The undiscovered country

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I recently decided to explore some new neighbourhoods before it gets too cold, with a specific focus on more wealthy areas. On Thursday I got up super early, leaving around 6:45 in order to check out Cote-des-neiges and Outremont. I was specifically drawn to this little area near the oratory. I remember finding a couple of old computers (286s if I remember correctly) here a couple of years ago. I stashed them in the woods thinking that I’d come back later with my car. My car at that time was on its last legs, however, and in the end I reckoned it wasn’t worth the risk. I saw them again when I checked a year later. I wonder if they’re still there?

Unfortunately, outside of that story and a pretty picture I have nothing to show you from that trip. The area is very hilly and biking around with my trailer in tow was pretty exhausting. There’s a few areas that have some trash potential but overall not enough to be worth the energy of going back again.

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More worth my while was my Monday morning trip to Sault-au-Récollet. Sault-au-Récollet is one of the oldest areas in Montreal, located at the far east of Ahuntsic next to Rivière des Prairies. The oldest church in Montreal, l’Église de la Visitation was built in this area – you can see a bit of it on the right side of the picture. The homes, especially those along the river are much different than the rest of Montreal, reminding me more of older small town communities in Quebec such as Chambly. It’s a really beautiful area. I noticed a lot of nice bike paths, I’ll have to come back sometime when not on garbage-duty.

I brought along a bike trailer and a curious friend. We focused mostly on rues Gouin and Prieur and some side streets along the way. I took this picture from the bridge to Ile-de-la-Visitation.

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We came across this pile not too long after we began. It seemed like someone was clearing out a house for one reason or another. There was lots of clothing and kitchen stuff. The man on the left was looking for scrap metal.

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My friend, who just moved into a new place, came away with some nice kitchen stuff, including a couple of working food processors, a cake dish and a big cooking pot.

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We also saved this cast iron pan. It’s in fine shape and with a little love should last at least 400 years.

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I got a nice teapot that looks to be made of silver plated copper. It could use a polishing but it’s in pretty nice condition still.

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I also found a camera tripod, the fifth since I began the “summer of garbage.” I think this one is pretty nice, it’s by Polaroid and comes with air-bubble levels and its own bag. It also has its original tags. It costs about 25$ + shipping on Amazon, I’d guess I could find a buyer locally for around that price.

Later on we came across a little pile somewhere off Prieur. Inside were some new, in plastic kitchen scrubs (and other miscellaneous cleaning products) and a bag containing pictures, picture frames and some old letters. I took the letters (my friend took the frames) thinking they might be worth poking through later. At some point a woman came out of her house with a camera, presumably to take a picture of us, telling us “vous n’avez pas le droit” (you don’t have the right) or something along those lines.

We were pretty much done anyways so we moved on, wondering if she called the cops but not being too worried about it. I figure she was worried mostly about identity thieves. Any cops investigating us would notice the bike trailer full of miscellaneous junk and know that we weren’t biking around on the hunt for personal information. As an aside, I’m starting to wonder if these identity thieves looking through trash even exist. I’m sure there’s a few out there, but overall the idea seems to me like the product of sensationalized media. I’ve certainly never seen anyone “on the curb” looking for anything other than cans, metal, or in my case, history and treasure.

I still have yet to look through the letters, if there’s anything particularly interesting (and not too personal) I’ll let you know. They didn’t seem like particularly personal letters, however.

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When heading home we went through another part of Ahuntsic just south of the Highway 40 which was also scheduled for trash pickup. This pile contained a lot of kitchen stuff, knick knacks, and miscellaneous rubbish.

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From it I saved this set of dishes. I thought they were pretty cute.

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Here’s me with a trailer full of treasure. It was a lot of work taking this heavy load back home I tell you what. Even small hills were challenging to climb with all the extra weight. By the time I got back I was pretty much done with biking for the day. I think we spent around 2.5 to 3 hours on the road with maybe an hour spent pickin’.

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I had plans to check out Hampstead this morning but after all that biking I felt like taking a more “normal” route. Hampstead is far, probably 30 minutes by bike just to get there and would have involved me biking over a big hill.

I originally planned on going to Villeray. However, I had forgotten my backpack and camera in Park Ex the day before – this necessitated my going there first. Without this twist of fate I never would have come across this massive pile on Bloomfield south of Jarry. Inside these bags were tonnes of vintage women’s clothing, costume jewelry, books, ephemera, and old photographs. There was far too much for one person to properly look through, at least in the span of time and the circumstances given, so I texted some friends who lived nearby to come and check it out. One, who also had a car, was able to drop by. Thanks to her we were able to save a lot more than I would have been able to otherwise.

Overall, I spent about three hours looking through this stuff. We were lucky that this street was later in the trash collection route, all of this could easily have been taken away after only an hour.

