Griffintown resident Shaun Fawcett has created a line of custom order steel and wood furniture that is drawing Westmount residents to the nearby rejuvenated community to purchase unique hand crafted furniture that has links to the industrial past of Griffintown.
When Shaun moved to Griffintown 21 years ago, little did he know that he had moved into one of the most historic neighbourhoods in Canada. He chose the neighbourhood because he was attracted to the gritty old-industrial atmosphere of the area. Now, his new furniture design and fabrication business, Griffinworks www.griffinworks.ca is focused on connecting Montrealers with the fascinating industrial history of Griffintown.
“When I moved to Montreal from Ottawa in 1996 I rented a condo on rue Notre-Dame Ouest, just east of rue Guy. At the time, whenever I told long-time Montrealers where I had moved to, they would look at me quizzically and wonder why I had ever chosen to move into an old run-down and largely abandoned industrial area of the city that they had long before written off!” explained Shaun recently when describing the rationale for his new Griffintown-themed furniture business, GriffinworksTM.
Shaun says he wasn’t bothered at the time that he had moved into a neighbourhood that was obviously long past its heyday that had been essentially neglected and forgotten by the City and the citizens of greater Montreal for more than 30 years. In his case, the condo he moved into at the time was one of the few new-builds in the area.
Not long after moving “below the hill”, as he says many people referred to the area at the time, he noticed a small restaurant on rue Notre-Dame named the “Griffintown Café”. He inquired about the name and was told that he had in fact moved into an area known as “Griffintown”, a neighbourhood he had never heard of. As it turned out, almost every Montrealer he asked at the time had no knowledge or recollection of such a place either.
“In my early Griffintown days I would spend hours walking or cycling through the streets and back alleys, checking out the old factory and warehouse buildings, and the leftover, aging infrastructure. It wasn’t hard to see that this had once been a flourishing industrial neighbourhood. I wanted to know more about this forgotten area, so as the years passed I learned as much as I could about the story of Griffintown; particularly its industrial roots. And, the more I learned, the more fascinated I became!”
Early on in his Griffintown research, Shaun discovered that he had “accidentally” settled in one of the most historic industrial areas of Montreal, and in fact, in all of Canada. He came to realize that a major part of the industrial revolution in Montreal, Quebec, and Canada had indeed been centered in Griffintown between 1830 and 1920.
“By 2010, Griffintown had become the focus of serious urban redevelopment with numerous multi-storey condo buildings and support services opening up throughout the quarter. It occurred to me that in the middle of all of that activity, the vast majority of young people moving into the new version of the neighbourhood had absolutely no idea of the interesting and pivotal role that their new home, Griffintown, had played in the annals of the industrial history of Montreal, and Quebec, and Canada”, Shaun pointed out.
“It was for that reason that I decided to start GriffinworksTM in order to turn my part-time furniture design and creation hobby into a way to pay homage to the rich industrial heritage of Griffintown.”
The GriffinworksTM Medallion of Authenticity
“And, to solidify that connection with the past in a unique and lasting way, I decided that each piece of furniture would be permanently embedded with a visible Griffinworks ‘medallion of authenticity’ to forever attest to its legacy.”
GriffinworksTM is a small custom-order furniture design and fabrication business that uses traditional industrial materials as a way to connect with the industrial heritage of the Griffintown area of Montreal.
Shaun founded GriffinworksTM in 2017 and can be found online at www.griffinworks.ca or