I went out yesterday to have dinner with family. My sister lives about a 20 minute walk from Cote-Vertu metro and when I go out there I have to choose between a 50 minute bike ride or an hour of metro and walking. I almost always go with the bike ride since it’s a bit quicker and it saves me about 5$ in tickets.
Biking also gives you the (faint) possibility of finding some trash along the way. I spotted the above on a side road around Marcel-Laurin and Cote-Vertu in Ville St Laurent and decided to take a peek. In VSL they require trash to be put in bins which generally makes my life more difficult as I can’t see the shapes and contours of the bags. Opening and closing each individual bin is also time consuming but there’s a bunch of other ways these bins kind of suck for us trash pickers. I stopped here specifically because there was an extra trash bag on the side, which generally means that the (fairly large) bin was too full to hold it.
It was a complete coincidence that I happened upon this because my bike route to my sister’s house in VSL varies each time. It’s very much a case of “right place, right time, (right person).”
Inside the bag was some kind of audio mixer, a wood plane (in great condition!), an electric lamp and a little tripod which also happens to be in perfect shape. Some decent stuff for sure – I can probably sell the plane for 20$ and the tripod is worth about 40-50. I think I’ll keep the tripod as it might come in handy for taking different types of shots for the blog.
I decided to check the bin. My preliminary inspection didn’t turn up much, just some filed-away papers from the 1980s underneath some used cleaning rags and a mostly-empty container of road salt. I figured though that if there were papers from the 80s there could be some older paper ephemera as well. It was worth a look and my attention to detail has paid off in the past. I removed some junk that was in the way to see what was below. I pulled out a white kitchen trash bag. Inside I found more tax papers, from the early 2000s this time, but also a few smaller items.
I found this nice old rosary in its original pouch.
However, the real treasures were found in this little box sealed inside a ziplock bag.
My favourite thing from this box has to be these leather (?) dog tags that look to be from World War I. They belonged to a Lieutenant H Marquette of the 22nd Battalion. The 22nd Battalion is interesting as it was created primarily for French-Canadian soldiers. While other French-Canadian units were created they mostly ended up reinforcing the 22nd as they fought in every major Canadian engagement and suffered 4000 casualties.
It’s pretty amazing that they’re in such good condition. They’re a really interesting piece of history, one that makes you contemplate what it must have been like to fight in that brutal war that killed over sixteen million people. I helps me feel grateful for this relatively incredibly comfortable life that I often take for granted.
Also in the box was this German WWI Iron Cross. It’s strange that this would be in the same box as the dog tags. It’s possible that the previous owner was just a collector, but if so they had a fairly small collection. My theory is that Lieutenant Marquette might have picked this up while fighting overseas.
There were several coins as well. This 1913 German “Zwei (Two) Mark” coin stuck out to me the most. It’s made of silver and is in fantastic condition. I looked it up on Ebay and these sell up to 43$. Apparently it celebrates the 100th anniversary of Napoleon’s defeat.
Below are the other coins, most of which range from 1870 to the mid 1910s and come from Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and Spain. There’s one coin, very faded, that looks to be dated 1792.
Things with history are always the most interesting to find and I’m glad I rescued them from the dump. I especially appreciate the dog tags. While there are other copies of the coins and the cross, from my understanding a soldier would only have one set of tags, meaning that these are actually the only dog tags in existence for H Marquette. A unique piece of history indeed. The fact that I found them so coincidentally makes it all even more special.
I head out to the Mile End soon with a taste for finding more historical stuff. I’ll let you know how it goes.