Quebec ice and sand sculptor Michel Lepire, the man behind many of the elaborate ice palaces at Quebec City’s annual Carnaval, has died.
Lepire’s daughter, Renée-Claude, told The Canadian Press he died suddenly from a heart attack Monday.
READ MORE: Carving a fish out of a 300-lb block of ice
He was 70.
The award-winning sculptor was well known for his work at the Carnaval, having created ice palaces and other works at the two-week event.
“My father started sculpting with snow at 14 for a neighbourhood contest linked to the Carnaval,” his daughter said.
“After that, he worked in hospitality in Quebec City and continued to do snow sculpting as part of the Canadian team.”
Finally, in 1994, his pastime became his life’s work as he ended up founding a company that ice, snow and wood to make sculptures.
“They were different as mediums, but he loved working with all of them,” she said.
His firm organizes a sand-sculpting competition each August in Quebec City — Les Internationaux de sculpture sur sable de Québec.
Lepire has worked with his son Marc since 1998 and both have taken part in competitions all over the world.
His daughter said his grandsons are also involved in what has become the family trade.
Renée-Claude said her brother Marc was on the site Monday night preparing mascot Bonhomme’s palace, noting her father would have wanted it to be completed.
“My brother was back there last night working to make sure the palace would be delivered on time,” she said.
The Quebec festival long associated with Lepire said it was devastated by his sudden passing.
“Our thoughts are with the large family of sculptor Michel Lepire, the pioneer of ice sculpture as we know it today and a proud and indispensable craftsman of our Carnaval,” Carnaval director Melanie Raymond said in a statement.
“Our many years of collaboration will remain etched in our memories while knowing that his heritage and know-how are alive and well.”