The day after Moving Day

From July 1, 2008

Anyone who wants to understand the vast excess of western society need only walk around anywhere in Montreal on July 1. There, you’ll find discarded furniture, empty boxes and lots and lots of garbage.

What gets me most about it, though, is the thought that before today, people had these things in their homes. Now it’s so useless even people walking the streets want nothing to do with them.

This is a post about Moving Day told in photos.

In the three apartments I’ve lived in, only the current one involves climbing stairs. The stairs themselves aren’t as difficult if they’re in short, half-storey bursts and don’t require any tight turns. Unfortunately, many of the city’s winding outdoor staircases don’t have landings and make life difficult for movers.

For those unwilling to take their junk with them, there’s always the hope that someone else might buy it off of you. Here, an impromptu yard sale on July 1.

Parking on a busy street is difficult to get, and so many residents resort to putting chairs in the street as if to “reserve” the space for their coming truck. It’s illegal, of course, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Others have similarly imaginative ways of getting trucks near their destinations. Some park diagonally, on the sidewalk. Others ignore the law, like this truck which is parked at a bus stop and is completely blocking the sidewalk with its ramp.

You know, when you’re dumping garbage in an alley, it’s probably best not to do so right under the sign that says you’re not supposed to do that:

While most people are considerate enough to put their small pieces of garbage in bags, cans or boxes…

… others just assume the garbage man will clean their stuff for them, I suppose.

Yes, that’s three television sets. At least two of which were probably made before I was born.

Someone threw out Titanic!

Someone clearly had fun with this before he put it outside.

UPDATE: It’ll be a while before it’s all picked up.

UPDATE (July 4): Chris DeWolf has some comments about the phenomenon at Spacing Montreal, describing it as a used furniture free-for-all. It’s true there are some nice finds out there (I’d have picked up a coffee table if I knew of a way to drag it home), but I’d be happier if those rare finds weren’t covered in garbage.

9 thoughts on “The day after Moving Day

  1. Christelle

    Thanks for that photofull post, I missed moving day this year! It’s always good fun to watch around the ‘hood as people go from one house to the next! :D

  2. Christian

    The picture with trash on the ground just makes me angry…

    People are unable to plan its waste management ahead of time. If the recycle bin is full or if they move, they just dump their stuff in the street in a hurry. It’s even worse in the rich neighborhoods where the owners generally won’t bother to at least try to sell or give away items that are still in great condition (including that Richard Bachman book). Some kind souls will sometimes pick them up and try to find a second use for them, but that’s not enough.

  3. Shawn

    Great photos. Got me thinking as I walked around today, looking at the piles of stuff, here and there.

    In my neighbourhood, at least, there are people who scavenge stuff left out, so much of the useful goods don’t end up in the trash…

  4. BdgBill

    I moved to Montreal in 2003 with whatever I could fit in a Jeep Wrangler (which wasn’t much). I spent a couple of months living with the Ikea futon I bought when I arrived and a 19 inch TV sitting on top of the box it came in as my only furnishings.

    Then moving day came! By the end of one glorious week I had a coffee table, an entertainment center, a desk, book shelves (and books), several lamps and an Ikea dresser in perfect condition. Most of this stuff was grabbed next to the elevator in the basement of my building and had never been outside.

    I’m sure there is a larger “recycling” element to moving day then many people realize. I was very grateful for the stuff I found and got a couple of years of use out of most of it.

  5. Chris

    I wasn’t planning on moving on Moving day but my friend offered his truck so I took some stuff. Afterwards, I walked around my new neighbourhood and found a bunch of mugs and glasses, a semi broken but fixable granny cart, a large desk top which will be put on two large wooden boxes I also found to make more counterspace, a dresser, a bowl with a small chip in it and some flower pots! Great find considering I only walked around the blocks surrounding my apartment.

    I think I saw that same smashed computer monitor n the last photo. Was it on Christophe-Colombe in Villeray?

    All I need to find now is a fridge and someone to carry it up three flights of narrow stairs!

  6. lagatta

    The TVs are on St-Denis between Gounod and Jarry (Marché Richelieu in background). The first pic is just north of Faillon, east side (one can see the former Chinese hospital on the other side of the street). If I recall, the removals truck is just south of Villeray, and the alley full of rubbish despite the sign seems perpendicular to Castelnau east, between Drolet and Lajeunesse (distinctive renovated building in background).

    I have a perfectly good (but massive) PowerMac monitor to give away, and can’t carry it to Renaissance Montréal. Any ideas other than dumping it in the street? I have no car, and few friends have one.

  7. Renée

    I can’t help but wonder if, with a little communication, creativity and effort, this phenomenon could turn into a community-oriented stuff-swap event. Kind of like how Freecycle works, but perhaps more organized and time-specific.

    I wouldn’t know how to organize such a thing but I would be very interested in brainstorming with like-minded individuals about this, and see where it takes us by July 2009!

    If anyone is interested in throwing some ideas around, email me at


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