Geneva pt.1


I came across this spot a little over a month ago and found so much neat stuff (some of which dated back to the late 1800s) that it stressed me out. I was dealing with some burnout / overworking issues even before stopping here, and adding two carloads of stuff to research, photograph, pack away, and so on sure didn’t help matters!


I’ll share some of the other finds in a future post. This one will focus on the large postcard collection that I found in the recycling bin. I’d guess there are around 400 in total, but I’m only going to share around 140 here. I’d love to share them all, but it’s a pretty time consuming process so I decided to just pick out my favourites, or at least the ones I thought were most interesting. It would have been nice to scan them as well, but the photos will have to do.

Most of the postcards seem to date from the early 1900s to the 1960s. A few are from later, maybe the 70s and 80s. Most are unused, but some were written on and mailed out. I’d say most originate from Quebec and Eastern Canada, but there are also some from the States (especially New York), Western Canada, and other countries.

Click on the picture if you want to zoom in for a better look! This particular photo came out a little bit blurry, but the rest are a fair bit better.




I’m always a sucker for old hotel postcards. Those old buildings just look so distinguished.


These postcards feature dumb jokes, jokes I don’t understand, and holiday greetings. The one at top right is just creepy. Was there ever a time that it wasn’t?


This postcard was one of my favourites. It’s printed in a way that gives it a cool texture and depth. I’d guess it was made in the 1920s.


These are all from the Montreal area. The “Caughnawaga historique” up top is actually a booklet full of different postcards. The Prince of Wales Hotel postcard on the right proudly notes that it has running water in every room. The hotel once sat at 1421 McGill College, but from looking at Google street view the building appears to be long gone.


There were plenty of postcards featuring the RCMP, including one titled: “Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Indian” (middle right).


These ones have a Canadian military theme. Some were mailed, sent out by an RCAF serviceman in 1941. I expect they were all printed during WWII.


I thought these were part of a set, but I realize now that the one on the right isn’t related to the other two. That one is the weirdest of the lot; its title is “begging lepers,” and the image is about what you’d expect.


My guess is that the real photograph postcards with handwritten (or hand-etched? I’m not sure how the script was added to the photos) descriptions tend to be more uncommon than the others. I’m not sure of that though, so if anyone knows better teach us a lesson in the comments! Most of these are from places in Quebec. The Chateau Frontenac postcard at the bottom is very cool, and might be worth listing on eBay.


Let’s finish up with these guys. On the left is a photo of a band (specifically, the Vancouver Kitsilano Boys’ Band) that apparently won something during the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. Their conductor was Arthur Delamont, who is notable enough to merit a Canadian Encyclopedia page.

On the right is a photo of Mount Eisenhower as taken by Byron Harmon, an early photographer of the Canadian Rockies. This postcard must have been printed between 1946 and 1979, because before and after those dates the peak was named Castle Mountain. Apparently the powers that be decided to rename it in honour of General Dwight D Eisenhower after WWII, but it didn’t go over particularly well with the general public.

Pretty cool collection eh? I like postcards because they’re like little windows into the past. They’re definitely fun to look through, especially when you find them in the trash and don’t know what you’re going to see next.

First class


Before we begin I’m going to advertise my last sale of the year! I’ll be at the Plant Holiday Art Market on December 12th between 12-6PM. Come by if you want to see an eccentric collection of garbage finds, including knick-knacks, jewelry, buttons, baubles, books, records, ephemera, bric-a-brac, and etcetera. There will be 24 other vendors as well, selling locally made prints, soaps, jewelry, perfumes, cards, knits, and lots of other great stuff. There will also be coffee, tea, and snacks. Check out the Facebook page for more information. The event will take place at 185 Van Horne in the Mile End.

And now, without further ado, your regularly scheduled programming…


I visited this spot in Upper Westmount each garbage day between June and September. Nearly every week I found loads of big black bags on the curb, most of which were stuffed with old papers. I saved a great collection of ephemera that altogether represented the life of an entire family. I doubt much was ever tossed in this household.

I keep an eye on garage sale listings. I’ll sometimes check to see if the people at these addresses toss things the week before or after the sale. This practice isn’t always fruitful but once in a while it pays off. I saw an ad for an estate sale at the house in September, a couple of months since I first started picking there. The pictures showed rooms full of antiques and other treasures, evidence of a life lived luxuriously. There was a bit out on the curb after the sale – mostly large, unspectacular furniture – but the best was long gone, and within two weeks there was no more trash to be found.

I found a nearly overwhelming amount of stuff, and plans to do a thorough cataloging of items were foiled by the reality: that I just didn’t have the time. Nonetheless, in this post I’ll share a selection of the coolest travel ephemera. I’ll show the rest in a not to distant future.


I very much enjoyed finding this old train ephemera. “The Canadian” still runs to this day, traversing the long and beautiful distance between Toronto and Vancouver. I actually took this train on two different occasions, though both times I missed out on what is likely the best part – the stretch between Jasper and Vancouver.

I found a program, a ticket holder, a ticket book, and a postcard, all of which are from the early 1960s. I’m pretty sure they’re still using the same train cars today.



