The History and Lore of the Broken Shovel

From art to icon


Ah yes...the Shovel.

Hard to know where to start with the Broken Shovel,
but at the beginning is always best, I guess.

Created in 1978 in the workshop in the bowels of the Architecture & Landscape Architecture Building at the University of Toronto, this piece of sculpture served first as a trophy for a class party. The actual shovel came from a friend, and fellow student, who ran a landscape construction company. Together with him and another classmate as well as a block of what seemed to scrap wood provided by the curmudgeonly, but helpful, woodworker who held sway over the workshop, the Broken Shovel was created. 

After the class party somewhere on the Toronto Islands, on the voyage back, it was callously thrown overboard & almost lost floating around Toronto Harbour, rescued only to become the namesake and symbol of the Broken Shovel Bar through the late 1980's & 90s, and evolving into the icon and source of all power for the Deemers, a not so ancient but wise order. Who would have guessed!


The Broken Shovel now occupies an appropriate spot in my studio, close to the drawing table, still providing balance & inspiration. Its image has now become the brand of my new enterprise, ‘Broken Shovel Consulting’, where it symbolizes Hard Work.

What does the future hold for the Broken Shovel?  What are the next chapters?  Who knows.


I bet the Shovel knows.