I felt energetic and decided to make the trek to Villeray in the late evening as opposed to the early morning. My experience says that people put their trash out the night before fairly inconsistently but I had a theory that yesterday’s warm sunny weather, following a bout of cold rainy days, would make people more likely to take out the trash early.

The theory may have had some validity as there was certainly a lot of trash on the streets. Inside these bags were lots of fabric and sewing materials.


This box was full of yarn. I left the yarn for others to take and kept the box which I thought could have mild value (and plus, I just like old ephemera). It’s definitely older as there’s no French written on it, which I’m pretty sure would be illegal under Bill 101.


I brought home some miscellaneous sewing / knitting stuff, including a honey tub full of buttons. I imagine that this stuff was part of an older woman’s supplies. Some of it is pretty old – those De Long pins in the left tub for example are dated (Copyright) 1941. They promise not to rust and indeed over 70 years later there’s none to be seen!


A bunch of sewing patterns that date from the early 60s to mid 70s. They seem to be complete but I have no way of being sure.


I also found this board game made by Hydro Quebec, which is the publicly-owned electricity company up in these parts. The postmark on the envelope it was shipped in is dated 1966. I found another Quebec government sponsored board game from around the same time period which makes me think that making promotional board games was a fad in the late 60s (at least in the Quebec government).

This one is a snake-and-ladders knockoff. You win by getting to the last square which represents the development of the massive hydro dams in the Manicouagan Lake (“Manic”) area. They still provide much of Quebec’s power, a lot of which is also exported to Ontario and the States. You jump ahead based on things like getting new electric cables in your house and you fall back when you get wet hands, which means you should be more careful about the potential of an electric shock.

I wonder how many of these games are left sitting around in people’s closets? Chances are lots were thrown out (or will be) or somehow ruined. This game is probably pretty rare. Rare doesn’t necessarily means valuable but it’s a cool historical artefact nonetheless.

I’m heading out soon to explore the Plateau. I’ll let you know if I find anything!

15 thoughts on “Manic(ougan)”

  1. That’s needlepoint yarn in the small boxes.

    The sewing patterns are all ca. 1970-74, judging from the styles.

    Years ago, there used to be sewing patterns featured in all the newspapers (yours was featured in La Presse). I think the idem was syndicated. You just mailed your dollar or whatever off in the mail, and the paper sent you your pattern. I remembering one that way one time. I haven’t seen patterns in newspapers for years; I guess people just don’t sew like they used to.

  2. HI
    I am loving your blog and look forward to every new post!

    I make jewelry out of old buttons and wondered if I xould buy them from you? I live in Toronto right now but could cover shipping. Let me know if you could mail them and I would be happy to pay you.


  3. I hope all that yarn was taken.It is a wonderful thing you did—-placing the yarn in a more visible location.I have a lot of friends who are into this.

  4. I do some foraging at night ,so fewer people might observe me.Have you foraged outside factories ,warehouses and schools on garbage pickup day?Some schools and universities trash working computers and good furniture because they have acquired new computers and new furniture.You could be of great use here.A lot of poor people need cheap or free computers or laptops;some people can also use good furniture.Please add more dumpster diving spots to your map in different areas.I am waiting for it.I just want to praise you for your genius in setting up the blog so it becomes a photo blog where everyone can look at pictures.

  5. Do you give yourself a time/distance limit so that you’re making these excursions worth your while especially if you have a so-so day? I’m restricted by lack of spare time and gas cost since I have to drive to go exploring… I wish it was possible to bike like you do but I live in the burbs so it’s not practical.

    1. I think Villeray is about as far as I’m willing to go regularly (about 10 minutes just to get to the outer boundary of their trash pickup). Beyond that it’s not particularly practical. Basically leaves me with the Plateau, Rosemont, Villeray, some of Hochelaga/Centre-Sud, and Outremont. I’d love to check out other neighborhoods but it’s really not practical, especially when I’m choosing it over someplace closer.

      1. Might be impractical to burn gas for scavenging, but have to admit I love having my car since I find stuff I could never transport back by bike. This week I found a couple of very nice metal bar stools for my kitchen and a brand new exercise machine among other things. I had a good week!
        How did you find hunting that week you had the truck?

        1. I ended up not having much time to do it unfortunately. Plus,they keep an eye on the mileage so using the van would have been noticed. I mostly used it in the McGill Ghetto on moveout day and it came in handy – I brought home a lot of stuff (though I kept almost nothing, just didn’t want it to go to waste). I was able to use it there because most of my work was done in the ghetto anyways.

  6. I have a bag of beautiful undergarments,as in,slips that ladies wore under their dresses in the 50’s.They are lovely and perfect and all size small.I just found them and most of them have never been worn.Any takers?

    1. You might be able to make some money off those at a yard sale or on Etsy (if you make a store). You could also maybe trade them in at Eva B downtown (though don’t expect a bit payoff). Nice finds!

  7. Just noticed your blog doesn’t allow for nesting comments beyond a couple replies…

    1. I’ve assumed the people with trucks are generally looking for large, and obvious, items. So they can drive around quick, and grab the furniture. The more spread out the houses are, the more rapidly it can be taken in.

      On the other hand, unless they stop and look close, they can’t see any small items. The truck becomes a liability then, having to pull over and find a parking place, then get out and look.

      The flip side is that without a motor vehicle, there are real limits on what you can do. Not just the distance covered, but if it’s a good day, you end up finding more than you can carry. And unless you are close to home, you aren’t going to empty and then come back to look for more. I’ve been in the situation, like on July 1st. where I’ve found something on one pile, brought it along, only to abandon it at some later pile, because I’ve found something that I’ve decided is more worthy of bringing home.

      Since I’m more interested in small things, I wouldn’t want to go by car, though that’s moot since I’ve never had a driver’s license.

      One can always look for an office chair, those are quite common, and use it to transport some larger item. I’ve rolled office chairs for blocks and blocks because I wanted the chair. I’ve seen students in the McGill Ghetto use office chairs to move their belongings when they are moving between apartments in the area.


      1. This is well put. Cars definitely allow you to pick up bigger stuff and more stuff, but the inconvenience of driving, having to park, and paying for gas offset the profit / benefit gained from what you find. Also, it’s harder to see the trash on the curb, especially in the city where the streets are often tight. I focus on the small stuff (the “treasure”) which is often hard to see unless you’re on the street (and even then it’s hard to see). If I had a car I would mostly use it to explore garbage days in neighbourhoods that I wouldn’t be able to practically get to by bike. For instance, I’d love to check out the trash day up in Pointe-aux-trembles (Northeast corner of Montreal). Even then, however, I’d probably bring my bike to get a better view of the things on the curb (and a greater feel of a new neighbourhood).

    2. Hey, I just found out this is something I could change. It should be better now, thanks for letting me know

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