The past couple of weeks have been slower than I expected. I saw some renovation materials outside my Cote-des-Neiges spot last garbage day. That’s usually a bad sign for me; it most often means that the powers that be are done clearing the house and are now fixing it up. I’ll keep my eye on the situation (there’s a first time for everything), but I’m not optimistic that I’ll find anything there again.


I’m thinking about switching up my route in hopes that I come across productive spots in different neighborhoods. It’s good not to be too attached to any particular neighborhood, as even the best have dry spells where you won’t find anything at all.

Thursday morning is a good example about how a route rotation can work. Many different neighbourhoods in Montreal have trash pickups at that time, including: Ahuntsic, Cartierville, Roxboro, Dorval, Ville St Laurent, the McGill Ghetto, Golden Square Mile / Downtown, Cote-des-Neiges, NDG, St Leonard, St Michel, St Henri, and Hochelaga just to name a few. However, my personal favorites are Westmount, Verdun, Rosemont, and Cote St-Luc. I like those best because they’re close to home and provide good quality garbage on a reasonable schedule.

(That list makes me realize how little ground I’m actually able to cover on a day-to-day basis!)

To clarify, a reasonable schedule means that there are only one or two garbage days a week (including recycling). In Verdun, for example there is only one garbage day a week and the recycling is picked up that same day. That makes one trip more productive and complete. NDG is slightly worse but still decent: there are two garbage days a week, but one of them is also a recycling pickup. Montreal’s worst case scenario can be seen in Ahuntsic, where there are two garbage days and also a separate recycling pickup. This means that the waste is spread out over three days, which really isn’t good for my odds of finding anything worthwhile. The Plateau is also like this, but since I live here I will sometimes explore it very casually.

Montreal has plans to reduce garbage pickup to one per week in all boroughs, which would make some of these places more attractive destinations. Unfortunately this plan is still years away from being realized.

I chose to go to Verdun a couple Thursdays ago and came away empty handed. Last week it was Cote St-Luc’s turn to (hopefully) provide.


I came across a large collection of books at one pile. Many of them were Hebrew and about Jewish topics.


There were a whole bunch of documents as well. It looked like they belonged to someone who did a lot of research on various topics of Jewish history.


It rained pretty hard the night before. This ruined several books and damaged others, including this Talmud (?) from the late 1800s. The book will dry but the pages will be water damaged near the edges. Others were mostly undamaged, particularly the books on the bottom of the boxes. Still, it’s a shame that they were put out in such poor weather.


I saved several books, many of which dated back to the late 1800s and early 1900s.


I picked up a nice set of dictionaries from the late 1800s. There was one book missing, though (maybe I didn’t see it) so I left it on the curb for someone else to appreciate (they did get taken, for the record). The fact that I’m moving soon makes me want to keep a bit less than I otherwise might.


There were a bunch of old newspapers, some of which were from the late 60s and early 70s.


This one has an interesting headline: “Has The Moon Been Ghettoized?” I can’t claim to have any idea what that might mean. I’ll have to read the article to find out.


Some of the books were interesting. This is a summary of the archives of the commune of Orange (France) that was printed in 1917.


This one might have been my favourite. It’s called “La question juive vue par vingt-six éminentes personnalités” [The Jewish question as seen by twenty-six thinkers] and was published in 1934, one year after Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor of Germany. The middle of the cover features a swastika. I haven’t had the time to look at it much yet (my bad French makes it even more difficult). I wonder what these people have to say about the controversial topic.

I found two for sale online. One is going for 100 Euros while the other is selling for 60 Euros. Books often take forever to sell (it can be hard to know which ones will sell), but eBay accounts for this by allowing you to list books for a fraction of the price of a normal listing.

These finds make it a bit more likely I’ll visit Cote St-Luc again this week.


Otherwise, I came across this pile in Westmount.


I found a few things here the week before, including a box of vintage circa 1940s Crown mason jars. (I’d be happy to get 20$ for them, if someone wants to come pick them up. There are 11 jars in nice condition).

While I was looking around a man came out of the house and told me there wasn’t anything good inside the bags. I was holding a fan I had found, which he said sparked up and wasn’t good anymore. He didn’t seem overly concerned about my looking around – my guess is that he legitimately believed there was nothing of value inside.

He got in his car and drove away. I looked through a few more bags before the garbage truck came and took the rest away. I wasn’t able to see it all, which is always disappointing.


I saved a few things, including a handmade pencil holder …


… and a worn but attractive Birks silver plate tray.


It was this little box though that held my most valuable find. It contained a little audience measurement device …


… and a small collection of change. I could tell right away from the jingle of the coins. There are a few bigger denominations, including two toonies and three loonies that bring the total to a decent $12.23.

I make a lot of money from people who don’t pay enough attention what they’re throwing out. I’ll be back here again to see what else gets tossed. A box full of gold would be nice!

Hopefully I find more to talk about this week. If not I’m also working on an analysis of my sales from the past year, which I should have for you sometime soon.

14 thoughts on “Options”

  1. Is Canada so rich that people routinely throw out money in trash?Dina from Argentina

    1. Some people do. This was probably by accident, but some others don’t care. To some people small change is nothing, to others they need it to live.

  2. I live in Eastern NDG and I know a lady who just opens one recycling bin after another to find and rescue discarded books and magazines.I have seen her emerge with an armload of books rescued from recycling bins at least three or four times in the last two years.Are specialty book and magazine scavengers common in your knowledge?

    1. From stories about used book stores, I gather they do get people showing up with books to sell, and the store owners clearly know these aren’t people selling their own books. At least one of the bookstore owners called these people “pickers”.

      I have no idea if they are finding the books in the garbage, or buying at used book sales.

      On the other hand, in NDG they have some old Montreal Mirror newspaper boxes set up to put books in, and others can take them. Back in December, I was checking one, and a guy came along to look, and he just struck me as someone hoping to find thing to resell. I don’t know why I figured that, but there seemed something mercenary about it.

      Last July 1st, I came upon a lot of CD and some DVDs in an open suitcase. I picked them over, and while looking in an adjacent box of other things, at least one other picked over the pile. But then someone came along and took the whole suitcase, not really looking t what was inside. Likely a reseller.

      I always check piles of books on the sidewalk, but I’m not reselling. But I’ve told the story before of being t one end of a pile one July 1st and finding DVDs and CDs, while at the other end, some guy was finding empty cans. He’d be better of grabbing the DVDs, but it takes more work than grabbing cans. I’m certainly glad I mostly see others like me, checking piles of things for specific things rather than grabbing them all to resell.


  3. Almost makes me wanna go out there in the nearest landfill and start seeking out curious valuables.

    Not so much for the promise of finding something actually precious (to sell) but for like…. for the experience of collecting pieces of someone else’s history.

    What I fear is that after hours and days digging through all kinds of nasty filth, I may end up empty handed, dirty and hating my life :DD

    In any case, very entertaining stuff, thanks for posting!

  4. Don’t know if you still have the pencil holder, but it looks similar to Robert Maxwell Critters, which can go for a decent price.
    Love your blog!

  5. Hi Martin, Hope you move well. Could you give your new adress to meet you and take the book and maybe some others things. JF

    Date: Mon, 15 Jun 2015 18:50:27 +0000 To: jf.urruty@hotmail.com

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