Treasures and memories: why yard sales are the best

T.P.T. ashtrayOkay, people, here is my latest yard-sale treasure. Put up your hand, right now, if you remember the T.P.T. (Toronto-Peterborough Transport Company Limited) freight line! Remember the big tractor-trailers with T.P.T. painted on the side, heading east or west on the 401 and many other smaller south/central/eastern Ontario highways besides? Why, I believe that I even remember a T.P.T. truck passing once (maybe more than once?) on the small country road on which my elementary school, Madoc Township Public School, was (and is) located. “It’s the T.P.T.!” a boy shouted; and we all caught the reference and recognized the logo on the side of the big truck.

Now, a brief search on the internet has landed me precisely zero information about the no-longer-extant Toronto-Peterborough Transport Company Limited. It was certainly a going concern, with lots of trucks and staff and whatnot, back in my youth here at the Manse in Queensborough. (Queensborough being just a little more than an hour’s drive away from one of the T.P.T.’s termini, Peterborough. Or “Peterboro,” as people used to sometimes spell it back in those days – when Queensborough was often “Queensboro.”) Doubtless that relatively small company was swallowed up by a much bigger one, as so often happens. And so the T.P.T. lives on only in some people’s memory.

Well – in some people’s memory, and also in the old-fashioned heavy-duty ashtray that I was thrilled to find at a yard sale last weekend! It was a tremendous yard sale, put on by the good folks at St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church in Madoc. (Possibly the only Presbyterian church in the whole world named after the founder of the Roman Catholic Church, but that’s a whole other story.)

Raymond and I hadn’t known in advance about the giant St. Peter’s yard sale, but were lucky enough to spot a poster for it at the One Stop Butcher Shop (best burgers ever) in downtown Madoc a mere half-hour before it was due to end at 2 p.m. You faithful readers all know (thanks to many posts, like those here and here and here and here) how much we love yard sales, and so you can surely imagine how speedily we zipped up St. Lawrence Street West in our little Toyota, hoping to find some treasures before the whole shebang shut down.

And we did! The T.P.T. ashtray being decidedly the best, if you ask me – even though the Manse is decidedly a non-smoking household. Just to see that old logo again, after all these years! And to think about the smoky 1960s/’70s trucking-company offices where that ashtray might have lived, and probably been overflowing with butts… And yes, I know I am one of the few people you can think of who gets nostalgic about overflowing 1960s ashtrays, but what can I say? Those days were golden, “toasted” Lucky Strikes and all. (Would the Canadian equivalent of Luckies be Sweet Caps, I wonder?)

What else did we find at the St. Peter’s yard sale? Well, I’m so glad you asked! Here is a photo showing most of the loot, though I should note that behind the Password game you see is yet another Password game (bonus!):

St. Peter's yard sale finds

(Oh, and there’s also this: the price tag on one of the two Password games. Apparently it was purchased for $1.99 at a store called Sayvette. Does anyone remember Sayvette? I have to say I do not; what do you know about it, readers?)


And here is a delightful find. Do you remember these? Of course you do! Every kitchen had one, for the bills and letters and postcards and shopping lists and whatnot. And now the Manse does too:

That thing for bills

All right, then. So much for last weekend’s yard-sale excitement. Now on to this weekend’s yard-sale excitement, which takes place in (you will probably not be surprised to know) – Queensborough!

QCC yard sale

Yes, this Saturday, June 13, the Queensborough Community Centre (our hamlet’s historic former one-room schoolhouse) is the place to be for a giant yard sale and barbecue. As you peruse all the wondrous items for sale, you will enjoy the aroma of peameal bacon and hamburgers (with fried onions, yum!) and hot dogs being barbecued by master chefs Raymond Brassard and Chris Whalen. You can also partake in homemade sweets and coffee. And you can enjoy just hanging out at a fun community event in beautiful downtown Queensborough!

And who knows? Perhaps you will find something as wonderfully nostalgic for you as was that T.P.T. ashtray for me. Finds like that, people, are what I call good stuff.

16 thoughts on “Treasures and memories: why yard sales are the best

  1. Hi stranger, glad to see your blog again!….yes my hand is UP….I remember TPT transport, in fact I think the Peterboro Petes Jr A hockey team were known as the Peterboro TPT’s in the late 1960s, hopefully someone will correct if I am wrong, and they always had strong teams…..Sayvette? why yes, that was a department store in the late 60s, similar to Woolworths but larger, one ( maybe the only one) was located in the Thorncliffe Plaza in the Leaside / Don Mills area of Toronto, that would be about 2 km south of the Ontario Science Centre, my grandparents lived in the area……..we will try to get to the Queensboro yard sale, I am still using the $2 solar panels I bought there a couple years back…..thanks for the blog

    • Hi Bob! As subsequent comments prove, you are absolutely correct in saying that the Peterborough Petes were once the TPTs. Who knew? Not me, that’s for sure. Now, you’ve intrigued me with your mention of a Sayvette in the Thorncliffe Plaza. Why? Because the Password game that my siblings and I had when I was a kid here at the Manse was purchased at the Thorncliffe Plaza, which was not far from where my maternal grandparents lived, in Leaside. (If I remember correctly, there was a big indoor fountain in that plaza, something I found quite wondrous as a small child.) Now I am wondering if my old Password game came from the same store as the one I just bought at the St. Peter’s yard sale. Wouldn’t that be a funny coincidence? Hey, maybe it’s the same game, just having been recycled through a few households in the interim!

