Roger’s CastleRoger Laflamme (b. ca. 1944)
About the Artist/Site
Roger Laflamme worked as a pipefitter welder in the oil refinery in Sarnia, Ontario, near Lake Huron; he met his soon-to-be wife Amy in 1977. Laflamme had always wanted to live right by the water, so when a lakeside property became available in 1978, even before he and Amy were married in 1979, he snatched it up without looking at any other options. With the property fronting the beach and sloping down to the water, Laflamme enjoyed swimming in Lake Huron’s clear waters. However, the lake bottom was filled with rocks of all sizes, shapes, and colors, and he wanted to be able to swim and walk in the shallows without being hurting his feet on the rocks. The logical response was to pull them out.
So Laflamme started doing just that, diving down without a mask and holding his breath under water as he rolled or pulled the rocks out, tossing them up on the shore. He felt good that he was enhancing the swimming area and also simultaneously protecting the bank. Using an inner tube raft reinforced with plywood to hold the smaller rocks as he collects them from the bottom, and rolling the larger ones to a wheelbarrow that he’d then use to dump there where he wanted them, as might be expected, soon a rather large pile of rocks had mounded up. And this pile, in a different way, was still impeding his access to the water.
So he started piling the rocks up on the porch and railings of his home. But because with each new spring/summer season he would need to clear the lake bottom again, the pace of his collecting overcame the tentative decorations he had started. Soon he realized he needed to kick it up a notch, so he built a wrap-around porch, a breakwater, a gazebo, several “tiki huts,” more railings and stairs, and a carport. Eschewing mortar, he simply piles up the rocks, supporting the larger ones by carefully-balanced smaller ones, and using recycled wire and lumber to help flesh out the shapes and support the layers. Adding trunks for interior structural support with beams shooting off the central posts, he has created what has become known as the multi-leveled “Roger’s Castle.”
When Laflamme is at home he is happy to show visitors around; he boasts about groups of Chinese tourists who have come, and cross-country bicyclists. If he is not at home, the constructions are more easily viewed from the lake at the rear of the house, as the front of the house, facing the street, is unadorned.
“It stimulates your mind to be able to create things that haven’t been created before,” he says. “It’s all unique. You haven’t seen it anywhere.” Each winter he waits impatiently for the water to warm up enough for him to start collecting again.
~Jo Farb Hernández, 2016
Map & Site Information
Camlachie, Ontario ca
Latitude/Longitude: 43.0357119 / -82.162315
Camlachie, Ontario, Canada
begun late 1970s
Laflamme's home is located on Devonshire Road in Camlachie, Ontario, Canada. When Laflamme is at home, he is happy to show visitors around; he boasts about groups of Chinese tourists who have come, and cross-country bicyclists. If he is not at home, the constructions are more easily viewed from the lake at the rear of the house, as the front of the house, facing the street, is unadorned.
St. Clair, Michigan
Sterling Heights, Michigan