‘tween Whitehorse & Skagway

I find old photos pretty regularly. The majority feature people and places that would be mainly of interest to the family who presumably tossed them. Others have broader appeal, and a rare few tempt me to scan them.

I found this collection last spring. They appear to have been shot by an RCAF airman who was stationed near Whitehorse around the end of WWII. The photos were likely sent with letters to his partner, who added an extra caption on one of the shots. The photos themselves are great, but its the captions that really make them special. They provide neat little windows into the local people & terrain, as well as the day-to-day life of a 20-something airman living up north.

I transcribed the captions as they were written. Anything in [brackets] is an interjection by me (often because I don’t know for sure what was written), and [sic] means the word was originally misspelled. The scans are of fairly high quality, so click on the picture and zoom in to see the finer details. I’ve also added links to some of the various places, people, and things mentioned in the captions.

I’d like the thanks my mom and sister for helping me with this little project. We all did it for free, so if you particularly enjoy this post consider donating to the blog (I’ll split any proceeds three ways). Otherwise, there’s still plenty of pictures without captions and stories to tell, so please feel free to share them in the comments!

Anyways, without further ado…

 

Bottom left: “Peace River District. Land around here is quite flat and is good for farming.”

Bottom middle: “Lancaster ‘Aries’ prior to take-off”

Middle left: “Lewes River [later renamed Yukon River] Whitehorse Yukon”

Top left: “Bob Calis + I, Fish Lake Yukon Aug ’45.”

Top center: “U.S.A.A.F. Norseman taxiing past Standard oil refining co for a take-off. July 45.”

Top right: “Lews’ [sic] River]

Middle right: “Rifle party for LAC Patrick McCanney, drowned in Lewes River Whitehorse Y.T. 11/8/45″ [There seems to be a notable discrepancy between the funeral date offered on these photos and the date of death (May 31 1945) I found online. I’m not sure why that would be, but perhaps there were reasons to delay the ceremony].

Bottom left: “L to R: Frank Braun, Dave Slobodian, Ear Lake Y.T. June 45″

Bottom right: “Whitehorse Y.T.”

Top left: “Bearer Party for Patrick McCanney 11/8/45”

Top right: “Japanese balloon bomb” [Interesting photo! These were the first intercontinental weapons, though they weren’t very effective].

Middle left: “Dave Slobodian, Frank Braun, Ear Lake Y.T. July 45”

Bottom left: “Peace River” [I spent a bit of time in the Peace region years ago. It’s quite nice.]

Bottom middle: “Nov 14/44, Edmonton Atla. [Rin?] Gassner, Louis Truly, Sam Moore.”

Bottom right: “Indian burial ground. Whealthier [sic] Indians build little shelters for over the graves”

Top left: “Indian village on shore of lake at Aishihik Y.T.”

Top right: “Klondike and Aksala awaiting turn at loading pier at Whitehorse.”

Middle left: “23/Sept/45, Miles Canyon Y.T.; L to R Bob Simpson, me, Jim Switzer”

Middle right: “Burial party for LAC Patrick McCanney. Drowned in Lewes River Whitehorse Y.T. 11/8/45.”

Bottom left: “Burial party for LAC Patrick (Irish) McCanney. Drowned in Lewes River Whitehorse Y.T. 11/8/45. (Firing Party)

Middle: “Climbing up to Alcan [I think short for Alaskan] highway from Miles Canyon, Yukon.”

Right: “Nov 14/44 Edmonton Alta.”

Top left: “Coming into Watson Lake Y.T. Visibility unlimited. Looks serene, but is the flying ever ropey [sic] around here. Lots of [down?]-drafts caused by high mts and deep valleys. Death valley N.W.T, few miles east of here.” [Death Valley likely refers to Deadmen Valley, an area in the Nahanni region that is subject to many legends.]

Middle left: “Halfway mark ‘tween Whitehorse + Skagway. Forget name of place off hand. Just a few shacks, one a trading post, and a small church. ‘Trail of the 98’ gold rush starts here. Note narrow gauge single track rails.”

Middle right: “This ship is beached at docks at Whitehorse. Used to be a smuggler (liquor) but Yanks threatened to sink her with gunfire if ever seen again in Alaskan waters. Used to have parties aboard. Infested with gophers.”

Bottom left: “Casca tied up at pier at Whitehorse, getting ready for trip up Lewes to Dawson City.”

Bottom right: “Indian boy at village. Lake La Barge [sic, probably Lake Laberge] Y.T. July ’45.”