  2. OHhhhhhhhh – the sale sounds wonderful. I wish we were closer. I KNOW there will be something there with my name on it! Oh dear 😦 another time, maybe. I hope you make tons of money, eat well and have a great time!

    ………..and, who knows?…….maybe one of the sellers will have a mysterious cardboard box under his/her table! A box that quivers a little and when you peek inside, some pansy-like faces of a darling “klutch o’ kitties” peers back at you and one of them mews……..”we hear you have a perfect home!”

    I remember Sayvette. That ashtray is a great find!

    • Sorry you can’t join us for the Queensborough Community Centre yard sale, Jane – you sound like you’d be an excellent customer and thus a fine addition to our fundraising venture! Oh dear, a box of kittens… Raymond and I have decided we’ll wait until a little later in the summer to get a new Manse Cat (or two) – but if I found myself face to face with some sweet wee kittens, I bet I’d be persuaded to act sooner!

      • My Brian says that’s the only reason the feline race not only survives, but flourishes.

        Kittens do have a way of weaselling into hearts.

        I AM an excellent customer at these sort of things. I’m the one gasping with excitement while long-suffering Brian selects one of two tactics. He either retreats to the car, with coffee, if possible or engages the most dubious looking person at the event in lengthy conversation. He usually ends up becoming fast friends with the person and an exchange of email addresses ensues. If this is a local event, the new person, without fail, turns out to be someone he knew 50 years ago or a distant cousin. Occasionally, he throws me a wild card, wades into the sale and buys something that is often 10x my yard sale budget.

        I really do wish I could come!

        Cheers Katherine! So nice to see you back.

      • Great yard-sale anecdotes, Jane! As it happens, at our Queensborough yard sale yesterday I (like Brian) managed to run into not one but two people I knew 50 – oh, okay, 40 – years ago. What fun!

  3. Kathleen, Haha! We donated so much stuff to St. Peter’s yard sale. It looks like you got a good handful of it. The T.P.T. ashtray came from another yard sale in Toronto several years ago. The Humpty Dumpty chip container, same thing. Did you get the old hats that were in it? We played those Password games til we knew the order of the words! The Grimms Fairytale book is only about 25 years old – baby gift that I would hate to think is an antique already, as would my son! Next time I’m clearing out, I’ll call you first.

  4. I remember a Sayvette Store in Scarborough, Lawrence Avenue and McCowan, I think, way back when! (1968-70) It was a Department Store that had some connection with the British Marks & Spencers. We bought our first B&W TV from that particular store!

    • Oh wow – a connection with Marks and Spencers! Now that’s interesting. Remember when we (fairly briefly, I think) had Marks and Spencers here in Canada? I’d quite forgotten that until now!

    • Interesting, Leslie! It seems Sayvette has lain buried in a lot of people’s memories! I’m a tiny bit puzzled why I don’t have any recollection of it – but if the stores were mainly in larger cities, that would explain it. The Queensborough-Madoc-Tweed area where I grew up is not exactly a large city!

  5. Hi Katherine
    Good to see you blogging again….
    Had to look up the Petes as that was one thing I remembered… Here ’tis…..

    History of the Peterborough Petes
    The Peterborough Petes, formerly the Kitchener Green Shirts, were officially born in Peterborough on October 1st, 1956 as a farm team for the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens. They played their first game on November 4th, 1956, against the Toronto Marlies, with the team’s first win occurring at the newly built Peterborough Memorial Centre on November 8th, 1956 against the St. Catharines Tee-Pees.
    They became known as the Peterborough Petes Hockey Club in 1966/67, but still adorned TPT on their sweaters, being sponsored by the Toronto Peterborough Transport Company. It was not until the 1974/75 season that fans saw the birth of the official “Petes” wearing the maroon and white and dropping the TPT and Montreal Canadiens colours.

  6. Don drove truck for TPT back before I knew him and he is quite sure that CN bought them out but didn’t remember what year as it was long after he left them to work for Hydro. Also TPT did sponsor the Petes 1956 to 1966.

    Good luck with the garage sale on Saturday.

    • Thanks, Barbara. It’s cool that Don has that T.P.T. connection! The yard sale was a lot of work, but it was great to see so many community members – some of whom still live (or weekend) here, some of whom did live here back in the day – show up on a glorious day for yard-sale treasures, good food, and most of all, conversation with old and new friends. A busy day in Queensborough!

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