‘Home of a Thousand Faces’
The weather is warm-ish and the grass is an exquisite shade of green, which means road trip season is at our heels.
If the snow mould allergies haven’t polished you off, it’s time to get planning that epic summer road trip—and pull it off before our next blizzard.
Bored of the same old trip to Banff? Fear not. The wizard wood carver of Radium Hot Springs, BC has you covered.
Not only does Radium have hikes and hot springs amidst a charming mountain range, it is also the home of Rolf Heer, a Switzerland-born beatnik whose house might make your eyeballs explode.
Upon entering town from Kootenay National Park (just one and a half hours past Banff) you’d be hard-pressed not to notice the massive, coloured carvings on the roadside. These bearded bards make up the gate of what Heer dubs on his website, “The Home of a Thousand Faces.”
After meeting Heer, decked out in his tie dye robes and pointed hat, it’s hard to imagine this guy even owns a computer.
I have to admit I was hesitant the first time I came across Heer’s abode. With signs like “Goat House—Shared Accommodation: Special Rates 4 Ladies,” I wasn’t sure if it was a fun house or a ‘free candy from a van’ situation.
Rest assured that Heer is simply a mountain-loving man who’s living a life he enjoys, and wants to share it with others. Both he and his dwelling —a mix between tree house and art studio—are wondrous.
After forking out the admission fee of $4 ($2 for those under 18), you’ll enter his workshop, where he sells sculptures crafted by chainsaws. A few more steps and it’s clear why his home is one of a 1,000 faces.
Good luck counting the stumps and driftwood turned into Heer look-a-likes. Every face has a flowing beard, and the wooden heads sprouting petunia afros match his multi-coloured locks.
Up next is the goat chalet—a roof turned goat haven complete with a grass plot and bridges to keep the “kids” happy. With faces only a mother (or wizard) could love, it’s fun to feed them corn chips and watch them lounge about their fortress.
But wait, the fun’s not over. The ground level actually does double as a funhouse, and it’s obvious that Heer doesn’t just love nature and beasts, but people and pranks.
Rundown doors line the walls, marked with deceitful invitations like “turn” and “open me” next to the knobs. If you’ve got the guts you’ll leave soaked, but laughing.
No doubt by now you’re hoping to meet the hippie version of Gandalf, but know that he loves to travel and there’s no tying him down. After all, it’s plainly marked outside the door that hours of operation are “open when I feel like it.”
The whole experience is a trip, but one not so easily forgotten.
So if road trips are your thing, take a tour through the realm of Heer. It might just be the wildest four bucks you ever spend.
The Radium Wood Carver
Radium Hot Springs, BC, $4