We still have a lot of sorting to do but I can show you a few of my favourite finds.

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Much of the jewelry doesn’t look to be too special but there are definitely a few nice pieces, including the three sterling silver rings in the back. The one on the right is familiar as I’ve found one exactly like it before. It’s an old Avon piece. My favourite though is the one on the left.

I also found a St Christopher medal. It came in a little leather pouch. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s made of silver as well, a lot of old religious medallions are.

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This nursing license diploma dated 1921 is definitely one of my favourite finds. Everything we found in this pile was well organized and taken care of.

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Another great thing about my finds here is that whoever owned them often left notes as to why the item was significant, or in the case of pictures a short description of who the person was. Inside this 1903 copy of “The Four Gospels Harmonized” was a note on which was written:

“Mumsie’s Gospel which she studied in the convent in Richmond – she often told me she had to stand & say it word for word.”

Oftentimes I have to guess at the meaning of the things I find. It’s nice to have a bit more knowledge this time. Knowing the story adds a bit of depth and richness to the finds.

Tomorrow I’m going to TMR, if not by car by bike, to see if I can find some more cool stuff there. I also have to spend some time sorting through and taking photos of the stuff my friend and I found today. Another post isn’t far away, I’m sure of that.

Victory is ours!

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I went out to TMR this morning and came out with a pretty good haul. I travelled by bike, unlike the last few weeks when I went with a friend by car, and brought along my bike trailer. A friend also came along and helped carry some stuff. At one point a security guard stopped me and told me garbage picking was forbidden and to leave TMR. I felt disobedient, paying him lip service and continuing on my route. I didn’t think there was any truth to the claim and felt ready to discuss it with the real police if necessary. Regardless, we didn’t cross paths again.

I came across this pile midway through my journey. It sat in front of a recently sold house. In my trailer you can see a somewhat busted learner’s guitar I had found a bit earlier. It’s a piece of junk but it’s fun to play around with.

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I pulled this odd wooden box by Kindermann and Co out of one of the bags. Inside are a couple of light fixtures. I didn’t find any reference to this online so I was hoping you could help me figure out what it is! Another picture is in the thumbnail below.

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I also found two of these teapots (?). The design is pretty unique, I’m thinking it might actually work pretty well. I kept one and left one where someone else might find it.

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The bags also contained a number of slides. The photos are not unique, they’re the kind you’d buy at souvenir shops back in the day. I thought it was pretty silly to buy slides that everyone would have. However, these were the pre-internet days and I could see serving as good memorabilia for someone who doesn’t like taking photos.

These slides are useless for my photography project but I bet someone might have an interest in them. Maybe I’ll put them up for free on craigslist.

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My best finds, however, came from this spot. I wish I remembered where it was (I always lose my bearing in TMR due to its winding streets), all I know is that it was around the north-west of the neighborhood.

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Inside the boxes were a bunch of old newspapers, most of which were published at the end of WWII. These are really interesting to look at. One thing I noted were the massive, beautiful ads specially designed for the end of the war. If this were to happen today I’d think of it as corporate pandering but I think these ads are a genuine expression of happiness. They are a symbol of exactly how mobilized the entire country (and world) was for this war.

Another thing I noted were headlines proclaiming “peace for our time,” an optimism which looks pretty naive with retrospection.

There’s also three Hebrew papers (1941, 1942, 1958) and two other incomplete English papers, one of which was published at the end of Expo 67. I think the fact that Expo 67 made it into this small collection goes to show how important the event was to Montreal. Check out the pictures in the gallery below.

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There were lots of old photos, some of which I took. This one, featuring a speaker at a B’nai Brith (a Jewish Volunteer organization) lodge stuck out for whatever reason. I had the feeling that the speaker might be famous, though it’s quite likely that he’s not.

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I like this old portrait. It was printed on some kind of metal (or perhaps plastic) by a Columbia Portraits Co out of Chicago.

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Another old photo. It looks to be the same person. There’s a bunch of Hebrew writing on the back.

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This is the Jewish version of the kind of trinkets my Grandpa used to like so much. It’s actually a pretty nice design.

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I just posted photos of an old 1960s yearbook in my last post. Here’s another one, a 1962 yearbook from Quebec High School in Quebec City. The teachers here were “normal,” not nuns like at the last school. I’m going to poke through this a bit later, but it’s always fun to read through the old student profiles. A few of those are in the thumbnail below.

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Here’s a 1967 wood-covered copy of the Tora and a 1937 kids book about Passover. Both are in good shape, the Passover book remarkably so. I realize now that I displayed the Tora the wrong way, Hebrew texts are printed in the opposite direction.

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These are old coin banks. The left is made by Regal Toys and is made out of plastic. The other is porcelain but I don’t see any makers marks. As clowns go this one’s pretty charming.

