The spirit of Radium’s beloved Rolf Heer will live on, as the Radium Arts and Cultural Society has decided to turn his former property into a park.
Heer became a legacy with his Home of a Thousand Faces; his very own house that was enveloped in carvings.
Valerie Bracken, President of the Radium Village Arts and Culture Society, explained that a series of unfortunate events led to the society taking ownership of the land.
“Rolf’s home was very iconic, and he himself was a character,” said Bracken. “Several years ago Rolf took to social media to explain that he was diagnosed with cancer and would be selling his home. Well, social media just exploded. The tourism and marketing board wanted his legacy to carry on, so we decided to reach out to him. Rolf and I spoke for two hours, he had so many amazing stories, and during that conversation he said to me, ‘why don’t I just donate my property?’”
Heer’s home was even featured on HGTV’s ‘Weird Homes’, and drew a vast amount of attention to the quaint village of Radium. The Arts and Culture Society decided that they would eventually turn his home into a museum of sorts, until a tragic turn of events prevented that from happening.
In 2018, Heers’ many years of creativity tragically burnt to the ground in a fire, leaving only a few charcoal-laden pieces behind.
“That was 40 years worth of art. He built that home up and it was an iconic legacy in Radium. He was absolutely devastated,” Bracken explained. “We tried to lift his spirits, and told him that we would try to turn the property into a park.
“His spirits did lift a little at this idea. He loved flowers and since the get-go he wanted a place where kids could play and be creative, where artists could display their work and musicians could play music. Rolf was a pillar for freedom of expression. He always wore a wizard hat and a robe; he was quite the unique character.”
In 2020, Heer passed away. He generously left his property to the Radium Arts and Cultural Society and they have decided to continue his legacy with a park titled Woodcarver Park – Home of a Thousand Faces.
“Word got out when Rolf passed away and a Calgary couple, who work as landscape architects, donated the design. What they have come up with is completely perfect. It fits not only Rolf’s vision, but our vision as well. It includes everything he wanted. The designers consulted with the Chamber, with the Village, friends of Rolf’s and have come up with a park just as unique as he was.”
There will be a treehouse, open grass, a washroom building with a green roof, picnic area, an adventure play area and a ‘river’ of logs to promote creative nature play.
The estimated cost for the park is $1.1 million, meaning the timeline for construction will completely depend on funds raised through grants and fundraisers.
If all goes as planned, Bracken says construction is slated to begin in spring of 2022.
All charitable donations will be collected on behalf of the Columbia Valley Community Foundation for the Woodcarver park fund. There are several opportunities to contribute, whether it’s through corporate sponsorship or individual donations.
To find out more about the park and to donate, visit radiumarts.ca/projects/woodcarver-park/ or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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