A Cape Breton firefighter who spends his vacations scavenging through heavy trash says he'd never trade it for a week down south.

Eugene Magee takes a break from fighting fires every year to roam the streets of Sydney, digging through curbside garbage.

"I call it 'Chri-Easter' because it's like there's gifts out there for you, like at Christmas, but it's also like Easter because you've got to go looking for them, like Easter eggs. That's my season, that's my holiday," he laughed. 

"Usually it's antiques. I hate to see something thrown away that still has value to me or to somebody else. Rather than it go in a landfill, if someone can make use of it, then why not?"

Magee picks this time of year for his annual treasure hunt because that's when the Cape Breton Regional Municipality does its heavy garbage collection.

He uses his global positioning system to mark his route so he doesn't hit the same street twice. 

"At the same time, you can go down a street one minute and there's nothing there and come back a couple of hours later and it'll be full," said Magee.

"So it doesn't hurt sometimes to have a second look."

Free furnace

Magee sells what he can to a scrap yard. He makes enough to cover his fuel costs, but said the love of the hunt is his real payment.

"I picked up a propane furnace there this morning that I'm going to install in my garage for heat. There's little things that I don't know that I need it until I see it."

On Wednesday, he found a sleigh for his nephew, along with the furnace, an old saw, copper wire and other treasures.

He first went hunting in his grandmother's attic when he was a child and the thrill is still there. He says he wouldn't trade it for a week in the sun.

"No, no, no. Do they have heavy garbage pick up there?" Magee asked.

The professional trash collectors start their rounds in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality next week.