Top left: “Dec/44 Whitehorse Yukon.”

Middle left: “Pete Thomas Dec/44”

Middle: “Champaign [sic, probably Champagne] Y.T.”

Top left: “Lews’ [sic] (Yukon) river.”

Top right: “Ear lake Yukon. Saw many mallards here. Tried a sten gun and .303 on ’em, but couldn’t hit the side of a barn door.”

Middle left: “Nov 14/44. Edmonton Alta. [Ain?] Gassner.”

Middle right (top): “Lake Carré St Faustin Que.”

Middle right (bottom): “Standard Oil refinery from air, Whitehorse Y.T.”

Bottom left: “Wild dog – Miles Canyon Yukon.”

Top left: “Sun. March 11/45.” [I’m not sure why I think this now, but when I found these I had the notion that the 113 address was right across the street from my old house on Villeneuve Ouest near St Urbain in the Mile End. If so, the other Montreal street view shots might have been taken nearby.]

Top right: “Bob Calis R.C.A.F. Station , Whitehorse Y.T.”

Bottom left: “American army ordnance butler huts in town of Whitehorse. Huts were completely wrecked when we tangled with Yanks. So were the Yanks.”

Top left: “Dead Man’s Rapids Y.T.”

Middle left: “Whitehorse Y.T.”

Middle right: “Benny, St Faustin Que”

Bottom left: “Lancaster ‘Aries’ preparing to take off from Whitehorse Y.T. on record breaking flight across the Magnetic North Pole to England. July ’45.”

Bottom right: “Burial party for LAC Patrick McCanney, drowned in Lewes River Whitehorse Y.T. 11/8/45.”

Top right: “Lews river [sic], looking down from the mess hall. W.H.” [In pencil, different handwriting] “Lee likes this one! Wish I were there.”

Middle left: “Indian Villiage [sic] from the ‘loon’ on Lake La Barge [sic]. June ’45” [Different pen, same writing?] “Good lake trout fishing here and lots of copper deposits in mts.”

Middle right: [Looks like a shot of Montreal from the top of Mount Royal].

Bottom left: “Burial party for Patrick McCanney 11/8/45.”

Bottom right: “The Aksala. Gasoline driven engines, drive paddle wheel. All supplies – Heavy machinery, non perishable foodstuffs, petroleum etc., move to Dawson by boat.”

Top right: “Standard Oil refining company from the Lewes River, July 45.”

Middle left: “Jennie Hoochie, Champaign [sic] Y.T.”

Bottom right: “Double rainbow after heavy rain. Never had any electrical storms. Must find out why.”

Top left: “Burial party for LAC Patrick (Irish) McCanney. Drowned in Lewes River 11/8/45. Whitehorse, Y.T.”

Top right: “Frank Braun, Dave Slobodian, Johnny Pilon. Ear Lake Y.T., June ’45.”

Middle left: “Indian burial ground at Champaign Yukon. All posetions [sic, possessions] are placed in grave with deceased.”

Bottom left: “Low ceiling Whitehorse looking west.”

Bottom right: “Bearer party for Patrick McCanney 11/8/45.”

Top left: “Dec/44 Whitehorse Yukon.”

Top middle: “Miles Canyon, Y.T. Lots of wild dogs round here.”

Middle: “Dave Slobodian, Frank Braun, Johnny Pilon; Ear Lake Y.T. June 45.”

Bottom left: “Alaska Highway, Summit B.C. Taken while hitch hiking hiway [sic]. Got lift with R.C.A.F. convoy for 900 miles. 3 days and 3 nights from Fort St John B.C. to Whitehorse Y.T.”

Top left: “The docks in winter. Building nearest ships (one with chimney) is [DONUT ?] restaurant. Lots of fights here. Mountie barracks off to right. Tough bunch.”

Top right: “Mar. 18/45.”

Middle left: “River boat rests at anchor on Lewes River Whitehorse Y.T. prior to long trip to Dawson City Y.T.”

Bottom left: “Taken by Ena Spinner on Aug/41. Corner Park + Mt. Royal.” [Not too far from where I live now]

Bottom right: “Nov. 8, 1943.”

Top left: “Somewhere in the States where I stopped to buy food for a picnic bench.”

Top right: “Aishihik Lake, Aishihik Y.T. Fell through ice here, while breaking trail hunting for grizzly. The boys pulled me out, and kept on going. Didn’t even catch cold. Am in good shape.”

