Brothers Dressler Evoke Canada’s History, In Table Made Of 100 Scavenged Symbols

Ranging from moose bone to railroad spikes to old records.

The Brothers Dressler, our favorite Canadian salvage junkies, have built a boardroom table using nothing but — you guessed it! — salvaged goods. Commissioned by the YMCA in Canada, the table is a mishmash of moose bone, barn wood, canoe paddles, and nearly 100 other artifacts that evoke Canada better than a denim suit. (Well, almost.)


The objects were donated by YMCA associations across the country. Some summon general Canadian history, like a spike from the nation’s first railroad and a barn board from the farm of Mary Ann Shadd Cary, the first black woman to vote in a general election. Others are more whimsical Y ephemera: dumbbells, badges, trophies, a 1960s home-fitness routine slapped onto an LP. All this stuff is meant to tell the story of the YMCA’s more than 150 years in Canada, and, by extension, the story of Canada itself. The table also apologizes profusely if you bump into it.

Kidding! All jokes aside, building this thing was no small feat. The Brothers Dressler (made up of twins Jason and Lars) had to squeeze a litany of awkward shapes and sizes into a table less than 10 feet long and and 4 feet wide, as if piecing together a jigsaw puzzle. They started out by arranging everything on a giant slab of glass to see what they were working with. Then, they paired small, fragile objects with bits of wood infill hacked up from a large slab of Douglas fir to create the appearance of a solid table top. The legs were built by binding together assorted elements — the trunk of a Christmas tree to a World War I shell casing, a paddle to another paddle, and so on. The brothers even made their own hardware: They chopped a steel plate into washers and managed to cobble together a connection between the table top and a leg, using a trophy and an old doorknob.

The table is up at YMCA Canada’s head office in Toronto. More info in our slideshow above.

[Images by John Beebe courtesy of YMCA Canada]

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.