The unfailing barometer


I came across this little box full of records on my Thursday evening trash run. It was my only real find of the evening.


I picked out the ones I thought I could most likely sell at a yard sale. There’s some good stuff here, including MJ, The Police, Scorpions, The Cars, and the soundtrack to the movie “Shaft” (Isaac Hayes). They’re all in reasonable shape so I shouldn’t have any problem selling them.


I woke up early this morning and biked up to Villeray in celebration of their Friday morning trash day. I noticed this box marked “yard sale” and took a peek inside. There wasn’t much that I wanted, though I did take a pair of prescription glasses that could probably be donated to charity.

I posted this picture primarily to inform you fellow trash-pickers of a tip that I’m not sure I mentioned before: people who have yard sales frequently throw out the stuff that doesn’t sell on the next trash day. This is especially true if it’s a “we’re moving soon” kind of sale. If you’re looking for free housewares, books or whatever (or just want to save good stuff from the landfill) this idea’s for you.


Have you ever wondered what the inside of those massive rear-projection TVs looks like? Well, here it is. I was certain there was a second series of lights in the back, but I later realized there was actually a mirror there which made me feel a bit silly. I ended up taking a couple of the things that look like lights on the bottom, which are in fact pretty decent magnifying glasses.

So, the lesson here is that if you’re stuck in the woods and come across an old rear-projection TV, you can break it open and use the magnifiers inside to start a fire. Bear Grylls probably did this at some point.


Overall there wasn’t much to write home about in Villeray. I decided to stop for a coffee and a piece of Baklava at a newly-opened Patisserie on Villeray (the road) which gave me a pleasant boost of energy. I had left relatively early (around 6:40) so, reinvigorated by caffeine and sugar, I decided I had the time to check out the eastern part of Rosemont, which is my secondary Friday morning route. It includes streets like Dandurand, Masson, Holt, and Laurier between De Lorimier and St Michel.

I came across this collection of stuff somewhere in the middle of the mess of streets I just mentioned.


These snowshoes, made by Canadian Lacrosse Mfg Ltd, were poking out of one of the bags. I looked online and found a patent, filed in 1969 by this company for this snow-shoe. They say it’s much lighter than a traditional snow shoe which from what I can tell appears to be a valid claim. I’ll probably hang onto these, I like their compact size and they could be useful for life in the Canadian winter.


I also found this old envelope, which seemed somewhat out of place in a box otherwise full of miscellaneous junk. The envelope was sent from Pakistan in the late 1940s or early 1950s judging based on the stamps used. The postmark reads Chittagong, which is a major city and seaport in Bangladesh.

It’s addressed to a “Mr Shaw, Engineer Bridges, C.P.R. [Canadian Pacific Railway], Montreal,
Canada”. If anyone knows where “Engineer Bridges” would have been I’d like to know!

I did a bit of research and found an article in the 1946 Gazette quoting a Mr A.C. Shaw of the C.P.R. in a discussion about the boom of rail tourism from the US, among other things. He’s almost certainly the guy this letter was addressed to.

The title of this blog post comes from that article. They claim that railway ticket sales are an “unfailing barometer” of how well the economy is doing.

This envelope likely isn’t particularly valuable but it’s definitely a cool piece of ephemera. I might be able to get 50 cents for it at a yard sale. I could get a bit more selling online, but it’s not really worth my time even if I make an extra few dollars.

I hope to find some more cool stuff my Friday evening run. If I do I’ll let you know!

Pressure Cooker


I’m back in the city after spending the weekend visiting family. It was nice to spend some time in the country but it’s time to get back to the “grind” (hah!). I was hoping to be able to visit some open-pit dumps but apparently they’re all closed down. I remember going to a couple as a kid and having a good time looking at the piles of stuff thrown away by the locals, which included a few old toys I thought were pretty sweet.

Over the weekend I sold a couple of things on Ebay – a collection of 32 Egyptian figurines for 95$ and three pairs of old eyeglasses for 55$. I’m pretty happy with the prices I got for each, and I think they symbolize the progress I’ve made as an Ebay seller. In the early afternoon I went to the post office to send these things to their various destinations.

On my way home I saw these trash bags. Their angular shapes piqued my interest and I gave them the “light kick of appreciation”, stimulating the sound which revealed that there was some metal inside.


The bags contained kitchenwares – pots and pans and that sort of thing. Most was pretty unexceptional but this piece caught my eye. It’s a small pressure cooker / canner made by Seb in France. There doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with it. It’s missing the rubber gasket but I think those are pretty easily replaced.

I figured that it must have some value so I looked it up on Ebay. I found one which looked to be the same model that sold for 50$. Not too bad! Still, I think I’ll keep this for myself. I’d like to get into canning at some point and this would obviously be quite useful for that purpose.

I have a good feeling about the garbage this week. It’s nearing the end of the month and it looks like the weather is going to be nice. Hopefully that means I’ll find some cool stuff!

Girl with kaleidoscope


There’s been a heat wave here in Montreal this week, with temperatures ranging from the 30s to low 40s (humidity included). It isn’t great weather for trash-picking as people tend to avoid doing anything strenuous when it’s too hot. I’ve taken it easy as well, as I don’t want to succumb from heat stroke or anything.

My bike also needs some more repairs. I went for a slice of pizza on Tuesday and when I came out no more than 10 minutes later my front steering had seized up. It loosened up a bit but it’s definitely something I’ll need to fix. I think the hot, humid weather might have exasperated the problem.

Today I did a little run of the Mile End. I saw this curious thing on an alley and decided to look up what is was when I got home. Apparently it’s a dental x-ray film processor. It might have had some value even if just for parts, however being so massive it was basically impossible to bring home having not brought my bike trailer. It had also been rained on earlier in the day.


Otherwise, I found a collection of cassette tapes and a kaleidoscope in a black bag not far from the “Give Box” on St-Viateur. I left them, in addition to some bowls and an ashtray I had found earlier, in the box for others to take. Not a minute later I saw an older man with two children, a boy of maybe 8 years and a girl of maybe 5, open the box to see what treasures were inside. The older man picked up the kaleidoscope and demonstrated to the kids how to use it. They seemed to think it was pretty cool and the kaleidoscope found a new home!

It feels rewarding to see a tangible result from all this redistributing I do. I try to leave things I don’t personally want in more visible places for others to find very regularly. It’s rare, however, that I get to see someone take it home, let alone a couple of kids excited with their new toy.

I spent last weekend yard-saling, hanging out all day and making around 160$ in all, though some of that went to snacks and beer. I got rid of a fair bit of stuff, which feels nice. Now I have room for more! I’ll likely have another sale in early to mid August. I’ll be moving for September, so I’ll definitely be motivated to get rid of some of my excess things.

I’m heading back to my home town of Shawville, Quebec for the weekend to visit with the family. I should be back for the Monday evening trash run, unless I decide to take that time to fix up my ride.