminary research.

I also found a digital tuner. It seems to power on fine, but I can’t test it beyond that.


I saved this wood carving from one of the bags. On the back it’s marked that it’s from the Squamish Nation and was made by someone made Van Joseph. Also etched in the back is that it’s a “moon mask”.


An art piece from the same place.


I found this disco-ball in an alley – I think it was the one next to de la Roche or Brebeuf. I think it was left behind after a move. I brought it home, cleaned it up a bit and it looks great. It appears to be home-made as the base is just a styrofoam ball but it’s pretty awesome still.

I like this picture. It makes it look like I found this thing on Mars!


A beautiful wood dresser in an alley. Unfortunately I had no way of taking it with me.


I came across this wooden box that piqued my interest.


Inside was an old Singer sewing machine. I haven’t done my research on it yet but it’s definitely an older model (it weighs a tonne!). The best part though is that it actually works great. Even the light turns on! Definitely the find of the day. The wooden box it came in needs a bit of work but I’m confident I can make it right again.


I came across these old saws on St Gregoire and noticed their elegantly carved wooden handles. About two minutes after I picked them up the garbage truck came by and junked up the rest of the stuff, mostly old scrap wood.


Unfortunately I was quite overloaded by this point and the bigger saw fell out of my bike basket, cracking a bit of the wood handle. It’s still in good shape but not pristine like it once was.

This is a mark on the biggest bolt of the larger saw. It (most likely they – the smaller one is just missing these bolts) was made by H. Dission and Sons out of some place called Philada.


The last thing I found was this chair next to the St Vincent de Paul church on St Joseph. It had a 5$ tag on the top but I guess they decided it wasn’t worth selling.


I decided to take it home. It’s super light and definitely an older piece. I wonder what it was made of. Regardless, I spent the last few blocks biking with a sewing machine and a heavy fire extinguisher from the 70s (not pictured) in my backpack, the wooden sewing machine box and other random stuff in the milk crate on the back of my bike, and this chair in my left hand. Fun stuff! Part of what makes me a good trash picker though is my ability to be a mule when need be.

In other news…

The shin guards from my last post turned out to be sort of valuable. I got an offer from someone on Twitter for about 40$. Not bad!

My friend is going to come over to look at the other hockey equipment. We may work out a trade for it.

I found a mark on the little perfume bottle from a few posts ago that indicates that it is 80% Silver, which definitely increases it’s value.

6 thoughts on “A Singer must die”

  1. neat finds…seems like a lot of clean outs from homes of senior citizens
    yeah, sometimes grit and determination are what help me bring heavy stuff back from the alleys, bookcases, vintage mirrors, booze, whatnot,
    a friend once hand carried a a jillion? dozen of eggs from a grocery store dumpster a very long way back to his home, that and ketchup packets feed him for months,
    trying to understand the arrangement where you are–
    Montreal doesn’t have alleys or garbage cans in the back of garages,
    bags are put out in the front of the houses on the curb?

    1. Sometimes I’ve found something in one pile, and abandoned it later when I find something better.

      The garbage situation is complicated. When I was a kid, it all went into garbage cans, and the garbage men would come around to the back of the house to get it. I’m not sure if that applied everywhere or just to where I lived. And somewhere along the way that stopped, you’d have to move the garbage cans closer to the street. And that morphed too, a lot of people just use garbage bags. In 1999, there were new bylaws in Montreal about this, because people were using grocery bags as garbage bags, and the city wanted less to fuss over. So grocery bags were banned, it had to be a full size green garbage bag.

      Whether or not there are garbage cans seems personal preference, but nwo all I see are those wheeled bins.

      One problem with the Mcgill garbage this week was that some of the alleys now have public bins, to avoid the piles of garbage bags. But it makes it harder to get the good stuff, it’s mixed in with icky garbage just tossed in the bins. I found the polaroid digital camera in one of those, didn’t look deeper because of the real

      There are two competing problems here. Garbage and then the neat stuff in the garbage. Making things neater makes it harder to retrieve the good stuff, peopel set up programs to keep the neat stuff out of the garbage, not thinking about the people who go looking for the neat stuff.


  2. i love the mask from the squamish nation- a gorgeous find!
    martin, you must redouble efforts to get a wagon or trailer.

    1. Apparently only 10 people speak the Squamish language, if the smallpox doesn’t get you, the assimilation will. I thought 150 people still speaking the Syilx language was bad, though both are Salish languages.

      Vine Deloria has a book about the people of the pacific northwest after the Europeans arrived (obviously later than on the east coast) It had to be a lush life, the temperatures and food, but as soon as contact was made people started dying from smallpox. Which makes me think that generally, by the time the larger european population arrived in any given area, the people were already fewer in numbers, so the masses of europeans never saw natives when they were strong.

      Anyway, the current edition of Vine Deloria’s book has a mask on the cover somewhat similar to the one found in the garbage. If I could find my copy, I’d be able to see what the mask on the cover represents.


  3. Cool bunch of stuff.

    Seeing those saws made me think of your grandpa. He had quite a collection, and used to pick them up at garage sales whenever he saw them.

    “Philada” is just short for Philadelphia.

    Article on Disston Saw medallions http://www.disstonianinstitute.com/medallionpage.html

    Here’s a Disston saw for $69 on ebay http://www.ebay.com/bhp/disston-and-sons-saw It looks the same shape as yours with the medallion.

    Article on how to clean vintage saws http://www.vintagesaws.com/library/saw_clean/saw_clean.html

  4. The vintage sewing machine is an amazing find! Jealous.
    Went to a contents sale the other week and there was one just like that selling for $250.

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