I had high hopes for post-Christmas trash. I fantasized about people with more money than brains throwing out their PS3 because they got a PS4, or maybe their iPhone 5 because they got an iPhone 6. However, I didn’t find much of that or anything else in the week after Christmas. A big snowstorm, one of Montreal’s largest in quite some time might have impacted things a bit but I still never felt as if a big find was at all imminent. My working theory now is that most of the “old” stuff ends up not trashed but stored in basements, closets and garages where it sits until the people eventually move, at which point the item is donated or tossed.

The first week of 2016 was much of the same. It was looking like a lost cause before I came across this spot. I remember there being a “sold” sign out front of this house not long ago, and I guess the people living there are getting ready to move.


I pulled this intriguing etched bird tray out of one of the bags. It definitely vintage and looks to be made of aluminum or pewter.


Does anyone have any ideas as to what kind of bird this is supposed to be?


It’s marked as being made in China, but not with a sticker as is now so ubiquitous today. I can’t find anything quite like it online, so it’s impossible to say if it’s junk, treasure, or something in between. If you know anything about it let me know in the comments!


My best finds though were quite small. At the bottom of this bag were a bunch of sewing needles and other small items. Knowing I needed to be thorough I removed most of the larger items so I could get a better view of what was underneath. I then sifted through the small items – at the bottom (and out of the picture) are the rejects and towards the top are the things yet to be sorted. Using this technique I found a couple of silver earrings that I might have otherwise missed.


My most valuable finds came from this bag. In with the good stuff (which looked to have come from a “junk drawer” of sorts) were a bunch of used makeup applicators and a tuft of hair probably pulled from a brush. Some might find this to be gross but it doesn’t bother me too much. I’ll take this over kitty litter or old cigarette ashes any day of the week.


Here’s the accumulation of the finest of my smaller finds. Let’s take a closer look…


At this point I feel only occasionally dumbfounded at what I see getting thrown away. However, it was still hard to believe that someone would toss this 1967 Canadian centennial coin set. The coins were designed by Alex Coville, a noted Canadian painter.


The top four (the dollar, 50 cent, 25 cent, and 10 cent) coins are all 80% silver. The set is only worth around 40$, but it still surprises me how people can so willingly throw out significant quantities of silver. Keep reading though, as the best is yet to come!


The watch on the left is an art deco era Henex. It doesn’t work, but because it’s cool and vintage it might fetch me around 5$. On the left is a John Hardy watch. I’ve never seen a sterling silver watch before but apparently that’s what it is. It also doesn’t work, but I expect I can get a good price for it on eBay regardless. There’s a decent market for John Hardy watches – this one of the same model sold on eBay for 1700$. That watch is obviously in nicer condition but it shows that I should be able to get a decent price selling the watch “as is”. I could also look into getting it repaired.



In the jewelry department we have two Hebrew pendants, a silver tie clip, and a couple of silver earrings.


The star earrings have some unusual marks. If anyone has any idea what they mean let me know. I suspect the stars are vermeil (ie: gold plated silver), and maybe these marks indicate that.


This old ring is pretty neat. It’s nicely enameled and looks to be Chinese in origin. I found a similar ring (described as “very old ring, probably before 1911”) that sold at auction on eBay for 28$. Mine’s in much nicer condition though. I listed it at 90$ – we’ll see if anyone bites.


Now for an unusual looking pin. It seems to belong to the Phi Delta Epsilon medical fraternity. Their motto is Esse Quam Videri, which translates as “to be, rather than to seem.”


The fact that it’s 10k gold makes it a fair bit more valuable. Despite some pretty uninspiring photography one just like it sold at auction for 115$. I set my price a bit higher because fixed price listings often do better than auctions, and I expect to ultimately get between 175-200$ for my pin.


This watch may be my best find though. On the back is engraved: “To (person’s name) from Mother & Dad on graduation 1958.”


The watch is made by Omega, a luxury watchmaker based out of Switzerland. It’s an automatic movement, meaning that the watch winds itself as you move. It seems to work just fine, though there are a few cosmetic issues including the missing “9” on the dial and the non-original crown.


The inside is marked 0.750, which is another way of saying 18k gold. That makes it fairly valuable even just for scrap!


This watch (assuming it’s legit, and I’m 99% sure it is) should make me a nice chunk of cash. The most similar Omega I could find was this one, which is being sold for about 1200$ Canadian. That watch is in much nicer condition than mine. Still, I suspect that just by the virtue of having an 18k gold case and a working movement my watch should go for somewhere in the 300-500$ range. That’s a very nice payday for me, making this watch a likely addition to my eventual “best of 2016” post!

Looking back, I’ve now saved four solid gold watches in my trash picking career. I found my first in the Plateau way back in 2012 (when this blog was in its infancy), and the 2nd and 3rd from the same spot in Hampstead last year. I expect this one will end up being the most valuable of the bunch. Hopefully there are many yet to come!

Recent sales (December 21 – January 3)

The past two weeks were pretty slow for sales, probably because of the post holiday lull. However, I made enough to just inch past my goal of 20k for the year. I’m pretty happy with that achievement!