Once there the family went to the Calgary Stampede. I saved a bunch of related ephemera, my favourite of which was this 1964 Riley and McCormick “Cowboy Catalogue.” It features Western styles and other cowboy related accessories.



I also rescued a paper hat and two cardboard fans made to advertise Calgary TV and radio stations.


They also went on at least one trip to Europe in the mid 50s. Here’s the travel insurance …


… and the International Driving Permit.


They crossed the ocean in the S.S. Liberté (first class, of course) and amassed a nice collection of mementos.


I saved a bunch of magazines (L’atlantique) that were apparently printed on the ship. They must have been a lot of work to put together.


One section is titled “latest news received by radio.” This edition features a bunch of Cold War era geopolitics, and also a story on the development of the wildly successful Polio vaccine.


I love finding old menus. This one is for an August 13, 1955 dinner on the Liberté.



While this one is from a restaurant in Nice.



There were tonnes of cool vintage maps, many of which I sold at yard sales. This one is my favourite though, because the artwork is excellent and because it conveniently folds out into the size of a nice poster (making it potentially cool as a decoration).


It was made by British Railways and portrays the British Isles. The artist was a guy by the name of Cecil Meyer.


I’ll finish with a couple of things from stores. This is a catalogue for Gubelin, a prestigious jewelry maker and retailer.


Unfortunately I didn’t find any fancy watches here! Though I did come across a certificate of authenticity for an 18k gold watch.


This is the 1950s equivalent of a promotional corporate email. The P. Marechal company (to which I can find no reference to on the internet) is offering their past customer a free bottle of Replique de Raphael.


Here’s the actual gift card …


… and this is their perfume price list. I figured the perfume aficionados among us might be curious to see what was on sale in 1956! I assume these prices are in based on the now defunct French franc.

I’ll share part two sometime in the coming weeks!

Social Credit


I came across this pile in Rosemont over two months ago now. I was busy at the time and put it all into storage, only recently getting the photos I needed to post about it. I remember the neighbour telling me that the things belonged to someone who had passed on.


I saved a whole bunch of books, most of which were published between the late 1800s and 1940s. The vast majority were French and many were Catholic writings. Based on my trash picking experience I’d guess that most Québécois families in that period owned similar books. These books have become anachronistic in post Quiet Revolution (circa 1960s) Quebec and are now being thrown out in droves.


I love old political ephemera and I very much enjoyed finding this old flyer, which is roughly the size of a postcard. It was made in 1962 for the Social Credit Party of Canada, a now defunct right-wing political party that was active between 1935 and 1988. It’s heyday seems to have come in the 1960s when they won a little over 11% of the vote in two different elections. The candidate being promoted is Robert Leblanc of Hochelaga, who ran in just this one election and won 9% of the vote.

The image itself is interesting in its total lack of subtlety. It portrays a bedridden fellow (marked clearly as Ottawa, the capital of Canada) who is sick despite being given the medicines of taxes and regulations. A doctor is offering him another medicine – a bottle of Social Credit – but the man refuses, saying that it could make him more ill. The bottom states that the system is very sick, and that “On n’a rien a perdre … essayons le credit social.” That translates pretty literally to “we have nothing to lose … try Social Credit.”


The other side portrays a bystander (labelled Social Credit) proposing to the owner of a broken down old jalopy that he change not the driver but the car itself. The owner (again labelled Ottawa) simply keeps switching between a red (Liberal) and blue (Progressive Conservative) driver when things break down instead of trying a whole new option. The tagline at the bottom reads: “If you like debts, taxes, and unemployment vote red or blue; if you’ve had enough … vote Leblanc.”


I took a few knick knacks, including a chalkware dog that was likely made in the 1930s; …


… a porcelain doll;


… and a very kitschy lamp. It’s marked as being made by Paragon, though I doubt it’s the same company that made many of the very nice teacups I found last year. Nonetheless, I did find a similar lamp that sold on eBay for over 100$.


Here are the rest of the noteworthy items. I really like the vintage souvenir flamingo thermometer on the far left. The old spatulas are pretty cool too. The Pope John Paul II pin is another one of those things I come across more in predominantly Québécois parts of town.


The glasses were the wire-rim type popular I think in the 30s and 40s. They’re not particularly exceptional, but I do appreciate the old Protectal logo; it features an image of the Sphinx wearing glasses.


I’m always a sucker for old baubles. My favourite of this bunch is the National Typewriter key-chain at center, which was likely made in the early 50s. To its left is a badge from 1969 likely given out by a company to reward a year without any accidents. To its right is a what looks to be a St Christopher pendant.

At bottom left is a Canadian centennial year (1967) pin. According to my mom nearly every Canadian living at this time had one of these. At bottom center is another pin apparently given out by the Soviet pavilion at Expo 67. One like it recently sold on eBay for 10$, which surprised me a bit as they seem to be fairly common. Finally, at bottom right is a token or medallion commemorating the 1950 Holy Year.


Here are the opposite sides of the items with noteworthy backs!

I visited the same spot for a couple more weeks but didn’t find anything of note. Again, I’m left to wonder if I missed out on some cool stuff in the weeks prior.