One Man’s Garbage is Another Man’s Art Project

It seems that there just isn’t any such thing as open dumps anymore! Of course, I’m talking about open garbage dumps… they don’t seem to exist anymore… anywhere! I suppose that this is a good thing, seeing as the open dump concept isn’t very environmentally friendly, but it’s also a little sad, in a way. I used to love taking our bi-monthly trip to the old country dump.

When I was a child we lived in North Gower, Ontario… “Pierces Corners” to be exact, which at the time was little more than a crossroads situated way, way out in the middle of nowhere. We were so remote, in fact, that we drank well-water, collected our own breakfast from the chicken coup every morning, and even had a party-line system telephone that we shared with about four or five other nearby houses. There was no T.V., save for a single, very fuzzy channel that could be picked up over the air. In the winter months the fastest and most often used mode of transportation was snowmobile, followed by cross-country skis. And yes, we had to dump our own garbage.

Every two weeks or so we would load up our truck with the garbage that had been collecting over the past little while and take a short ride to the county dump. Our trip to the garbage dump however always had a greater purpose than simply being to discard our refuse. Sometimes our trip to the dump involved ridding the world of the much-loathed scourge of the evil dump-rat with our new .22 caliber rifles. Sometimes our trip was about testing new explosive devices… namely old aerosol cans, which go off like grenades when tossed into a raging dump fire! But mostly our trips to the dump were treasure hunts. It is truly amazing what some people throw out! One time, I found a box full of very old books. There must have been a dozen or so books in that box, all approaching, or slightly more than one-hundred years old, and all in close to pristine condition. I still have those books; they are all now over one hundred years old and are still in close to pristine condition. The original printing dates range from the 1890’s to about 1905. It was an amazing find.

So, recently, I had an idea for a new art project, but in order to realize this new project I was going to need a serious amount of junk. More precisely, I would need small pieces of metal, wood and plastic. Items which, on their own, weren’t readily identifiable, but definitely looked as if they had had a purpose at one time. Now, I realize that there are scrap yards where I could go and walk away with a ton of exactly what I was looking for, but like any good artist, I didn’t want to pay for the stuff. So, I thought about those long-ago trips to the dump and how perfect that would be. The dump used to always be full of exactly the type of thing that I was looking for.

But, guess what! Those old dumps just don’t seem to exist anymore… ANYWHERE! I looked all over the Internet for information on any old open garbage dumps that might be located anywhere within about an hour or two’s drive from my house. Nothing! I asked just about everyone I knew if they knew of such a place that was still accessible. Nothing! So, I got in my car and set out to find that old garbage dump that we used to use somewhere around Pierces Corners, just a short trip down Roger Stevens drive, past the beautiful country town of North Gower, Ontario.

It had been about 20 years or so since I had made the last trip to the dump, but I still had a vague recollection of where it might have been. I knew that it wasn’t too far from my old house, and since there were only a total of about 4 or 5 roads located within a 20 minute drive of that old house, all I had to do was drive down everyone of them. Well, I blew a tank of gas and searched for hours, but I had no luck. I couldn’t find it. I found one location that I thought might have been the dump at one time, but it seemed that it was private property now.

In fact, I found about 4 or 5 spots that looked like good candidates. I even found one spot where I could see a pile of old tires, glass bottles and rusted metal cans off in the distance, through the trees. I kept wanting to pull the car over, get out, and take a short walk into the woods to see if the massive garbage pile was still there, just a few yards behind the trees, obscured from view.  But, every few yards along the road-way were posted ‘No Trespassing’ signs. Many of them were handwritten in large red letters, ending in multiple exclamation points. People sure are protective of their lands around there. The temptation to ignore the posted notices was great, but I respect other people’s property and if they don’t want me on their land, I’m not going to go on it without permission. It’s their land and they make the rules, just like I make the rules on my land and wouldn’t want other people violating my wishes.

And so, no dump. I couldn’t find it. In fact, I couldn’t find any open, publicly accessible dump anywhere in the rural areas of the Ottawa valley. So, it looks like the idea for another great art project is doomed to death. It’s a real shame.

Does anyone know of any open dumps still in existence and publicly accessible anywhere in the Ottawa area? If there are still some somewhere, I’d greatly appreciate it if you could let me know! Please E-mail me with info. And/or directions at: [email protected] If you’d like, I’ll give you a free piece of ‘garbage-art’ if the information pans out.

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