News, notes, and old photos

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Good finds have been pretty hard to come by lately. I’m wondering if this is just a normal late summer lull. I was looking at my posts from this time last year and it doesn’t seem like I found much then either.

My working theory is that people are busy vacationing, visiting friends and family, or enjoying time with the kids before they go back to school. Quebec’s construction holiday ran from July 22 to August 6, and apparently lots of other Quebeckers not in the industry take time off around that time as well.

I hope to someday again find something exciting in the trash. On the plus side, at least I’ve had more time to do organizational stuff. My room for example is pretty much set up. I have a working area divided from my living area with a curtain, which ensures that I can separate my work from my life. I have much more room for storage (thanks in part to this nice old filing cabinet I found a couple weeks ago), and the things I need to access are usually easily found. I’m happy about that.

I also just bought a little photography light box, which should make taking photos of small items a lot easier. I’ll have to find a place for it somewhere.

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Sometimes I find things and don’t know what to do with them. The huge box of photos I found in April of last year is a great example. Since then the box has sat largely untouched in my storage. I brought it home recently because my storage isn’t climate controlled and isn’t an ideal place for old papers. Also, I realize that at some point I need to figure out a plan for their future.

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The box is the one that contained that cool cow photo that became subject of a newspaper article. For those who missed out, the journalist was able to locate the house, which looks different but still rests at 8112 Henri Julien in Villeray. If you can read French, the article discusses the history of cows in the city, among other things.

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There are a lot of other photos that might interest Quebec historians as well, such as the shot of the O’Brien Mines in Abitibi at bottom right. Others feature lumber camps, sugar shacks and random Quebec small towns.

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The great thing about these photos is that a lot of the names of the people are written on the back. If not for that it would be more or less impossible to track down who they are.

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Also of note are these large hand-drawn portraits, which I think were common in the late 1800s and early 1900s. There’s a similar drawing of my grandpa’s dad up at my grandparents house.

At some point I’ll have to do something with this box. I certainly don’t want to hold onto it forever. Part of the reason it sat around so long though is because I’m not sure exactly what to do with it. I’d like the collection to stay intact and go to an archive, someone with an interest in history, or the family itself. However, most archives won’t give them much attention, and family members are hard to find and quite possibly totally disinterested.

I’m also not rich enough to just give the box away. I owe lots and lots of money in student loans, and probably will need a root canal at some point in the near future. As a result, it’s impossible not to have self-interest in mind when considering what to do. I’m pretty confident I could sell the lot for at least 100$, and probably more.

My best idea right now is to put it all up for auction on eBay when traffic picks up again in the fall. Mention the most common last names found written on the photos in hopes that a family member or someone interested in genealogy sees them. If not, so it goes! At least the names are written on the back, and that they were saved from the trash in the first place.

However, if you have any other ideas feel free to mention them in the comments! I actually have a couple of other ephemera stashes too, including a bunch of WWII-era letters I found in NDG and some photos I found with that Nazi passport back in 2014. I’d like to deal with those at some point as well.

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On a related note, I found this postcard while digging through the box. It’s not from the same collection, but I stashed it there at some point with some other photos I found last April. The image is that of a house, and the postcard is probably from the 1920s. It’s not too exciting, but the fact that the address is written on the back makes it somewhat interesting. The house still stands today, and in fact looks very similar to how it did back then. If you want to check it out, the address is 377 Westchester Ave, Crestwood, Yonkers NY – you can see it using Google Maps.

I had the idea of mailing it to the owners of the new house. I’m pretty sure I want to do it, but I have to figure out how best to do so. The safest way in theory is to mail it in an envelope. However, might the new owner just throw out a letter addressed to their house (not them) from someone they don’t know? I’m thinking the best way to do it is just to mail it as is, since most postcards seem to make it through the mail okay. It would require putting a new stamp on an nearly antique postcard, but I’m not too worried about that.

On the off chance that these people are your neighbours, please ask them if they want this photo.

Potential postal strike?