One of my hopes is that this blog inspires people to try picking themselves, either on a casual basis or perhaps even as a job. While 20k isn’t really a ton of money, it’s comfortably above the Canadian poverty line which is approximately 18k. I expect I could make a lot more too if I focused all my energies on picking and listing.  Regardless, I think I’ve shown that it’s possible to earn a living from my specific type of  scavenging.

One doesn’t need to go full out to enjoy the benefits trash picking, however. My first trash runs were just me walking around my neighbourhood on trash night. It was a nice way get some exercise and clear my thoughts while finding things to decorate my apartment with. I’m sure many people can benefit from “garbage therapy.” At the very least it’s a great reason to get out for a walk, bike ride, or drive, and anyone eyeing the curbs is bound to find something cool at some point. One piece of advice: for best results, don’t be afraid to open those black trash bags!

My goal for 2016 will be to make 24 thousand dollars. It’s an ambitious but achievable target. I learned a lot about time management and organization in 2015, and I thinking improvements in those skills will help make 2016 my best year yet.

And now, without further ado my most recent sales!


1. Rideau Plate bowl: On eBay for 53$. This was one of my oldest listings and I’m glad to see it go. Found nearly two years ago in NDG. For the record, this picture shows how it looked when I found it – I cleaned off the tarnish before listing it online.


2. Sterling silver tongs: On eBay for 45$. Found May 2015 in Cote-des-Neiges.


3. Vintage Conway Stewart fountain pen, 14k gold nib: On eBay for 50$. Found around a month ago in Mount Royal.


4. 1960s Hai Karate cologne: On eBay for 75$. It seems there’s a decent market for these scents. Apparently the marketing was memorable back in the day – here’s a link to one of their old ads, which I personally find a bit bizarre! Found a couple summers ago in the Plateau, but not listed until recently.


5. Raymond Weil watch for repair: On eBay for 25$. Found in Hampstead sometime this summer.

Total: 248$, 148$ since the new year.

2015 total: 20111$.

Financial year in review! pt. 1

I’ve added up the financial numbers from the last year and will share the results with you in a few different posts. This one focuses on where I found the items I sold. I owe many thanks to my friend Sarah, who did most of the work designing the excellent infographic below!

Note that while I did achieve my goal of 20k for the year, the numbers here add up to something closer to 15k. This is because I don’t keep track of the origins of the items I sell at yard sales, the small change I deposit to my bank account, and much of the gold and silver I sell for scrap.



I should note a few factors that influence where I end up looking for trash.

The first is geographical convenience. In 2015 I became even less motivated to travel long distances for trash. It costs a lot more in gas and mechanical wear and tear to go somewhere like Pointe-Claire, and it takes a bunch of extra time as well. For reference, I live roughly around the location of the dot in the Plateau.

The second is the quality of the garbage day. The best is when neighbourhoods put out garbage and recycling just once a week on the same day (ie: Verdun, Mount Royal, Hampstead, Rosemont, much of the Sud-Ouest). Second best are neighbourhoods with two trash days a week, and a recycling day that coincides with one of the garbage pickups (ie: NDG, CDN). Roughly equal to that are those with one trash day and a different recycling day (ie: Cote St-Luc, VSL, Westmount, Lachine). The worst are neighbourhoods with two different trash days and also a separate recycling day (ie: Ahunstic, Plateau, Montreal North).

The more pickups there are the more spread out the good finds will be. At this point I mostly avoid those lower-tier neighbourhoods. The exception here is the Plateau, which I’ll often explore because I enjoy walking or biking around the neighbourhood. Fortunately, Montreal is apparently now moving to standardize the once a week trash pickup. Much of Villeray recently converted to a once a week pickup, making it a much better picking destination. I won’t necessarily know when a trash schedule changes, so if you’re living in Montreal let me know if they switch around your trash days!

The third factor is the wealth of the neighborhood. I’m more likely to travel to wealthier spots because they have a track record of throwing out the best stuff. Plenty of neighbourhoods have small enclaves of wealth, but only Westmount, Hampstead, and Mount Royal (of the places I regularly visited) can be characterized as generally wealthy.

My most profitable neighbourhood this year was Mount Royal, which I would rate very highly in all three categories. It’s worth noting here that the frequency of my visits is probably the biggest factor determining a neighborhood’s final profit numbers; I went to Mount Royal more than any other borough this year.

Let me know if you have any questions or suggested destinations! I may not actually make it to the places you suggest, but I always appreciate the information.

Check back soon for a regular post, or another financial summary. Whichever comes first.

List of neighbourhoods

Red (3000$ and up)
1. Mount Royal: 3795$

Orange (2000-3000$)
1. CDN / NDG: 1367$ NDG, 1270$ CDN, 2637$ total
2. Hampstead / CSL: 1629$ Hampstead, 580$ CSL, 2209$ total

Gold (1000-2000$)
1. Westmount: 1947$
2. Plateau: 1619$

Green (500-1000$)
1. Ville St-Laurent: 932$
2. Verdun: 887$

Blue (100-500$)
1. Outremont: 480$
2. Rosemont: 442$
3. Sud-Ouest: 247$
4. Montreal West: 165$
5. Park Ex / Villeray / St Michel: 140$
6. Ville-Marie: 130$

Light blue (1-99$)

1. Ahuntsic: 85$
2. Lachine: 70$
3. Pierrefonds: 30$

Grey: no sales of note.