Monthly Archives: June 2017

The $5 Treasure Hunt

I love auctions. I love the smell of old books and finding an undiscovered piece of porcelain and the bottom of a dusty box in a dark corner of an estate sale. I love a new discovery, specifically one with a story attached. I have always been a history buff. Stories thrill me – how and why and where and when things happened is a puzzle I love to piece together. I thought this summer I would chronicle my adventures in treasure hunting as a way to keep a record myself but also to share my hunt with others. So please check back in, stay tuned and follow my blog as I share my weekly adventures treasure hunting for under $5!


The week that started the challenge.

In a simple room, bathed in natural light from the warm summer evening outside were boxes and tables and cupboards stacked with knicks and knacks, forks and pots, books and light bulbs. Every room in the small wartime home had been emptied into the front room, piled on 75 year old hardwood. Estate sales are bittersweet. There is the obvious sadness – a family’s final measure to let go and say goodbye but also the relief of being able to leave another footnote of grief behind. Whenever there’s an auction I like to spend some time speaking with our hosts. I like to think there’s a measure of comfort in it – reassuring them that we will treat these items, sentimental or otherwise with great respect and in 2 or 4 or 6 hours we will be out of their space, the home will be empty and a new chapter will begin.  There is a memorial quality to an estate sale. Often, especially in small towns, they are a gathering for friends and neighbours. There are shared stories and a laugh or two as folks gather to say a final informal farewell and take a memento of their friend along with them. Perhaps a neighbour shared weekly coffee and that one gold inlay porcelain tea pot brings a happy memory to them whenever they use it. There’s something comforting knowing that the item will be cherished and result in a warm embracing memory of the one they lost. Even if the item is purchased by a stranger – being able to see them, meet them, perhaps hearing their plan for the object can be rejuvenating – a sort of reincarnation.

On this particular evening my colleagues and I emptied that front room onto tables in the front lawn. Visitors checked in at the desk and got a bidding card and the evening got underway. $1, $2, $10 – one item and in some cases boxes of items was raised, described and purchased in swift measure. Cups and plates, Tupperware and suitcases, things I wasn’t quite sure I could identify and some I thought that I might be inclined to use at home. 5, 10, 30 minutes passed and I hesitated and waited and didn’t bid on the $5 knife block and $2 Children’s books. Suddenly something caught my eye and my heart sped up a little. A large brown book with tattered pages and worn binding. Did I mention I LOVE old books? It was a bible and I bid. $2. No one else felt for it the way I did so I gathered it up and was visibly giddy I’m sure about my find. It was, as it turned out, the family bible. 200 years old and full of entries and stories about the Schram, Burgess and  Davis families. How they settled on 400 acres outside what is now Thorndale Ontario when they arrived in Canada from Ireland. There were pressed flowers, newspaper articles from the 30s, Birthday cards and baby shower invitations, Church bulletins and census registration cards from 1918. There was a story clipped about Al Capone and I read the classified from 1937 where I could have gotten a 7 room house with a fireplace for $27/month. I spent 4 hours reading, taking photos and researching. I found the church (still in operation) and sent them an email to share these wonderful finds with. Bulletins from 1913, 1938, 1942 and a little bit of history on the family that started the parish, donated the land for the cemetery and also served over the generations as Reverend’s and missionaries.

I continue to uncover and unlock mysteries. is  my friend these days and instead of model trains or video games or painting in the yard…my hobby has become finding out more about these people who, 2 weeks ago, I had never even heard of.

Until next time…and another $5 treasure.

