From Gauvreau’s École du Meuble to the École d’ébénisterie d’art de Montréal.
At the beginning of the 20th century, markets were flooded with American products stemming from the industrial revolution, and artisanal small-scale production in Quebec was in crisis. The government at the time decided to act and to take charge of the training of artisans in order to stimulate the sector. In 1935, Jean-Marie Gauvreau, a passionate woodworker trained at the École Boulle of Paris, founded the École du meuble, an initiative that was reflecting the government’s will to develop a network of professional and technical postsecondary education. Teaching was provided by renowned professional artists and artisans (architects, designers, decorators, woodworkers, sculptors, painters, blacksmiths, ceramists, textile and tapestry weavers, and art critiques). The École du meuble was recognized as a beacon in Quebec’s creative scene. In 1958, the École du meuble became the Institut des arts appliqués, and in 1969, it was integrated to the cégep du Vieux Montréal.
In 1984, the Quebec Government came to an agreement with the applied arts and crafts sector regarding education and specialized services to be offered to artisans. This agreement gave birth to the Plan national de formation en métiers d’art.
The cégep du Vieux Montréal, mandated to implement this Plan for the western region of the province, created the Institut des métiers d’art (IMA), an organization charged with maintaining partnerships with other applied arts and crafts schools in order to offer a technical college program in applied arts and crafts, branching out into eight disciplines (ceramic, textile construction, textile printing, fine woodworking, jewellery, violin-guitar making, leathercraft, art glass).
The technical college education in applied arts and crafts – fine woodworking discipline has been offered for more than 25 years in Montréal. This program was long managed by the IMA. In 2007, spearheaded by its teachers, this program officially became an independent applied arts and crafts school, the École d’ébénisterie d’art de Montréal (ÉÉAM).
In the Fall 2011, the ÉÉAM modified its program to include more hours in conceptual development. Furthermore, on top of its high quality technical education inspired by traditional know-how, the ÉÉAM decided to invest in creation and design in order to offer a complete, balanced and modern training.
Since 2014, the ÉÉAM has been developing continuing education level classes and workshops to make woodworking more accessible to all. To date, the school offers a unique array of classes catering to different interests and skill levels.