July 1st is a bit of a phenomenon here in Quebec. Due to a law passed in the 70s a plurality of Montrealers, estimated at around 115,000 (or 7% of the population) move on or around that date. This leads to massive amounts of trash lining the streets, particularly the more transient ones where renters vastly outnumber owners (like rue Chapleau in the picture above).
In theory it’s a great time for garbage picking. This year was the first in a few that I wasn’t moving myself on July 1st, so I went on a bunch of extra trash runs in hopes of acquiring a bumper crop of trash.
However, the extra effort didn’t pay off. Maybe it was just bad luck, not being in the right place at the right time. But it might also be that a lot of the people moving on July 1st aren’t rich. It’s not like the McGill move-out day where most of the people are privileged. Those moving on July 1st are renters, not owners, and often aren’t well-to-do.
It also doesn’t help that pretty much everyone in the city knows about the event. There’s a lot of competition, and often I’d come across a pile only to find the bags ripped apart and trash strewn everywhere. I’m sure the garbage collectors hate this aspect of moving day, though I’m sure some appreciate the overtime hours.
It should also be noted that, although this blog is dedicated to the cool things that Montrealers throw out, many people, especially those in mixed-income areas are actually very good at redistributing their unwanted items. Charities get loads of stuff this time of year, and I saw many a “free box” on the curb.
The best part of July 1st is probably the furniture. My friend and I picked up several nice, mostly vintage pieces – they need a bit of love but my friend thinks she can fix them up. If all goes well I’ll share some “before and afters” in a future post. My own household acquired this unusual loveseat, it’s a bit funny looking but actually quite comfortable. Plus, the two halves separate which comes in handy during game nights. You have to be careful about bedbugs when taking furniture, but if you know what an infestation looks like they’re easy enough to avoid.
My best moving day finds actually came not as a result of my increased effort, but from just casually walking around with friends. I found a nice Guerlain perfume, and a bunch of other quality cosmetics / shampoos (which my friend claimed) while walking around the lower Plateau. The Guerlain has already sold for 15$ to a local buyer.
It’s good to trash pick with friends sometimes because there’s a lot to be learned from other people’s brains. One of the shampoos we found was made by Kiehl’s, a brand my friend noted as being expensive. I don’t know much about cosmetics so I made a note to remember the brand. Later on, while walking by myself I found another nearly full bottle of Kiehl’s not far from home. The price tag on the bottom says 27$. Pricey indeed! I’ll probably end up using it myself, even though my hair isn’t particularly frizzy. The shampoo smells really good.
I also found a couple containers filled with change. No loonies or toonies unfortunately, but it all probably adds up to somewhere around 10$. Easy money!
My best moving day find though came on July 2nd while walking with a different friend. I spotted these bags while walking to a restaurant. I gave one of the heavier looking ones a light kick, the contents sounded like dishes clacking together. I wasn’t expecting much, but I figured I’d open it anyways because our house needed a couple extra bowls.
Inside was a large collection of really nicely made pottery. And it wasn’t just that one bag, two others had also been stuffed with pottery. A couple people stopped to watch as I pulled piece after piece out of the bags. One lady, a grandma with two of her grandchildren, was dumbfounded and said she never saw anything like it. I let both kids take a piece each, which were going to be gifts for their mother if I remember right.
Another guy, who said that he himself was a potter, was impressed by the quality of the pieces and said that only 100 potters in Quebec could do them that well. I’ll keep a couple pieces for myself but I’ll sell the rest.
Thankfully my friend was there to help me carry it all back home. I filled two medium sized boxes (which were conveniently located near the pile) and we both put some in our backpacks as well. Needless to say our trip to the restaurant was delayed, but we did get there eventually.
Check out the rest of the collection below, and click on the pictures for a better look! Most of them are in perfect condition, only a few have chips.
Otherwise, I did well on the rich people garbage front (not moving day related, because most wealthy people own their home). I found this little wooden box near Westmount.
Inside was a collection of safety pins, as well as a collection of cufflinks.
I immediately recognized that this pair was made by Guy Vidal, the noted Montreal-based brutalist (1960s) jewelry designer. I love his work, and these cufflinks in particular are quite striking. I’ve found his work on a few different occasions now, and I expect these to sell for between 100-150$.
There was also some dental gold in the box, which I didn’t notice until I got home later. Tooth crowns are pretty gnarly, but dental gold tends to be a pretty high carat (16k apparently) and I expect this chunk to net me around 80-100$.
That spot also provided a collection of vintage 1970s toy cars. I thought this was a good find at first, but the cars are pretty beat up and of limited interest to a collector. Still, I should be able to get something for them.
That pile gave me a nice Givenchy perfume as well. It already sold for 17$. The Hermes came from elsewhere.
Let’s finish off with a vintage Bernzomatic torch box I found in Westmount. Inside was a small collection of junk, the best piece being a silver 20 kopek Russian Empire coin from 1870. It’s not super valuable but it’s pretty cool regardless. The box is nice as well and should be an easy sell at a yard sale. I’d bet that the box held a lot more neat stuff before it was tossed out, but such is garbage.
I’ve been looking for a garage or other storage option. However, I’ve had no luck thus far. If you know of anything suitable in the Mile End, Plateau, Outremont, CDN, Park Ex, or Rosemont please let me know! Ideally it would be heated and have electricity (I’d like to set up a photo studio for junk inside). Extra ideally my furniture friend would also be able to store things there and occasionally be able to use a power sander (no power saws though). Unfortunately locations in other neighbourhoods won’t work because I don’t want to to travel far. Anyways, if you know of anything please let me know!