Lego enthusiasts produce masterpiece

Joel Cadieux’s children will know just what to expect when they visit Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump this summer.

Joel Cadieux

Joel Cadieux’s children will know just what to expect when they visit Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump this summer.

After all, they helped their dad build a scale version of the UNESCO World Heritage Site out of Lego pieces in their basement.

The 1.5-metre-square Lego display that Joel developed from photos of the real Alberta attraction at which bison were driven over the cliff by aboriginal hunters sits on half a ping-pong table in the Cadieux’s Clearview home.

An impressively uneven cliff face is made from grey blocks that rise about 15 cm from a flat ‘prairie’ base. Bare earth and grasses are simulated by multi-hued interlocking pieces, as well as some actual press-on Lego grass patches, bushes and a few trees.

Joel said the hardest thing was coming up with the buffalo. Since Lego does not sell bison, he had to come up with a design from scratch.

It took months to make something that resembled a buffalo, with the hump shoulders, and the dark brown colour on top, admitted Joel, who trawled the Internet for specialty pieces.

His six-year-old son Noah quickly became the quality control judge. “He told me the first ones looked like a moose or something,” said Joel, with a laugh.

The father of four finally got the look right after discovering a stash of Lego pieces that resembled a hump. He borrowed horns for the creatures from a viking set and created the legs and hoofs from two-toned cylindrical pieces.

In the display, he even put a few red blocks, simulating blood, under the head of the unfortunate animal that is dropping over the cliff.

Joel said he loved playing with interlocking building pieces as a boy, but grew out of the activity about when he discovered girls.

He got back into it after Noah was born, and discovered “it’s just as fun as when I was a kid.”

His time-consuming hobby is supported by Joel’s wife, Sandra, who believes it’s something he can do with the kids in the evenings, including four-year-old Dallis, two-year-old Elijah, and eventually Davis, who is only two weeks old.

“It’s also a creative outlet,” said Joel, who enjoys the problem-solving aspect — such as figuring out the raised cliff could be supported by hidden Lego pillars.

The Red Deer salesman, who previously designed a 400-seat Lego hockey rink, thought of re-creating Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump because it was an attraction he’d always meant to visit. “I haven’t actually seen it yet,” he admitted, although the Cadieux family are planning a trip to the Fort McLeod area this summer.

He estimated his re-creation took up to 25,000 Lego pieces, including the natives on horseback that came from a Western set the company produced about 10 years ago, which he found on eBay.

His hobby would get expensive if Joel didn’t take advantage of on-line sales, as well as garage sales.

Many of the different Lego blocks he stores in a well-organized drawer system were obtained from old sets sold on-line. Joel said he often keeps only the unique pieces he needs and resells the rest on eBay.

So far, he’s received great feedback on his Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump project from other Lego enthusiasts he met on-line, as well as officials from the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump Interpretive Centre. They asked to maintain a photo link to his display on their website.

Noah and Dallis also admire their dad’s handiwork — but they really liked finally being allowed to play with the buffalo on Saturday.

The family’s next project? Joel envisions building a suspension bridge and some kind of Godzilla-like monster rising out of the sea.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

PHOTO: Rainbow Block Party at Red Deer’s West Park

The Trans and Non-Binary Aid Society hosted a Rainbow Block Party at… Continue reading

Blood donations needed in Central Alberta: Canadian Blood Services

357 donors are needed before Aug. 26 at the Red Deer clinic

WATCH: Annual Family Picnic at Central Spray and Play

Blue Grass Sod Farms Ltd. held the Annual Family Picnic at the… Continue reading

Photos: Smoky conditions in Red Deer

Red Deer and area is experiencing high risk air quality.See related: Red… Continue reading

Committee to decide how millions in Humboldt Broncos donations are split

SASKATOON — Lawyers for the families of some of those who died… Continue reading

Boy, 11, dies after being struck by payloader on southern Alberta ranch

BOW ISLAND, Alta. — A boy has died after an accident on… Continue reading

Liberals look at creating federal holiday to mark legacy of residential schools

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal government wants to establish a holiday to… Continue reading

Thousands of police officers expected at regimental funeral in Fredericton

FREDERICTON — Thousands of police officers and first responders from across the… Continue reading

B.C. declares state of emergency over wildfires

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government has declared a provincial state of… Continue reading

As service refusals make headlines, experts say businesses usually in the wrong

Two Canadian businesses that recently made headlines for refusing customers have learned… Continue reading

Irregular asylum claims increased in July after two months of decline

OTTAWA — The number of irregular border crossers in Canada went up… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month