Let’s recap


A recap of the “summer of garbage” is below! But, first things first. Yesterday evening I went out to Rosemont, the section east of Papineau and west of Iberville. This area hasn’t been particularly lucrative since I began exploring it a few months ago but I keep checking it out, if only due to the lack of competition for my Thursday evening time slot.

There wasn’t too much of interest last night either, though I did find a few neat things, most of which came from this bunch of stuff on rue des Écores.


Lying out in the open was this pair of Jackson brand skates. They’re in great shape, even fairly sharp. They’re probably worth around 20$ or so.


I also found this old Singer manual typewriter. It seems to work fine, just like most others typewriters I find. I can probably sell this for 40$ on Craigslist, especially since it has it’s original case.


I saved this near-full bottle of Yves St-Laurent “Champagne” eau de toilette from another spot. I’ve been surprised recently about how much scents can be worth on Ebay, it all depends on the name and vintage. This bottle for example, which is the exact same size and name, sold recently for 68$ on Ebay.


After finishing in Rosemont I decided to try my luck in the Mile End. I didn’t spend too much time there, but I did manage to find this watch (in the same spot where I found all those Avon products a few weeks back). It doesn’t look like it was ever worn. It’s nothing super fancy, but it’s in very good condition and looks quite nice. I can generally get 5$ easy for watches at yard sales.


Last but not least is this leftover find from my Wednesday trip to TMR. I saw this bag full of odd-looking “Hell Bank Notes” inside a black bag and threw them in my trailer.

I did some research and apparently these bills are part of a relatively modern Chinese funerary tradition. The bills are joss paper and are made to be burned in honour of the dead. It’s actually a pretty interesting tradition, I’d suggest reading the fairly brief wikipedia article on the topic. I’m not sure what I’ll do with them, though I suppose I could start a campfire with them next time a celebrity passes on.


Now for some general news. I wrote an article back in May for the “New Escapologist,” a Montreal-based magazine that discusses “practical escape routes from the present-day predicaments of demeaning work, status anxiety and urban lethargy.” You can buy a PDF copy here for 9.50 if you’re interested. Thanks to Samara for this great drawing of me, it’s featured at the beginning of the article.

Also, as you can tell I’ve continued this project past the October deadline written in the subtitle. I plan on doing this through the winter, though I’ll likely be taking more days off, especially when the weather is bad. I just don’t see myself doing anything else right now. I love saving things from the trash and finding cool stuff. I’ve also done well enough financially that I’m not yet desperate for a more conventional job. The extra time off will allow me to focus on other things, like maybe learning guitar or some other skill(s).

Overall, the project has been fairly successful. While my organization skills are unfortunately poor enough that I never actually made a log of my earnings, my current financial situation implies that I more or less broke even while living a frugal-but-not-especially-so lifestyle. I’ve made my money primarily from yard sales, Ebay, and Craigslist. I’ve saved a lot of good stuff from going to landfills and I like to hope I’ve encouraged others to throw out less while maybe taking a peek in the trash themselves.

I’ve actually gotten a lot better at “trash hunting” over the summer too. I now visit wealthier neighbourhoods more often and have a better knowledge of what streets offer me the best chance of making great finds, focusing less on covering every street but instead scouring the ones I like the most. It also took me a while to figure out the garbage days. For example, Rosemont confused me for a while before I finally figured out that they had switched their schedule around to account for a new composting day. I doubt it’ll take me so long to figure that out next time.

People often ask me of my favourite or “best” find. I have a hard time answering that, there’s just so many great little things. However, I can give you a top three finds of the summer, all of which are actually accumulations of things.


#3 came way back in April when I found a pillowcase full of vintage costume jewelry and curios in the Mile End. There were some beautiful silver pieces as well. They smelled strongly of cigarette smoke but with some airing out and washing they were fine. Here’s the original post, though I believe I had a couple of other posts devoted to the things I found there. I ended up making a fair bit of money off this stuff at yard sales, and I still have some of the nicer pieces to this day.


#2 came in early August when I found a box and shopping bag full of jewelry and curios in Rosemont. I found some great silver jewellery here as well, but this find edges out #3 because it contained more odds and ends, including some old military stuff. The original post is here, but again there are a few more subsequent posts devoted to the miscellaneous bits and bobs I found here.


#1, though, has to be when I found a little box full of treasures when biking out to visit my mom and sister out in Ville St Laurent back in June. The box, protected by a small ziplock bag, contained old coins from the late 1800s – early 1900s (and one from 17 something), a German Iron Cross from WWI, and a pair of WWI dog tags from a Lieutenant of the 22nd Battalion. The dog tags are definitely on the list of my favourite finds of all time, being something so unique and of such an interesting time in our history. This might have been my favourite find because it served as a great reminder that my “job” isn’t just fun but also something that benefits our culture. It was also so improbable that I was even in the area, or nearby that specific street, and finding this felt very special as a result.

As you can see my favourite finds are the treasures, especially when there’s a whole bunch of them at once. Finding these things just brings out my inner kid in a candy store, I love poking through it not knowing what I’ll find next.

Anyways, the project isn’t done yet. I’m going to keep doing it for the foreseeable future, perhaps even intensifying it again next spring and summer. The best may be yet to come.

This evening I’ll likely check out the eastern Plateau. As usual I’ll let you know if I find anything.

6 thoughts on “Let’s recap”

  1. Great post! Well written. Love the in-depth update on your ongoing goings on, and the list of your favourite summer finds.

    The drawing is great. It’s so you … right down to the eyebrows and expression … not to mention that wild and crazy mane of hair. 🙂

    Love those Hell Bank Notes. (Can I have a couple pleeze?)

  2. Great work Martin, and nice summing-up piece. Please keep me posted on the next Garage Sale, and please do keep doing all this. I think its a wonderful effort & wish more people were so committed to our discards…and what they say about the culture. Thank you for doing this.

  3. I’m glad you did the overview–I started following late and missed a lot of these things. AND I’m glad to hear you’ll be keeping on–I’d miss the posts!

  4. Ad I pasted from Craigslist
    I am looking for a small radio to use with headphones while jogging. Also would like to find a four track cassette player. I’m 77 on small pension but will pay a fair price. Ed edbrown@bell.net 514 762 4630

  5. It is getting pretty cold.When it is very windy ,too rainy and cold,it is harder to scavenge art and knick-knacks.Somebody dumped a suitcase in the trash in my neighborhood recently,with the zipper broken.You could see threads,embroidery equipment,crayons,etc,etc inside the suitcase but I almost got frostbite pawing through the bag .I ran home after salvaging a beautiful coin bank.In the cold,it is hard to open bags or suitcases.If you wear gloves,you lose grip.How do you fight the fear of frostbite?Any coping strategies so I can forage in winter like you?Please post and let us know.

    1. The cold is hardest on your fingers. It makes it really hard to untie a bag and use your hands to sort through stuff.

      All you can do is dress well. I’m not sure exactly how best to do this but good waterproof gloves are definitely important. It’s also important to keep the rest of you warm so that if your hands get cold you can just put them in your pockets to warm them up a bit.

      I’ll let you know if I think of anything else.

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