Huge dump soils Wakefield, Quebec forest

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by Trevor Greenway on September 10, 2009

Low Down photographer Trevor Greenway stands on top of the 50-foot garbage pile with his camera fixed towards the bottom. Photo by Mark Burgess.

Low Down photographer Trevor Greenway stands on top of the 50-foot garbage pile with his camera fixed towards the bottom. Photo by Mark Burgess.

It can’t accurately be called a “mountain” of garbage, but piled 100 feet wide by 50 feet deep, this giant mound of waste hiding in the Gatineau Hills forest is big enough.

Two hikers came across this secret, illegal dump while searching for mushrooms just outside Wakefield village a few weeks ago, and called the Low Down to let us know of their ugly discovery.

This reporter followed their lead to a hiking trail off Maxwell Rd, about 500 metres from where it intersects with River Rd in Wakefield.  A locked gate advertised conflicting signs: two “no hunting” signs, and another larger one that read: “Hunting 2006. 8 Amigos.”

The hikers then took me up a separate trail a few feet away from the gate. Walking the thick forest, we came across a rather small pile of garbage. This was just a taste of what was to come. A few more steps in, I stood on top of a high point to get a good look down a steep ravine.

Sept. 9 front page

Sept. 9 front page

This pile was more impressive.

Old appliances, drywall, door and window frames, regular garbage bags and even Christmas ornaments lay in a huge heap at least 50 feet high.

Making it to the bottom was tricky; multiple sections of protruding barbed wire pulled at my pant legs, and my boots sank into pockets of rotting wood. I passed what looked to be an old shredded bus seat, a couple of rusting stoves, and a fridge. From its bottom looking up, the pile looked even bigger. Old planks, sheet metal, cans of paint and rusty barrels cover even more layers of garbage underneath. A stream could be seen running down the ravine underneath all the trash. With the Gatineau River less than a kilometre away, one could guess that’s where it’s headed.

The property is owned by 82-year-old Edmund McSheffery of Wakefield, whose property stretches across 275 acres of bush and farmland on both sides of Maxwell Rd. When I called for an interview Sept. 7 he admitted to dumping the trash himself.  When asked if anybody else had access to the gated land he said no. But after asking him about specific items that had been dumped in the pile, like the couch, the fridge and other large items, he added that “a couple of my hunting friends have the key.”

He confirmed that the “8 Amigos” sign was put up by these friends, but when asked about their identity replied “I don’t know off hand, they come up once a year in the fall.”

McSheffery said he had been dumping his personal and farm garbage in the pile for the past four or five years and didn’t think there was any major issue with what he was doing.

“I figured that it was my own property and it wasn’t a problem.”

McSheffery said that he was the only person dumping on the site and that the gate was put up “years ago.”

However, in a second phone call he changed this statement to say that the gate had been installed “to stop other people who had been dumping on the land”. He claimed that only half of what is there now is garbage from his farm.

McSheffery said his trash included the tires, some of the sheet metal, the planks of wood and the household trash. When asked why he doesn’t use La Peche’s garbage pickup service, he replied, “I don’t know, it’s my land.”

He then said large items like the couch and the fridge must have been dumped by neighbours, although driving up to the site would probably be impossible considering the locked gate. He said that he may have left the gate open a couple of times.

McSheffery said he hasn’t dumped any trash on the pile since last year, but a new, bright yellow garbage bag at the top of the pile suggests otherwise. If you know of any illegal dumping sites in the area, please let us know. Send an email to trevor@lowdownonline.com.