In other news, Canada Post is talking strike again. As you might expect this is a serious pain in the ass for me given that most of my money comes from eBay sales. Other couriers are not only more expensive but also charge customs fees on every package going to the States which is very annoying for my customers. I prefer to put my store on vacation mode rather than bother with all that. My hope here is that they strike sooner rather than later, because I’ll be screwed if this lasts into the holiday season.

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18 thoughts on “News, notes, and old photos

  1. aoestuh says:

    You should send the house a letter and have them reply first! I’m sure they would love it.

  2. Alana says:

    I have an old postcard of a house in Vancouver. My great grandmother’s relative built the house in the 1920’s, the photo is of the mother and children on the veranda. I too have often thought about making a copy of the postcard and sending it too them, explaining the connection. On the to-do list…if a piece of mail like that showed up in my mailbox, I would be delighted! I am sure the folks in Yonkers would too.

  3. Joane says:

    What about consulting someone at the McCord Museum on ways of handling the local historical ephemera? As well, there may be people at McGill with some interest/ideas.

    • martng says:

      Maybe, I just get overwhelmed thinking about finding these people, talking to them, assuming they care and so on. Selling them on eBay also saves me a lot of work in that sense.

  4. I can relate. It’s hard to dispose of interesting old photos, even when you have no idea where the people/places are

    Maybe post the photos as a lot on Montreal Kijiji for $100?

    You could also try: In Victoria, BC … Buying and Selling Rare Books, Vintage Photography, and Manuscripts … http://www.bjarnetokerud.com/2009/08/books-and-papers-wanted.html

    Re: the Yonkers house postcard … I like aoestuh’s suggestion of sending a letter first.

    Hope the “good” finds picks up soon. Hope you find the “Great find” that will get you that dental work, and pay off your student loan. And I hope a postal strike doesn’t come to pass, and if it does, it’s short lived.

    (And thanks for the view of your new space.)

    • martng says:

      I like eBay for this stuff, if only because a much wider array of people will see the listing than if it was on Kijiji. The photos are more related to rural Quebec, not so much Montreal.

  5. Elsie says:

    What about inquiring at a local university regarding your photograph collection? If $100 is all you were expecting, I would think an interested party would gladly pay that.

    • martng says:

      I’m mostly just wary of trying to track people who might be interested down, when they alternative (listing and forgetting) is much easier and less stressful. The nice thing about eBay too is that the listings also reach a wide array of people with various interests, so it’s possible those interested will see and buy them regardless.

  6. Merrill Smith, Ottawa says:

    I like aoestuh’s idea, but a better one might be to send another postcard — some beautiful shot of Montreal, for example. They’re not likely to throw that out without reading it.

  7. tthowie says:

    My mom had (has?) a laundry hamper similar to the green one in your picture, although hers was white.

    Do you actually go through bags of garbage when you go out? Do you get many odd looks at all? I think it’s nice that you save things; I often wonder if we pillaged garbage dumps, would we be able to recycle a lot of materials, and just do good things…

    • martng says:

      I found that laundry hamper a while back actually. It’s starting to fall apart though so hopefully I can find a new one soon.

      I find pretty much everything in bags yeah. I get some odd looks, but when I go out at night I mostly go unnoticed.

      I’m sure there’s lot of good stuff in dumps. I’ll bet there’s millions of dollars worth of gold in the Montreal dumps for example, if only there was a way to retrieve it easily…

  8. labibliotecaria says:

    Did some librarian magic – I have some names for you attached to that address: Sandy Yaeger and Valerie Yaeger, 377 Westchester Avenue, Tuckahoe, NY 10707. Source: Reference AtoZ.

  9. Grace says:

    I hope that you do list the photographs on EBay. My sister has a search set up on Ebay for our paternal grandfather’s unusual last name. A couple of years ago, a 1928 college graduation photo of my grandfather popped up for auction, so of course, she bought it. A few years prior to that, we were thrilled to come across a 1906 map, showing their farm and school house with husband family’s name. Plenty of people search for those old photos.

    • martng says:

      Yeah, that’s a reason I like the eBay idea. People do use those “alerts” that email you when someone of a certain keyword gets posted, so listing it might be the most effective way to reach someone in the family. Plus, it’s relatively low-effort for me.

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