Canadian Woodworking

Gord Peteran’s favourites

Blog by Rob Brown
Chest on chest

In my conversation with Yuri Kobayashi a few weeks ago, she named Gord Peteran as her favourite Canadian maker. Gord has mixed furniture making with art for decades, and has built a critically acclaimed career out of it. With pieces in many galleries across North America, his work will continue to be seen by the public for generations.

Favourite piece you’ve made?

Gord Peteran
“Chest on Chest”

Chest on Chest

Chest on chest
Chest on Chest– Gord Peteran knows the first artistically challenging piece he ever made helped set his career in motion.

Peteran: Like most illusioned makers, the piece of my own work I’m most proud of would have to be my next piece. That ideal is surely what keeps us all cutting forward.

Since there is no image of that yet, I might choose my first piece. Well, perhaps not the first piece of furniture I made, but the first piece of furniture that contained some kind of conceptual rigour beyond just craft and design. I’m proud of it because:

  1. I took a chance, gambled on the absurd, and won.  It was titled “Chest on Chest” and set the course of my career.
  2. It was coveted in a nurturing home for over 30 years. It’s very important that an artwork lives somewhere, other than the artist’s studio or basement.
  3. Recently the Royal Ontario Museum purchased it from that collector, who had kept it in mint condition while using it every day. It will now live on permanently displayed as part of the ROM’s collection.


Glenn Adamson once wrote in the catalogue “Furniture Meets Its Maker” that “When stacked one atop the other, the two objects create a curious perspectival effect, as if a single chest were both close at hand and far off in the distance.”

Favourite Canadian-made piece?

Heidi Earnshaw
“7-Day Dresser”

7 day chest
7-Day Chest – Heidi Earnshaw, who Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement has included in the Canadian Quotes series, made this tall chest.
7 day chest
7-Day Chest – Although you could say this chest is backless, a single piece of solid wood provides not only the necessary structural reinforcement to keep the chest upright, but is also a handy stop to keep the drawers aligned when pushed in.

Peteran: Heidi Earnshaw and I were in a show together, which is when I first saw this object. Lovely structural transparency, honesty of craft and reserved choice of solid white oak.

Back detail reveals a very flat-footed carcass triangulation trick, with no apology necessary; a lovely single line. Her designs are consistently understated and always high quality.

John Doan
“Secretary Desk”

Secretary Desk
Secretary Desk – Peteran admires the work of John Doan, who built this secretary desk in the early 1800s. Proportion and details, all created with nothing but hand tools, makes it easy to understand why Peteran likes this desk.

But also, Rob, do you ever cover historical Canadian woodworking?

John Doan, of Sharon, Ontario, [created] “Secretary Desk” 1830 (ish) in solid bird’s-eye maple. I had the opportunity to examine this work closely. I have never seen more elegant and exacting traditional proportions throughout every aspect of such a complex piece of high-quality furniture. One of many very good examples of Pennsylvania Chippendale by this maker. Also worth noting is that it was made with hand tools only. It also appeared to me, upon very close examination, to have been originally stained red. Can you imagine!? We are such cowards now.

Favourite internationally made piece?

Michael Hurwitz, U.S.
“Bentwood Rocking Chaise Lounge”

Bentwood Rocking Chaise Lounge
Bentwood Rocking Chaise Lounge – Like many other furniture makers, Peteran enjoys the work of the great Michael Hurwitz of the U.S. This chaise is one of his most famous pieces.
Bentwood Rocking Chaise Lounge
Bentwood Rocking Chaise Lounge – A collection of curves comes together to create this masterpiece. Balance, both visual and physical, are important aspects of this chaise.

Peteran: Also, two choices, one old school, one young school.

Michael Hurwitz is a serious studio furniture icon and has received many awards over his career. His “Bentwood Rocking Chaise Lounge” is a deceptively complicated, yet elegant, object. It seems to float effortlessly. A studio furniture masterpiece.

Chris Schanck

Banglatown – Part furniture, mostly art, the work of U.S. artist Chris Schanck is a favourite of Peteran’s. This seems like a natural fit to me.


Peteran: Chris Schanck is the leading-edge example of the new movement of craft-art-design trilogy. His work is challenging to witness, yet within it lies the comforting history of built furniture. Those two components are very hard to couple together, at least well. I think he does that.


If any of you’d like to suggest a Canadian maker for me to approach with these three questions, let me know. I’m always all-ears when it comes to learning more about Canadian woodworkers.

Last modified: May 26, 2022

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