The Weird and Wonderful of the Great Glebe Garage Sale
All photos by Andre Gagne
“Is that a genuine stuffed platypus?” “What’s the point of selling a Vulcan without any fingers?” “Pennies only exist now in myth and legend.” “I’d buy it if it wasn’t naked.” These are just only a few things you may have heard today while wandering through the maze of voluminous stuff that is the Great Glebe Garage Sale.
Since 1986, the multi-block event continues to attract thousands of bargain hunters to the neighbourhood looking for the rare, the needed and, often, the absurd. Despite a heat warning from Environment Canada with temperatures raising up into the scorching 30’s, the crowd began to arrive early in the morning searching through boxes, skimming over blankets strewn out on lawns and peaking inside area churches and community centres.
“You can find absolutely everything and anything! You can get lost in this beautiful community,” said Karina Boucher who scored some antique chairs, one of the only things she was searching for, early on. Having sold off her original dining room chairs at, go figure, a garage sale, the new/old one’s snagged for under $15 apiece are sure to come in handy.
Walking up even one stretch of the neighbourhood during the garage sale may seem overwhelming. A glance to the left may reveal a table full of shoes to pick through or a couple of clothing racks to peruse, a look to the right and you’ll discover bins of records, DVDs, comics and vintage toys. Furniture, canoes and even a car were up for grabs. There was that giant olive, that strange chair filled with doll heads and books, so many books. Where to begin? How much time should you spend in one area? It can be a lot to take in.
Of course, making a game out of a hunt that can take hours is certainly one way to pass the time productively. Take the Jeffery family, for instance. Kathleen and Tom have been coming up from Sudbury with family and friends for the last few years for their annual Great Glebe Scavenger Hunt.
“We make a list of odd items to look for during the sale and if you find the item you take a photo of it and check it off the list,” said Kathleen holding up an old birdcage. “Whoever finds the most items wins the hunt.”
Some of the family’s 50 listed items this year were crutches, anything to do with Elvis, a lava lamp, a sombrero and a toilet seat.
When needing a break, you can always take in performances by local musicians like Yura Sisa or the Sam Steel Band, who perform from spots on corners or porches. Ki Herzog-hara decided to turn a little busking into a fundraising stop.
“We are creating sort of a busking stand where we invite people up to sing in a kind of a spur of the moment seize the day today thing! When they go home they can say they sang at a garage sale. The point is people would donate money, like they do for buskers, and all the money we raised would be donated to Ottawa Centre Refugee Action,” says Herzog-hara, explaining that all funds raised by her group of volunteers goes to support and sponsor 12 refugee families.
Mike Courtright, spotted with a friend carrying a full sized park bench down the street, snagged a find he didn’t even to pay for.
“It was a freebie! We needed another place to sit in our backyard and this will make it a lot easier to have cocktail parties, especially the ones we plan to have when we get home,” Courtright said assuring that he didn’t pick up the bench from a local park. In fact, while sitting on the free bench he was nearly chased off by the owner who thought he was trying to take a nap.
While those like Courtright are thinking about the relaxing present, people like Lindsay St. Germain were looking at a find with future ramifications. Discovering a whole table of vintage collectible cards, she instantly scooped up some choice packs, still sealed, thinking that in 50 years’ time they could be worth something for her young son.
Perhaps the two oddest items up for grabs today leaned towards a bit of the macabre. Smile beaming, Grant Jeffery proudly strolled up Bank Street carrying a Ouija board.
“I’ve been using it to shield myself from the sun because it is wicked hot out here,” Jeffery said. It’s his second and he hopes to find another next year. He adds that he’s had some success in contacting Dolly the Sheep with his previous board. With this one, however, he hopes to summon some passengers on the Titanic. “They need to talk, right?”
If ever you wanted to throw a voodoo party, Andrea Sirman had exactly what you were looking for with her Voodoo Party in a Box. With a collection of candles, beads, fake chickens, wigs, snakes and more, the former New Orleans dweller said it was time to pass along the party to somebody else.
“It was a great party,” she said, “but one voodoo party is enough for me.”
If you missed today’s sales have no fear. Stragglers and scavengers can often pick up leftovers for free in curb side boxes. If anybody spots that Voodoo Party in a Box pick it up for me. I really should have snagged that one!