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Last but not least is this old postcard featuring an hockey player that I think is Gordie Howe. What’s interesting is the message on the back, “Thank you for the nice letter,” which was typed using a typewriter. It’s possible that Gordie himself typed this brief message, though it’s also possible that he had someone else responding to his letters. Since there’s no proof that Gordie ever touched this it’s probably not worth much. There’s also a marks on the front corners, probably from being taped to a wall. It’s still pretty cool though.

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I’m glad I ignored the security guard, otherwise this stuff likely would have been lost forever. I acknowledge, though, that I’m privileged before the law as a clean cut white guy. If I were part of a different social group or had a mental illness things like this would be much harder to get away with.

The usual route for tomorrow is Outremont and Rosemont. However, I’m feeling adventurous and want to explore some new places. Maybe I can find a route to do in Cote des Neiges or Ahuntsic. I have some research to do!

Camera shy

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I haven’t posted much recently, I know. Finds have been a bit slow but I’ve also been going out with friends on occasion. For whatever reason when I go out with others my focus on the blog gets disrupted. I think it’s because I’m a bit camera shy and my natural inclination is to avoid posting photos with myself or my friends in them. It’s a fear of being judged I suppose, something I’ve fought with a lot over the years. I’ll try to meditate on this, maybe some more people-full posts are on their way.

Yesterday was a holiday (Canadian Thanksgiving). The streets were very quiet but the garbage was still due to be collected. In the morning I found this porcelain hanging lamp fixture in Outremont. It was near an antique / junk shop that’s in the process of closing down, perhaps they were the ones who threw it out. Other than a small chip on the opposite side it’s in great shape. It looks like a well designed piece though I didn’t see any maker’s marks. It’s also pretty heavy, fortunately it wasn’t too far from home.

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In the evening I explored the western section of the Plateau. I came across a spot on Waverly which has had some almost-interesting trash recently and saw a couple of closed boxes. I opened them up, as I do, and found a haul of…

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…never opened Avon products from the 70s. Inside the boxes are colognes, after-shaves, perfumes, novelty soaps, hand lotions, hair cream and powders, many with novelty bottles (some of which I set up for display). The bottles are pretty cool in a kitchsy sort of way. I bet some of the product, especially the after-shaves and colognes, are still good too.

These have some collectors value. On Ebay these seem to sell for 2-13$ a piece, with the moose and the “10 point buck” being on the higher end. Some sellers have them up for more, but while they do occasionally sell for that price you’d need to have a lot of storage space where they can sit in the meantime, which I don’t have. I also just don’t have the patience. I’ll probably end up putting them up on Ebay as a lot. There are 32 in total, if I put them up for an average of 2$ a pop they should sell relatively quickly and make me around 60$ after fees.

If anyone local has any interest let me know, I’d give a bit of a discount (50$ total?) since you’d be saving me the effort of taking photos, packing, shipping and so on.

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I found these recorders on Friday evening during my tour of Rosemont (in between Iberville and Pie-X). In the same pile I found some 90s era film cameras, which aren’t worth much, and also some pieces of photo equipment which were mildly valuable. In the same spot the week before I found a few Polaroid cameras but never got around to posting them.

I’ve been pretty lazy with putting things on Ebay recently but yesterday I spent some time and got some listings up, many of which was the camera equipment I found above. Ebay sales have been a bit slow recently, though I did sell these blue and white ceramic dogs I found in TMR for 80$. I’m pretty happy about that!

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I sorted through the last of the old books I found a few weeks ago and picked out a few favourites. At the top left is a 1943 book about St Joseph’s Oratory. It was published six years after Brother Andre died and before the oratory as we know it today was completed. I’m related somehow to Brother Andre (through my Bessette side) so I find anything related to him or the oratory to be fairly interesting.

There’s also a 1956 guide to a Montreal Agricultural fair. a 1950s-era guide detailing the [roduction of Shur-gain foods, and a little book published by the CCF in the mid-fourties. The CCF, or the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation was a left-wing political party in Canada before 1961 when it merged with the CLC (Canadian Labour Congress) to become the NDP. I like finding old political ephemera as well.

(FYI: There’s a button you can click on the bottom right of the gallery screen if you want to see the pictures closer up!)

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I also saved this 1966 yearbook from the Presentation de Marie school in Granby (a town close to Montreal). It was a all-girls high school run by the church, meaning that all the teachers were nuns. It’s interesting that most of the girls listed “efficient secretary” or “efficient nurse” as their career aspiration. A pretty cool piece of history, that’s for sure.

That’s all for now. Tonight I’m scheduled to go to the eastern section of the Plateau, though I’m a bit bored of that to be honest. I’ll see if there are any alternate Tuesday evening routes, maybe there’ll be one in Cote des Neiges that I could go to. I’ll let you know how that goes.