CP Social Notes – HOMETOWN NEWS – July 2017

Well parents – it’s finally here – summer vacation and if you’re like me then you’re starting to think what on earth these little people are going to do for the next 2 months! Whether you have the whole clan kicking around the house every day this summer or you just have a day off here and there I thought it might be fun to start a list of some things to do. Consider it like Cole’s Notes for summer – the moment someone utters the words “I’m bored” or you just have to get out of the house – grab the list and have the littles pick a number from 1-10 and GO! Whether these are classics in your parental play book or new twists I hope that you enjoy some of my personal favourites:

  1. Road Trip – This is our go to summer day idea, in fact we keep the van pre-packed in the summer with a bag of spare clothes for everyone, towels, swim suits and a bucket of random outdoor toys. We pack a cooler with drinks and snacks and sometimes add the little propane grill and we head out. This is where it gets fun – we just drive. You never know where you might end up or what cool new hang out you might discover. We sample new chip trucks, enjoy hidden beaches, fish at different lock stations, hike the many area trails and try every playground along the way.
  2. Eat Your Heart Out – Summer in Lanark County is a mine field of Farmer’s Markets, Pick your own Farms and Country Farm Stores. Head out and pick up lunch on the way. A great way for the family to explore where their food comes from and help out local food producers at the same time. An added bonus is an impromptu petting zoo if you find one with animals.
  3. Backyard Camp Out – Not a camper? Not to worry – have all the fun of novice camping with a backyard camp out. Put the tent up next to the sand box or kiddie pool for the true campsite feel. Most towns allow small enclosed fire pits so you can even have a proper campfire and let’s not forget SMORES! Add some dollar store glow sticks and keep the party going after lights out.
  4. Fair Days Ahead – It’s the season of the county fair! Pair that with countless area Canada 150 celebrations and annual festivals, car shows and concerts and it’s hard to have a boring weekend. Pull out the Hometown News Event Calendar for the month and pin it to the fridge for ideas.
  5. Paperback Writer – Nurture your inner Shakespeare by helping your budding novelist write their first book, short story or poem. Too young? Create a summer reading list theme or record your little one’s masterpiece as they dictate. Get to know your local library! They have free activities throughout the summer so check out their websites to find out about story times, dress up days, Lego drop ins and more!
  6. Budding Entrepreneurs – Do something nice for others and have the kids raise a little money for a local charity through hosting a Lemonade Stand, Yard Sale, Bake Sale or Art Show. Not only is it fun, it is a great way for kids to amp up their math and counting skills, customer service know how and of course be charitable. If your children are older why not start a summer business – mowing lawns, weeding gardens or helping clean out a shed or two.
  7. Take a Walk Down Memory Lane – History comes alive in the small communities dotting Lanark County. You may think “my kid isn’t going to be interested” but often you’d be surprised. Learning about the heritage buildings, doing the Carleton Place Mural Tour or visiting small local museums (like Heritage House in Smiths Falls or The Carleton Place & Beckwith Heritage Museum) are a great way to spend a few hours. There are no better stories then the real ones and our communities are full of tales of intrigue and mystery, and they can even learn about their own ancestors along the way. If you’re looking to explore some larger museums then visit your local library to check out the free family passes for most of the most popular ones in the National Capital region.
  8. Lights, Camera, Action! – Make it a movie night by visiting the Port Elmsely Drive In, complete with onsite food this is an affordable way to spend a warm summer evening (Fun tip – bring a quick pop up tent or screen to ward off any bugs and a few chairs and enjoy the movie outside the car). If the Drive in isn’t your scene, most of our area communities have Movies in the Park throughout the summer – Movies under the Stars starts on June 29th in Smiths Falls and includes snacks and special themed activities too! If home is more your speed hang a sheet or use the back wall of your house to set up your own drive in. A simple projector and some plug and play speakers and your set for a summer of movie nights at home.
  9. Art in the Park– Summer is my favourite time of year for arts and crafts, mostly because the mess can stay outside but also because there is a wealth of new material to create with. Art journaling is great and your kids can start a scrap book of summer adventures. Have them dedicate a page to each day out and fill it with drawings, memories and bits collected on the way.
  10. Hunt On – Summer is the season of Auction Sales, Flea Markets and Garage Sales. Why not spend a Saturday on a special kind of treasure hunt. Have everyone in your house take $5-$10 and see what they can find for their budget. Have a little Show N Tell at the end of the day to see what deals everyone found and why they choose them. I snagged a 200 year old Family bible last Saturday at an auction for $2.00!! It really is fun for all ages!