Salmon Arm father's sandcastles are metaphors for life | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Salmon Arm father's sandcastles are metaphors for life

Marc Dansereau at work on one of his amazing sandcastles.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Marc Dansereau
August 08, 2018 - 8:00 PM

SALMON ARM - In 2015, Marc Dansereau had a trailer of sand delivered to his driveway. His six-year-old daughter, Bernadette, had died from cancer six months previously and overcome with grief, he started to carve the sand pile.

Two weeks later, carving after work and on weekends, he'd created an enormous and incredibly elegant sandcastle that stood more than eight feet high.

"After Bernadette died, nothing seemed scary anymore, so I decided to go really big and I found out I could do something I never thought was possible," Dansereau said. "There was a lot of emotion pent up after her death so this was a wonderful way to channel it into something positive."

Over the last three years, the Salmon Arm resident has built eight giant sandcastles, the largest towering to 14 feet and using 4,500 lbs. of sand. He has one on display at the Marine Park in Salmon Arm and one in a local mall.

Now he's set to build another at this year's Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival, in an effort to raise awareness of Shuswap Hospice Society, where he's a board member.

Dansereau's creations are a long way from the two- or three-foot sandcastles he'd build with his kids on the beach, but Dansereau said Bernadette's death gave him the desire to do something grand.

Marc Dansereau created this sandcastle shortly after his 6-year-old daughter died.
Marc Dansereau created this sandcastle shortly after his 6-year-old daughter died.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Marc Dansereau

For the married father with six children, creating giant sandcastles is far cry from his job as a software developer, but he found the process helped him grieve.

"It's almost meditative and trance-like when you're building a sandcastle and carving, so that part was very healing and therapeutic," he said.

Using just sand and water, Dansereau carves the castles with a steak knife, kitchen spatula, garden trowel and metal strips that can be bent to creative curves. He doesn't sketch out a design first but instead says he "makes it up as he goes along."

The finished castle is then coated with a fine glue and lasts for several months depending on the weather.

Marc Dansereau at work on one of his amazing sandcastles.
Marc Dansereau at work on one of his amazing sandcastles.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Marc Dansereau

But why spend all that time and effort on something that will simply wither away? Dansereau says he looks at the process as a metaphor.

"It's kind of like seeing a rainbow, it's one of those things that doesn't stick around forever and I see that very much with the life of my daughter who at six went way too quickly. So now every moment building sandcastles is trying to live in the moment."

Even with the hours and hours it takes to build such amazing creations Dansereau said the meaningful conversations he has about why he does it makes it all worth it, even if after several months the elements will reduce his ornate creations back to grains of sand.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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