04 Apr
Hunting for Treasure


There is something about getting away from home that allows my entrepreneurial husband to get back in touch with his exploratory nature. Having spent decades in retail, he isn’t one to browse a mall for any length of time, but he does love to look for treasures with history.

One of our favourite holiday activities is digging around in second-hand bookstores, antique emporiums, or new-to-you shops. My husband is a discerning treasure hunter. He wanders quietly, looking under and behind displays. His face takes on an expression of complete concentration. I have seen the same look on my grandson’s face, as he builds Lego. 

My husband searches for old wooden objects and handmade toys. He loves miniature items with working parts. Inevitably he has to reach into his pocket for his glasses, to enable him to see little hinges, or read labels.

I, on the other hand, search for china teacups with unique patterns, interesting jewellery, and magazines from the 50s and 60s. I think of the lives of the women who previously sipped tea from the cups. In old magazines, the recipes and the ads for products that I vaguely remember, fascinate me. 

Our search can take up half an hour. It is often difficult to find each other among the shelves of musty smelling stock, so we usually wander near the cash register when we are finished. We compare our finds, and this often triggers a discussion about our favourite childhood items and occasionally leads to one more walk about. 

The treasured items retain their magic because we leave them at the family vacation home. This way we can rediscover them each time we visit. We have repaired some of our treasures. We still search for a use for some items. Most of all, we love to watch the grandchildren discover the items, here and there, around our place. There are little wooden wine glasses, in cylinders, no bigger than my thumb. There are mystery boxes with hidden compartments. There are wooden animals that open.

My husband’s most recent find is a puzzle where the user must somehow get the bead-on-a-circle-of-rope off a line of connected posts. One day, over lunch, I managed to do that, and then we wondered if the game might have been to get it onto the poles. Oh, how we love a mystery. Then there is a heavy wooden block containing many holes, which might have been a message box for a hotel desk. We have used it to hold votive candles, to sort pencils, and to park Matchbox Series vehicles. The mystery will someday be solved, I am sure.


I recently purchased an amazing treasure, and I didn’t even realize it at the time. I picked up a Canadian Home Journal from June 1958, which originally cost ten cents. I was drawn to an article titled, Suburbia’s a Bore for Children. The magazine also contained an interesting summer recipe section and an ad for face powder known as Yardley’s Feather Finish. When I arrived home, I discovered the treasure within the treasure….

Would you believe this issue contained an announcement from the publisher, informing the readers that the Canadian Home Journal had been sold to the Maclean-Hunter organization and was to be merged with Chatelaine magazine? I now own a copy of the last issue of the Canadian Home Journal ever published. That may be important only to the likes of me, but I feel the anguish the publishers and editors of the Canadian Home Journal must have felt. They gave up their magazine, and their vision for it, to be merged into oblivion.  

I plan to give my grandchildren each five dollars and let them loose in my favourite new-to-you store, just to see what they purchase. As my mother-in-law frequently says, “You don’t know what you need, until you see it!” That’s a rule to remember, regardless of your age.





Comments (6)

  • Maureen Haddock
    April 17, 2014 at 08:58 pm

    Thanks Helen, Isabelle, Amanda, Catie, and Jasmin for adding your thoughts to this blog! It is wonderful to know that other people love old things, but also have to part with them. Catie, I love the idea of letting go of something so it can have a new life in a new place. I feel an allegory coming on. Thanks again!

  • Jasmine Hughes
    April 17, 2014 at 07:50 pm

    "I thrift... therefore I am"! Great to read your musings on second-hand shopping.

  • Catie Berg
    April 9, 2014 at 04:48 pm

    Loved the post. I too, love a store to explore. Treasures with history, stories to tell, and items that were once loved, and used. But as with all things in life, time passes, and needs change, and treasures then have to move on... hopefully, to take on a new life in a new place, to be loved and used again! I find the box in the last picture interesting. Reminds me a child’s game from long ago. Regards, Catie

  • Amanda Soulodre
    April 9, 2014 at 02:38 pm

    What an amazing magazine find Maureen! I love vintage magazines for the ads as well. I find it all so fascinating!

  • Isabelle Mills
    April 4, 2014 at 08:09 pm

    I think this cookie jar is the best jar yet.

  • Helen Davis
    April 4, 2014 at 01:15 pm

    Love poking through thrift stores, antique corners. Would much prefer a used item to a new one. Whether a person actually needs anything going into these places..totally beside the point. You can feel the history..make up stories about items....love the wooden toys...and your magazine. Priceless.

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