A new subdivision in the Sault has a very personal story behind it.
The 79 units that will be built behind the new St. Mary’s High School on Second Line East will be part of a subdivision named for developer Daniel Fremlin’s son, Jack-Roderick. It will also include a memorial park dedicated to his late father and mentor, Roderick Fremlin.
Roderick Fremlin was a city firefighter for 30 years who also worked as a builder. He died in September 2018 from mesothelioma, at the age of 66, before the birth of his grandson in January 2020.
“A lot of people credit the success of the business to me, but they don’t realize that if it wasn’t for my dad, I wouldn’t have anything,” says Fremlin. “He sacrificed so much for me.”
The builder is very family-oriented. He worked on job sites with his dad since the age of 12, sweeping or helping out any way he could. At 23 Fremlin wanted to start his own business so his father closed his own building company down to come work with his son.
“If it wasn't for my dad, I wouldn't have my business. He was there every day helping me. I called him for advice all the time, we were best friends, he was always in my corner,” he says.
“My father was the hardest-working man I ever met in my life and you could call anybody who knew him and they would say the same. He would work a night shift at the fire hall, wake up and go right to the job site in the morning. He did that continuously, every single day, 365 days a year. He worked really hard and built a good reputation with his name. They just don’t build them like that anymore.”
Fremlin owes a debt to his father’s stellar reputation. He had hoped to have him one day be his right-hand man, like a general manager. “My whole plan was developed so he wouldn’t have to work so hard, but obviously it didn’t get to happen that way,” he says.
The memorial park is very important to Fremlin. He’d had big ambitions from a young age and some thought his dreams were unrealistic. He wanted to build houses and his own subdivisions. His father always believed he could do it. “It’s kind of bittersweet because he’s not around to see it now, but I promised him I would do it and I did,” he says.
Fremlin just finished his first development on Johnson Avenue, where he built and sold eight semi-detached homes. Several other developments are in the works and will be opening over the next few years.
This one, though, is closest to his heart.
The private gated community will have 15 semis geared toward seniors and retired professionals. These 30 units are ideal for snowbirds who usually go south for the winter and don’t want to worry about maintenance. The rest will consist of 50 single-family homes that will connect to Millcreek.
“It’s a really prime piece of land,” says Fremlin. “I want to create the most beautiful neighbourhood because right now, that is the area to be in.” There are great local restaurants close by, a Walmart, the CAN-AM dealership, the police and fire departments, a soccer field and the new high school.
Fremlin was just recently approved by Tarion and the Home Construction Regulatory Authority (HCRA). “To build and sell houses and be a developer in Ontario, you have to have your Tarion or HCRA. It’s quite the process and took about a year to get approved. This was a big goal for me.”
This approval offers customers greater protections, as the government thoroughly checks out a builder’s financial statements and performs a criminal background check. All of Fremlin’s houses now come with a Tarion warranty. Enrol in the program and if anything goes wrong in the next seven years, the builder has an opportunity to fix it. If they don’t, Tarion makes the repair and bills the builder.
“It protects the homeowners so it’s a big deal. Only a few people in the Sault have it, the top developers.”
At 31 years old, Fremlin views this accreditation as a big accomplishment, because he has long looked up to the many successful developers in the Sault -- Tony Ruscio, Gino Sartor, Sam Biasucci, Mario Febbraro, Steve Ficociello and Dave Ruscio. “I really think highly of these guys. They’ve done everything I want to do. It’s pretty special to design from the ground up. It’s the best experience.”
“The Sault is very fortunate. There’s a lot of really good builders and developers in the city. I have a lot of respect for them."
At his company, success is a team effort. He is quick to credit his highly skilled trades, staff and an amazing support network, including his wife and family – Fremlin says none of this would be possible without his wife’s hard work and support.
What’s next for Fremlin and his latest development?
The next step for Fremlin is a May 10th meeting with the city council for rezoning and approvals. So far everyone has been very supportive. He hopes to set the roadwork tender soon and break ground in the spring.
“If it wasn’t for my dad, I don’t know what career path I would have. He basically dropped everything to help me with and teach me,” says the builder. “I’d give every dollar I had to spend 5 minutes on ‘our’ site again.”
“One day, when my kids are 8 or 10, I hope I can bring them to my job sites, and they can work alongside me. It’ll carry on my father’s legacy a little longer. Honestly, there would be no feeling better than that.”