Bottom right: “March 44.”

Top left: “Frank Braun, Johnny Pilon, me. Ear Lake, Y.T. July ’45.”

Top right: “Alaska Highway taken between Whitehorse and McRae [sic, probably MacRae].”

Middle left: “Taken 2:30A.M. in July. [?] taking off. Whitehorse.”

Middle right: “Whitehorse Y.T.”

Top left: “Dead Mans Rapids Y.T. Water very treacherous. Full of undertows and whirlpools. Lots of people lost lives here. Pat did too, just a few miles south of here. Was on his funeral party (firing). Had chance to go home to Ireland aboard the ‘Aries’ via the North Pole (first true magnetic flight in history) the day before, but refused.” [Based upon the information given in other captions we can assume that Dead Mans Rapids is a particular hazardous stretch of the Yukon River).

Top right: “L to R: Frank Braun, Dave Slobodian, Johnny Pilon. Whitehorse Y.T. July 45.”

Middle right: “Town of Whitehorse Y.T. American military establishment on right (#6 Service Command, 1462nd Squadron, Red Cross Hostel, Hospitals, CPA bldgs, etc) at left residential + commercial bldgs.”

Bottom left: “Burial Party for Patrick McCanney 11/8/45.”

 

Bordeaux-Cartierville pt. 2

Here’s some finds from one of my best spots of 2018. It started with lots of quality housewares and silver plated items, most of which went straight to the auction house. You can see a few of those finds below, but I know there was lots more I lost track of.

That brass coffee mill was a nice piece, it was made in Greece and sold for 40$. The tall glass & silver plate pitcher sold for 44$. Silver plated lots like the one at bottom right do pretty well at the local auction, which is good because the individual pieces are rarely worth listing on eBay (due to their size / high shipping costs) and are a pain to get good money for at yard sales.

My most profitable finds came later on, towards the end of the spot’s productive streak. One day I opened up a bag and saw a jewelry box.

The contents looked to have been picked over but there was still plenty of good stuff left for me.

Most of my profit will come from those tie clips at bottom left – both are Italian 18k gold and together they’re worth about 300$ in scrap. You can see the hallmarks in the picture below! All the pieces to the left of the knife are either silver or gold excepting the large penny (the other coin is a silver 50 cent piece). The knife is actually a souvenir Cretan dagger, the blade isn’t particularly well crafted but the sheath is 93.5% silver. I found the exact same one a few years ago in Montreal West and sold it on eBay for 25$. I think I’ll ask for a little bit more this time around.

That bag was great, but this one ended up being more notable. It looked like someone just took a junk drawer and simply dumped the contents inside. There was a lot of crap in there (mostly boring papers), but I could tell that there were some potentially valuable smalls hanging around near the bottom of the bag. I took the whole thing to the car for closer examination.

I found a bunch of stamps, a couple of broken gold chains, and an unusual tobacco pipe with some kind of decorative metal encasement (please share any information you might have about its origins!). However, the most valuable thing pictured is the watch strap.

The buckle was 18k gold and had similar markings to the Patek Philippe buckle I found a few years ago and sold for 650$. This one lacks the “PPd” hallmark, but apparently the “AW” company also did work for other luxury Swiss brands like Vacheron Constantin and Omega. Fortunately for me many hardcore watch collectors seek out only original parts even down to the lowly buckle. As a result, this one sold fairly quickly for 400$.

That bag also held a nearly unbelievable find…

… this wad of cash! American money at that. The stash was held together with a white paper clip and I’d guess the people just didn’t notice it when dumping out the drawer. The found bills totaled 307$, which turned into nearly 400$ when I traded it in at the bank. This is easily my best cash find to date – my previous best was the 140$ I found in the pockets of trashed shirts earlier this year. Before that my record was the 27$ I found way back in 2013. It’s funny how finds like these sometimes happen in bunches.

That wasn’t it for the cash though. I also found an old wallet, inside of which was 21$ in old bills. The folks doing the tossing clearly didn’t possess great attention to detail. The house was sold, so perhaps they were just in a rush. Either way, as you can tell this spot did me quite well! Here’s hoping I keep finding cash in 2019.

Soon enough I’ll share my year in review / top finds of 2018. I was so swamped this summer that a few of my best finds didn’t even make the blog, so you’re bound to be surprised by at least a few things.

