Discovered by chance

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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).”

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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.

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I found this nice old rosary in its original pouch.

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However, the real treasures were found in this little box sealed inside a ziplock bag.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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16 thoughts on “Discovered by chance

  1. Lynn says:

    amazing finds..

    hate to suggest this, but that military stuff (buttons yesterday/stuff today), if you should find it isnt worth too much, it would be generous if you donated it to a war museum.

    When i first read this, i was going to say, “Isn’t it odd, he suddenly finding all this military stuff?”, then I realised that the men who fought in the wars are getting elderly, and likely dying, and their relatives are not interested.

    I have an elderly friend who is 92 (we are in our fifties), and he and his wife live far fr their kids, so we keep an eye out for them. I have thought before, I hope they think to specify in their will, if their kids arent interested in this type of stuff, it might go to a war museum…But, not something I would ever mention to them..

    The man who these belonged to, was likely 91 or 92..

    your other finds are great too.

    • martng says:

      I was thinking recently that I was sort of surprised that I had never found any military stuff. Suddenly I’ve found it on three different occasions. A lot of it is chance I suppose, but we’re definitely around the time when people of that generation are passing on.

      I have some research to do to see what this is worth. I like the idea of giving to a museum, but given my financial situation I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make money off it if possible.

    • Most or all of the WWI veterans are gone, and these were WWI medals. There have been some stories in recent years about the last vets, and someone was still alive because he faked his age when he joined up. But he may have died more recently.

      The last veteran of the Mackenzie-Papineau Batallion in the Spanish Civil War is at least 92. Jules Paivio was about the youngest to volunteer, at 19; apparently most of the Canadian volunteers were older. At least, he was alive a year ago, having been given Spanish citizenship. It was only about a decade ago that those veterans got a monument in Ottawa, and they still aren’t recognized as veterans by Canada.

      It’s WWII where the veterans are getting old but still some remain alive.

      There was a story some years back about some medal going up for sale, I can’t remember if the owner was still alive, and it almost went out of the country, initially
      the War Museum in Ottawa unable to come up with money to buy it. I seem to recall in the end someone bought it and gave it to the museum, but I may not be remembering right.

      Michael

  2. Laramie says:

    What a superb discovery.Thank you so much.That is why other readers have pestered you on this blog to go to far-out areas.There may not be as many scavengers like you in Ville St.Laurent and other such boroughs as in the Plateau.Please continue to go to other areas often.It is a pity you cannot scavenge all through Montreal.

  3. Linda says:

    I’m always keen to read your blog entries to see where you’ve been and what “treasures” you have discovered but I now find myself looking forward to wandering through your “museum” and appreciating your respect for what should be treasured objects. I admire your commitment and hard work.

  4. Manish Patwari says:

    I admire your finds ,your sharp observation and brilliance.I write very often on animal rights,conservation and environmentalism hence I emphasize clearly the importance of what you are doing.In the old Montreal MIrror,I used to publish many letters on how to reduce waste.Imagine these historic medals sitting in the bottom of a landfill below piles of rotting foodif it were not for you..I would also like to tell you that some people routinely put out their trash only half an hour before the trash truck comes because they do not want scavengers sifting through their trash.They do not want even valuable stuff like art,antiques and figurines to be rescued by scavengers.A lot of great history is lost forever because of that.I am very happy your number of readers/subscribers has surpassed 1,000.Congratulations.Thanks a lot for your wonderful blog.

  5. Julian Borduas says:

    Tomorrow morning is trash pickup time in eastern Verdun.Keep that in mind.

  6. Frances Dale says:

    Hi;; would you like to sell the rosary? Rosaries are not supposed to be thrown out; if not passed on, then they should be buried in the ground. Just let me know! Fran

    Honor your own complexity.

    Mark Gerzon

  7. All wonderful finds!

    That’s definitely the France 2 Sols coin http://www.moneta-coins.com/photopost/showphoto.php?photo=1715&title=france-2-sols-constitutional-period&cat=569 Pretty thrilling to have a coin of such vintage, from a period of such historic upheaval. How many hands must have used that coin! and for what!

  8. Francine says:

    Please visit your sister in Ville St.Laurent more often.And en route to and from her apartment check out the garbage in the big borough of Ville St.Laurent.

  9. raidygrice says:

    I salute you and your worthy endeavours – From one Skip Diver to another – . After all, one man’s trash really is another’s treasure. I have a fine collection of beautiful timber, all of which was just thrown away.

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