Simon Brennan in front of his woodshop.
Crédit photo : Emily Southwood
Emily Southwood –
Simon Brennan came up with the seed of an idea for his business Mr. Barn Wood when he drove by a fallen down barn in the Haut Saint Laurent and thought, “I’d like to try my hand at repurposing that.”
Once in the debris removal business in Montreal, he also wanted to return to his Ormstown roots where he’d learned a love of woodworking from his dad, John Brennan. Simon now runs a thriving enterprise alongside his business partner Drew Stevenson and a visit to their shop reveals that these barn wood aficionados love every minute of their work.
Mr. Barn Wood, founded in 2014, operates from Saint-Antoine-Abbé near Franklin. The gist of the business is that they source old wood, clean and treat it, and turn it into a range of small and large scale projects. These range from designing one-of-a-kind furniture, to conceptualizing entire commercial spaces and restaurants such as L’Usine de Spaghetti Vieux Montreal, and Taverne de la Ferme. They also sell the wood in small and large batches for export, like a recent order for 800 sq ft of grey wood. On location, they also offer antiques and salvaged architectural items for purchase.
The look of their custom pieces and interiors—which often include mosaics of distressed wood with dashes of turquoise and metal—play with the contrast between modern and rustic. “It’s the difference between covering one wall, which adds a rustic look, and covering an entire room, which can look kitschy,” Simon explains. The in-demand business model has capitalized on the public’s desire for recycled and repurposed items in a world grown weary of constant waste. This ethos mirrors Simon’s own philosophy. “We want to do for the land what it has done for us. It’s also important to me that we support our region by using local people as much as possible.” His personal gratification in repurposing is also about incorporating stories of origin.
A Concordia graduate with a Philosophy Major, the history of where something came from is just as important to Simon as where it ends up. As a local history buff, he likes the element of putting himself in the shoes of farmers 100 years ago. He explains: “When we take something apart we can see how it was put together and all of the decisions that were made along the way. It tells a story.” The oldest known piece in his stock is a 17” wide slab of Hemlock dating from 1840. Although asked to part with it several times, Simon and Drew refuse to sell the memento. “It’s our mascot,” Simon explains as he looks up at it proudly in the barn-become-woodshop, reaffirming, “Nah, it’s not going anywhere.”
To learn more visit http://mrbarnwood.com/index.html or search @Mr. Barn Wood on Facebook.