There are many players in the wood industry, but they all have one thing in common: passion! If in France wood is recently experiencing a revival, in Quebec this material has long been used in all types of construction. We asked Alain Vaillancourt, author of the blog L’gosseux d’bois and the YouTube channel of the same name, which now has over 151,000 subscribers, some questions.
1. Can you introduce yourself? How did you get the passion for wood?
Hello, my name is Alain Vaillancourt and I live 1 hour west of downtown Montreal, Quebec. My passion for wood comes from my father who restored antique furniture for over 25 years in a Montreal department store. When I was young, like most young people, I was not interested in woodworking, I saw the future in high technology. As I got older, as they say, I became like my father and started building my own furniture. A few years ago, I built the workshop of my dreams, all in solid wood. In fact, apart from the foundation and the floor, I did everything in wood: the doors, the windows and the structure. This one is made of beams of 20 cm by 20 cm and 20 cm by 25 cm and a length of 7.6 meters.
2. Can you tell us more about your blog L’Gosseux d’bois ? What can wood lovers find there?
It is in this workshop, that I produce mywoodworking videos on YouTube since 2011. You can see a lot of things made of wood, from the construction of my workshop to cremation urns and all kinds of furniture. When my videos are not shot in my studio, they are shot in my cottage which is 350 km from where I live, or 150 km from the nearest town. My wooden cottage was built with the same beam design, but it is much smaller. In fact, I dismantled two century-old barns to recover the wood, something impossible to do with concrete. I produce my videos in the 2 official languages of Canada: French and English. However, the vast majority of my listeners (40%) come from France.
3. Why is wood an interesting material to use in furniture construction?
Using wood is really versatile. Using a variety of techniques, he can train to your needs. Whether it is for a very simple square piece of furniture or for rounded shapes with glued laminated techniques in a form to give you the desired curves. It can also be easily carved without having too many mechanical tools or having to exert incredible force. I have seen wooden sculptures in cathedrals in France that took my breath away. In addition, wood is a material that can be repaired quite easily in case of breakage. I know what I’m talking about, my father made us live with his talents to repair the old furniture centenarians. For me, wood is the perfect material to make anything you can imagine.
4. You live in Quebec where owning a wooden house is normal. In France, 80% of houses are built with concrete. What lessons should we learn?
Since 2016, we have taken 2 trips to Europe. We spent 3 months in Europe in 2 different trips (but mostly in France). The thing that struck us the most was that almost all the houses were made of concrete. In Quebec, all single-family homes are made of wood. It was a shock. I would never have thought that in my life. Here it is so normal to have wooden houses. In fact, even the exterior brick is only a facing. It has no structural value. It is even attached to the wooden walls that make up the entire structure of all our homes. In Quebec, the regulations have recently changed and it is now possible to build buildings up to 12 stories in wood. At the other end of the country, 4500 km from here, in British Columbia, the highest wooden building in the world has been built: it has 14 floors! Here almost everything is made of wood. This is normal because it is a renewable natural resource. Forestry companies are replanting trees in areas where logging has taken place.
5. What do you think are the advantages of owning a wooden house?
I find a wooden house very warm. I think (and all the people who came to visit me think so too), that my workshop with all the walls made of varnished pine, outside and inside, is much more beautiful than my house which is all made of wood with interior walls of plasterboard. To add the warmth of the wood, we put up half walls in wainscot that I made myself. I have already lived in a concrete apartment in Montreal and I will not go back there. In addition, a wood construction can be done in much less time than a concrete construction (which is very important for us). A house must be built after the thaw and must be finished before winter because working outside in the snow at -30° Celsius is not very pleasant! Here we still find in some places some wooden houses that were made 2 centuries ago! With minimal maintenance, a wooden house can remain in good condition for many generations.
A big thank you to Alain, who took the time to answer our questions and to share with us his passion for wood but also the Quebec vision of this noble material! Our article is illustrated with a photo of Alain’s beautiful workshop.
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