Lifestyle

LEGO artist recreates Montreal landmarks


The Orange Julep, Schwartz’s Deli, and even a Couche Tard depanneur — they’re landmarks in Montreal, but that’s not all they have in common.

Enter the world of local LEGO master Addy Parsons, the Ottawa-born Montrealer with a talent to render the city’s most iconic buildings in brick form.

CTV News visited her home studio in Montreal’s Plateau neighbourhood. For a look inside, watch the video report above.

“So, actually, these bricks almost all came from a supplier in Thailand,” said Parsons, dumping a small bag of assorted blocks onto a long workbench.

Despite LEGO’s enduring appeal to novice and advanced builders worldwide (estimates say there are around 400 billion pieces scattered around the globe), finding the right bricks for a job can feel like a treasure hunt, she said.

For commissions, she buys new. Still, Montreal’s one-of-a-kind buildings call for specific approaches.

“See the little Joe Beef window here?” asked Parsons, holding up a small transparent pane displaying the restaurant’s logo home-printed on an even smaller piece of transparent sticker paper.

Management at the iconic eatery had commissioned a model – complete with interiors – of their restaurant on Notre-Dame St. W. The 2,630-piece build features a stocked kitchen (complete with a turkey ready to carve), and the taxidermy buffalo head diners may remember from their visit to the washroom.

Parsons started recreating her city in LEGO as a pandemic passion pastime back in 2021. Among her first builds were facades near her home. Her work garnered serious attention online when she turned her talents to Montreal’s most recognizable landmarks.

“The most known one is definitely the Orange Julep, that one was the beginning of all of this,” she told CTV. “I just love that building, and thought it was really cool. I wanted to try making it.”

It turned out the spherical fast-food joint on Decarie Blvd was tough to build in LEGO – a medium defined by bricks, and all right angles that make them.

“After about five months, eight versions, many swear words, and a few bottles of wine, my LEGO Orange Julep is born,” she wrote online to unveil the project – fit with colourful string lights, a hotdog made to order sitting in the window, and a cashier waiting to greet a customer.

“Wait, is this for sale? I’m freaking out,” wrote one of many commenters online. “Love le concept,” wrote another.

This LEGO Orange Julep was shared on March 1, 2023, by Montreal builder Addy Parsons. It is comprised of 1,635 pieces. (Supplied image)

Since then, Parsons has expanded the neighbourhood, so to speak. In addition to Schwartz’s and Couche-Tard, her collection includes the pink Fleur et Cadeau Façade on Saint-Laurent Blvd., and beloved soup-and-sandwich spot Café Santropol on Saint-Urbain St.

“I think Montreal buildings are so beautiful,” said Parsons.

And when they’re made of LEGO, she said, something else emerges between the piece and the viewer.

“It’s a feeling of … exploration, where people want to look,” she said. “They seek familiarity, or they draw parallels with things they know in real life through a lens that’s really comforting and playful, because it’s LEGO.”

All of Parson’s creations are viewable on her social media page, brickablock

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