Port aux Basques, as you've never seen it

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The Port aux Basques landscape is incredibly rocky. That's pretty obvious to any person who's ever visited the town or to any ship that's run aground there (yes, you, MV Blue Puttees).

But in the creative mind of a retired software developer from Ottawa, Port aux Basques is incredibly ... blocky.

Jason Allemann recently built the gateway port - and in great detail - out of Lego.

"One day, we were sitting in the office sorting through some particularly colourful, but rare, Lego bricks I had," he wrote in an email.

"We really only had enough bricks to build small houses, but they reminded us of the many colourful houses we saw during that trip. We picked Port aux Basques because it was the first town we saw coming in on the ferry."

"That trip" was a 2011 trek across the province with his girlfriend.

"We really loved the island," he said.

Allemann must have designed some significant software or something, because he's only 41 and wasn't available for a phone interview about Lego Port aux Basques because of his summer exploits.

"My girlfriend and I are also avid rock climbers, and we are currently on the road for the summer touring Western Canada and Washington state."


He fancies himself a "brick artist," and like any creative type, said he has to work within the limits of the medium.

It's pushing the Lego limits, and the problem-solving involved, that keeps Allemann playing and creating with blocks - at 41.

"I'm an engineer at heart (and by education) and I really enjoy designing and building things. Working with Lego also allows me to create a diverse array of models."

He enjoyed Legos as a kid and found himself getting really interested again in 1999, with the release of the Star Wars edition - "themed sets that my inner child just couldn't resist."

That progressed into buying sets and then designing and building custom models, which involves a lot of planning and prototyping.

"I'll build portions of the model as a proof of concept, just to see what is possible and what pieces I might need."

Some creations have taken years to complete, and Allemann is hesitant to pick his most elaborate.

"I'll have to go with my latest completed model, though: a remote-controlled motorized walking machine, styled as a steampunk trading ship. I went through several designs of the walking mechanism alone before finally coming up with one that was robust and reliable. I also spent a fair amount of work giving it some 'authentic' details."

Check out Allemann's flickr stream and be blown away.

As for building the port of the Basques in Lego, Allemann relied on some photos, and he didn't anchor himself down by shooting for 100 per cent accuracy.

"We started with the overall shape of the shoreline, topography and position of the houses, which was loosely based on one particular photo we had," he explained. "We then built most of the houses and started fleshing out the details of the terrain, making small adjustments to the overall layout as we went."

Finally, he said, they incorporated a lot of what he considered typical Newfoundland details - not all of them associated with Port aux Basques - like lobster traps, fishing boats, whales, an iceberg and a lighthouse.

It's cool stuff, and the patience involved must be incredible.

But wouldn't it be neat to see other parts of Newfoundland and Labrador built out of blocks? Jellybean Row, Gros Morne, Gower Street, Gaultois ...

Seriously, building somewhere like Little Bay Islands in Lego would certainly be a neat diversion from the day-to-day.

Allemann would undoubtedly think so.

"What can I say?" he said of his hobby. "It's a lot of fun."

Email Steve Bartlett at sbartlett@thetelegram.com. On Twitter, he's @TelegramSteve.


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