The Doc Project

'Cheaper than Wal-Mart' - hundreds of boots at Yellowknife dump a hot commodity

As locals gleefully hunt down their size in a big pile of boots, one CBC reporter hunts down who dumped them — and why.

As locals hunt down their size in big pile of boots, one CBC reporter hunts down who dumped them and why

Walt Humphries said about a hundred pairs of lightly used steel-toe boots were up for grabs at the Yellowknife dump a few weeks ago. They were almost gone within a week. (Chantal Dubuc/CBC)

A few weeks ago, Priscilla Hwang was asked an unusual question at work. 

"Would anybody like to look into rubber boots at the dump?"

Her producer was asking around the desk at Priscilla's HQ, CBC North, looking for stories.

"And, uh, nobody looked him in the eye," Priscilla remembers. "I felt kind of bad, so I said, 'Sure, I'll look into the rubber boots.'"

Priscilla's journalistic instincts kicked in immediately.

"I ask around the newsroom, who's somebody that visits the dump often?" she recalls.

And a name came up: Walt Humphries.

Walt Humphries, Yellowknife dump patron. (Submitted by Walt Humphries)

 
Going to the dump is just one of the things I do.- Walt Humphries

 

Walt was one of the Yellowknife residents who saw the big pile of boots first hand ... before locals picked up almost all of them. Delighted to find a pair in his size, Walt later went online and discovered that the same boots were about $180 brand new.

But there was still a mystery that lingered, even as Yellowknifers carted boots home. "People were trying to figure out where they came from, and why they were dumped," says Walt. "Something like that, it could have been given to the ReStore or you could have sold them."

So Priscilla kept digging. When people were raising questions in the comments of a post about the boots on a Yellowknife Classifieds Facebook page, someone responded saying that his grandfather had dumped them there.

The grandfather's name was Lloyd Lush.

"He is our boot man, and it turns out he had six crates full of boots," Priscilla confirms.

Lloyd Lush next to a crate full of rubber boots he won at an auction. 'He is our boot man, and it turns out he had six crates full,' Priscilla confirms. (Submitted by Lloyd Lush)
 

Lloyd had won them in a blind bid at an auction sale in Yellowknife. And as he told Priscilla, he tried to give them away to friends, neighbours... but no one wanted them. 

And this is where you have to understand something about the Yellowknife dump. According to Priscilla, the dump is "iconic" thanks to an unofficial salvage or recycling area, where people in the know come and go, swapping out the things they need.

Lloyd dropped the boots in this area, and his instincts were bang on. "I tell you, they were gone in no time at all," he says. 

"People are using them. That's my intention — hopefully someone can use them, and it worked out great."

As for Priscilla? She plans to visit the Yellowknife dump soon. She needs a coffee table.

To listen to Walt, Lloyd and Priscilla tell the story with the help of host Acey Rowe, click the Listen link at the top of the page or download and subscribe to our podcast.

About the Producers

Priscilla Hwang (Chantal Dubuc/CBC)
Currently with CBC North, Priscilla Hwang brings you offbeat and exclusive stories from current affairs (which is probably why her ears perked up when she heard about dump boots). She's worked as a reporter and with CBC's investigative unit. Reach her @prisksh or priscilla.hwang@cbc.ca


This documentary was produced and edited by Acey Rowe, the host and producer of The Doc Project. 

 

 

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