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Pickin’ from the bottom of the bag

Longtime readers know that the smallest treasures often make their way to the bottom of the trash bag. One of my best finds recently was in St Michel where someone decided to dump a jewelry box (and seemingly all its contents) into the trash along with the pizza crusts. I threw the bag in the car for later sorting because I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

(Sidenote: I happened to be followed by a photographer that day. He was taking pictures for an upcoming interview in a local magazine, and I’m glad I actually found something of value in the short time we had available! Usually I end up having to feign interest in a junky pile just to get a good shot. I’ll share the interview here when it’s out).

By scrounging amongst the crusts I was able to refill the jewelry box. Some pieces were indeed worthy of the trash, but most were not and some will end up being fairly valuable.

These tie pins were likely a service award given out by the Steinberg’s supermarket chain that operated from 1917 to 1992. One is silver and the one with the ruby is 10k gold. I brought these to the auction house – Steinberg’s was a Montreal institution for many years, so the name invokes a lot of nostalgia (and hopefully many bids).

Speaking of nostalgia, I also found these cool “Man and his World” Expo 67 cufflinks. They’re in pretty good condition, and I expect them to sell for around 50-60$.

Here’s the best of the costume stuff. I really like that leaf brooch but unfortunately it’s unsigned. I’m mildly hopeful that the bracelet on the right is unsigned gold but that’s probably wishful thinking.

Finally, here’s the stuff that’s marked as silver or gold. There’s three Air Canada service pins on the left, all of which are sterling silver (the latter two might be gold plated as well). The religious medallions on the bottom right are 18k gold, as is the bowtie brooch above it. Overall this was an awesome haul, and I expect that it’ll earn me four figures once it’s all processed!

I haven’t seen much here (besides a box of nice German crystal since). I’ll try to keep an eye on the situation, but I’m also planning on retiring the St Michel route for a while – it hasn’t been productive for a few weeks now.

I saved these items from the bottom of a bag in Hampstead. There’s a mini bottle of Christian Dior’s Eau Sauvage, a few coins, two pocket knives, a pipe reamer, a couple pins and a single bracelet link that I hope is gold. That Heil piece is actually a measuring tape made by the Zippo company, I’ve never seen such a thing previously.

I actually went to an estate sale at this place a couple weeks later. They might have made a few extra bucks if they put this stuff in a box and said “make an offer,” but I guess throwing things away helps to make the process a little less stressful. Or, maybe they legitimately thought that these items had no value. Who knows.

A bag in TMR contained: around 25 coins, a few of which date back to the early 1900s; a WWII food ration token; a couple of vintage bracelets (I particularly like the orange one – the beads don’t seem to be bakelite but are probably a different type of old plastic); a single gold earrings; two chains I hope are gold; 10 Hong Kong dollars from 1985; and a few other doodads.

Finally, I took a look at this trash while walking around my neighbourhood the other day. I kicked a bag and heard the familiar sound of coins.

There was indeed a sizeable collection of mostly foreign coins at the bottom of the bag. I gathered them all into that empty plastic cup at the top of the photo and brought them home for sorting.

Here’s a video of me dumping the haul into the light box. The coins aren’t worth much individually, but once I amass a big collection I can sell them at the auction house.

From all that I spotted three pieces of note: a 1945 Venezuelan 1/2 Bolivar (silver), a 1951 Canadian dime (also silver), and an old looking (brass?) button marked “Republique d’Haiti” featuring an image of a cannon. I couldn’t find any other buttons like it below, so if you happen to know something about it please share in the comments!

In other news I’ve been quite busy basically re-organizing my whole business with the auction house in mind. I’ve cleared all the random junk I’d never have time to deal with from the basement, sorted through and organized the junk in my garage and storage, purged my stash of clothes and brought a bunch to a local consignment shop, and all the the while found more garbage that I have to deal with! At some point the work should slow down and I’ll have more time to blog. This summer has been great for picking and I’ll try to share more of those finds here soon.

If the weather is good I plan on doing a yard sale this Saturday at my storage (4096 Coloniale near Duluth). I want to clear out a bunch of stuff and maybe you (and the university kids who are now returning for the fall semester) can help! I’ll start around 11am, and if it doesn’t work out for whatever reason I’ll edit this post to reflect that. Perhaps check back Friday evening just to be sure – if I have to cancel I’ll add a notice in bold below.

Links

1. Facebook page
2. My eBay listings, Sign up for eBay, Search for something you want / research something you have
3. Help me pay off student loan debt / Contribute to the blog
4. Follow me on Instagram