In the heart of Montreal stand renowned landmarks – The Orange Julep, Schwartz’s Deli, and Couche Tard depanneur. They’ve been immortalized, not by celebrated painters or photographers, but by a local LEGO master, Addy Parsons. This Ottawa native residing in Montreal, exhibits an extraordinary talent to recreate the city’s iconic edifices brick by brick.
Our journey stumbles into Parson’s home studio nestled in Montreal’s chic Plateau neighbourhood. A visual buffet awaits those who dare enter her creation-filled haven. But one must bear in mind that each uniquely chosen construction piece, almost always, hails from a supplier in Thailand. Even though the humble LEGO brick is found in abundance (about 400 billion across the globe), procuring the perfect ones remains a meticulous endeavour akin to a treasure hunt.
Each exquisite piece is purchased afresh for new commissions. The distinct architecture of Montreal’s buildings requires a unique approach, after all. One of her masterpiece showcases the nauanced detail of a transparent pane featuring the Joe Beef window, home-printed on a minute piece of transparent sticker paper. This one-of-a-kind model of the renowned restaurant on Notre-Dame St. W., conjured from over 2,600 pieces, includes precisely detailed interiors, a well-equipped kitchen, and even an homage to the buffalo head artifact displayed in the restaurant’s restroom.
Parsons adopted this LEGO reimagining of her city as a means of pandemic-era solace back in 2021. Initially, she set her sights on creating the facades surrounding her home. However, it was the LEGO replicas of Montreal’s more recognizable edifices that stirred waves online. She reminisces fondly about the genesis of her acclaim – the iconic Orange Julep; a structure she cherished and desperately wanted to recreate.
Crafting a LEGO replica of the sphere-shaped fast-food joint on Decarie Blvd. posed a considerable challenge given LEGO’s defining feature – bricks and their essential right angles. Five exhausting months later, after going through eight iterations, countless expletives, and a few bottles of wine, her LEGO Orange Julep was ready to present to the world. Complete with vibrant string lights, a custom hotdog sitting in the window, and a welcoming cashier, her creation sparked awe and wonder amongst the online community.
Not resting on her laurels, Parsons continued building on her unique neighborhood replete with iconic Montreal buildings such as Schwartz’s, Couche-Tard, the charming pink Fleur et Cadeau Façade on Saint-Laurent Blvd., and the much-loved Café Santropol on Saint-Urbain St.
In Parsons’ eyes, Montreal’s buildings are not merely structures of brick and mortar, but venerable pieces of art. The LEGO renditions of these buildings evoke a sense of exploration and familiar intrigue in the viewer. The charm of seeing their beloved city recreated in LEGO form brings a sense of comfort and kindles a playful spirit in viewers, harking back to their own childhood of creation.