Red Ensign


It was raining Monday afternoon but I decided to see what I could find around walking the streets of the Plateau. It ended up being a fairly idyllic trip, largely due to my love for the rainy walk but also because I very casually came across some decent stuff.


Inside the bin above was a shopping bag that looked to contain a few wires for various consumer products. At the bottom of the bag were some foreign coins and a couple pieces of junk sterling silver. I gave the 2 Euro piece to my friend moving to Spain and am saving the 2 Sacagawea US dollars for an eventual trip to the states. I also saved a wireless router and a foot pedal made for transcription.

I don’t usually get my hands too dirty but this bag was a little nasty. You can see the cigarette butt and also some random feathers (wet from the rain) and a used Q-tip. Nothing that won’t wash off! Regardless, I made sure to wash the coins and such in soapy water. It’s a good reminder that garbage picking isn’t always glamorous and that a strong stomach is a required tool.



I came across more coins later on. The bag was much cleaner this time around. These ones were a little more interesting, including a 1975 Southern Alberta Canada Games token, a 1945 nickel, a 1943 silver dime, and another Sacagawea dollar. The silver goes into the scrap jar while the rest of the foreign coins go into my recently emptied bank (more on that later).

Also inside the bag were some nice looking DVDs, a surge protector and three old magazines, one of which is a Playboy from 1970. In some nearby bags I found two unopened packages of Ikeas clips.


I took another garbage walk Tuesday evening, this time with a couple of friends. These bags looked to contain the partial remains of an office of some kind.


I thought I struck it rich when I found two copies of Adobe CS5.5 – they sell on Ebay for a few hundred a pop. Alas, they are only the upgrade version (from 5 to 5.5) so they don’t hold much value. If anyone happens to want a minor upgrade to their CS5 let me know.

There were some useful things otherwise, including 5 power cords, tape, and a bunch of unused regular and bubble envelopes (very useful for eBay selling!).


Not far away was this pile of stuff. The box in the back was full of clothes and had an “à donner” (to give) written on it. We scavenged lots of good stuff: nice shoes and boots (friends have already claimed the two pairs on the right); a collection of unopened teas, hot chocolate, and canned food; and some great clothes, including what is now one of my favourite shirts.


A house on my Wednesday trip to Mount Royal provided my favourite finds, however. It’s the same place that gave me the WWII Air Force cap a few weeks back so it wasn’t entirely unexpected.


Sitting inside those garbage cans were four old flags, three of which I didn’t really recognize. I did some research.


Canada’s current flag has only existed since 1965. Before that were three different editions of a “Red Ensign” that featured the Union Jack at top left and a shield or coat of arms on the right. This is the second of those three – it served as Canada’s national flag from 1921-1957. It’s notable characteristics are the weird woman-harp (replaced by a normal harp for the 1958-1965 version) and the green maple leaves (later changed to red). You can read more about it and see the evolution here.

There were two of these old Canadian flags. One is in great condition and the other is good but with a few minor tears. I think they’re really cool and they’ve already taught me a little history. They’re worth a bit of cash too – I expect to get between 100-150 for the great one and 50-75 for the good.

The other mysterious flag turned out to be an Australian Red Ensign. The one I recognized was Swiss, though at first I thought it was a Red Cross flag. The Canadian and Australian flags were made by Scyco of Canada while the Swiss was made by Heimgartner and Co. They’re both vintage and I expect them to garner some decent money as well.

That’s all for now! The car should be available next week so I’ll be able to explore a bit further again. Still, I’ve enjoyed the return to walking and biking for trash and plan on doing it more going forward. I relied on the car a bit too much for a while there.

11 thoughts on “Red Ensign”

  1. Wow, that Playboy… Another era, huh!
    Are there actually nudes in there?

      1. But the lower regions are hidden behind “tastefully placed” scarves or clothing. It would be a few years later before everything was revealed.

        I got an issue from 1970 at a used book store last year, and what surprised me was how thick it was. It was always more than photo layouts, which of course helped make it a significant magazine. And since the “Playboy Lifestyle” was about consumerism, that thick a magazine is loaded with ads from the period, which
        cam be interesting in themselves. Even the articles well reflect the times, if you identified in such a way.

        That sort of thing is something I’ve rarely found in the garbage (or recycling), the one thing people don’t want others to know they have read or looked at. You don’t generally see it at garage sales either, so I guess it’s dropped off at some doorstep somewhere when someone wants to get rid of it.


  2. Great finds as always. Those dollar coins still haven’t caught on in the States. Might as well hang onto them as collector’s items. Someday they might be worth something… or just a dollar.

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