French Canadian Made Furniture
Canadian French Furniture History
From about 1650 skilled woodworkers began arriving in French Canada who made furniture similar to that being made in France during the concurrent period. From this earliest time through the eighteenth century the Louis XIII furniture style predominated in Quebec. However from around the mid 18th century the bolder and gayer Regence and Louis XV & Rococo styles came into prominence with their more elaborate decoration.
Also influencing French Canadian furniture in Quebec later on were English furniture styles such as Queen Anne furniture. In urban centres of Quebec traditional pieces such as commodes and armoires began to take on an English appearance although provincial areas were less affected by such foreign influences.
A New Tradition
On the whole, despite the varied interlopings from elsewhere French Canadian made furniture was distinctively its own creature, particularly during the bulk of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as discussed below, and constituted a new canadian french tradition.
The first difference encountered by French Canadian furniture craftsmen on arrival in the new land was the lack of soft woods and therefore pine became the most commonly employed wood while for larger pieces walnut and butternut were also used.
Of all the types of french candian made furniture the most characteristic were chests constructed of a simple design with rough pine wood planks. Sometimes painted Canadian French chests and boxes were either flat topped or dome topped and sported geometrical front panels or curved panels and cabriole feet.
Armoires made with panelled doors and carved with various unique designs were built in large numbers through the 18th century in Canada and were inspired by the works of designers of the French Renaissance and Louis 13th eras. Also seen were some of the more elegant Louis 15th style.
Chairs & Stools
Canadian French in country areas tended to make quite primitive chairs and stools with seats of joined chairs being woven of elm, ash, or rush and their legs squared or turned in decorative patterns.
Although these rustic style french canadian chairs were derived ultimately from the country french furniture tradition in France they did develop unique traits of their own tending to be more stylised and with heavier lines.
Other Typical Furniture
Canadian woodworkers, apart from the standard chests, chairs, armoires, commodes, tables, and beds, also specialised in making simple country furniture such as food larders, dough boxes, and sideboards, among others, which distinguish themselves as being more strictly utilitarian.