Fantasy in stone: Man’s beach creation is one-of-a-kind

One of the gazebos overlooking Lake Huron, just east of Bright’s Grove. Glenn Ogilvie

George Mathewson

Roger Laflamme has been dragging rocks from Lake Huron and adding them around his beachfront home on Devonshire Road for the past seven years.

Stone by stone he’s created an amazing outdoor structure that’s as original in design as it is whimsical in execution.

Laflamme started with a front porch and it took off from there. And whatever it is, it’s fashioned almost entirely from beach rock.

“I go under the water and get them, sometimes 1,000 a day,” says the retired pipefitter.

“I’m clearing out my neighbours beaches too, so they’re happy.”

Laflamme suspends the rocks on wires in wooden frames cobbled together from driftwood and recycled fencing. Each is fitted by hand, like pieces of a puzzle, and secured with smaller stones without cement.

So far his … sculpture? … installation? … has survived even the wildest blows, including Hurricane Sandy.

One recent addition is a “carport” that isn’t connected to the driveway and will never hold a car.

To reach it, one must pass through a curved archway on the west side of the house Laflamme calls “The Egress,” or the “entrance to a higher plane.”

And the jaw-dropper is indeed around back of the house where a series of connected rock gazebos, walkways and porches spill down to the beach.

For colour, Laflamme dabs on rejected “mis-tinted” paint from home improvement centres that cost him five to 10 bucks a can. Hanging rows of wave-rounded bricks have been added as a decorative touch, like curtains.

“I had a whole pile of bricks just sitting there. I knew they had a purpose and I figured it out,” says Laflamme, who shares the home with his wife Amy.

In recent years, growing numbers of curious spectators can be seen walking the beach between Bright’s Grove and Camlachie to stop and gawk at his… his …

“What do you call this, anyway?” Laflamme was asked during a recent tour.

‘I don’t know what it is. There isn’t a name for everything,” he replies, acknowledging the effort has become a local tourist attraction.

“I build one and then another one and I keep building. Sometimes I build one a week. I’m using my mind to create things that have never been created before.”

To collect the raw material Laflamme dives to the lake bottom without a mask. Smaller rocks are lifted onto an inner-tube raft, and the heavy ones rolled underwater to the shoreline and tipped into a wheelbarrow.

At 72, Laflamme is fit and vigorous and far from finished with his fantastical vision, he says.

“I’ve got so many ideas in my head.”

Rocks like this one are prized by Roger Laflamme because they easily interlock on his unique beach creation. Glenn Ogilvie

Rocks like this one are prized by Roger Laflamme because they easily interlock on his unique beach creation.
Glenn Ogilvie

Wave-rounded bricks hang like curtains from the beach structure. Glenn Ogilvie

Wave-rounded bricks hang like curtains from the beach structure.
Glenn Ogilvie