There is a place in the Okanagan where fairies, dwarves, dragons and other enchanted creatures hide, just waiting for the right visitors to unearth their magic.
Enchanted Forest is a fairy-tale lover’s haven, full of famous characters like the old woman who lived in a shoe, as well as Dorothy and Toto from the Wizard of Oz.
“The story started in 1960 with a couple — Doris and Ernest Needham,” said Enchanted Forest director of operations Veronika Stevenson. “Doris was the one who created all the concrete figurines and she created so many that she just wanted to find a place to display them.”
The Needhams searched for just the right property to showcase the figurines, and finally found the a spot between Sicamous and Revelstoke.
By the time Enchanted Forest opened in 1960, Needham had created more than 300 hand-made concrete figurines.
The Needhams’ lifelong dream and retirement project took off quickly.
By 1970, one million people had stopped to visit the quirky park.
But, after two decades of living the dream, it was time for the couple to retire.
“Enchanted Forest was owned by five Canadian families in total,” Stevenson said. “It’s meant to be owned by families. It’s meant to be loved by families and someone that can give it love and enjoy it.”
Even Stevenson’s two children grew up in the beloved forest.
“I hope that one day they’re going to have these wonderful memories from here and I hope they see the magic,” Stevenson said.
In addition to an enchanted castle, the grounds boast the tallest treehouse in the province, spanning three floors.
Visitors can also stroll through the nature walk.
“We have the amazing beaver pond and there are rowboats,” Stevenson said. “And we have a boardwalk that goes all the way to the river.
“If you come in the end of September, beginning of October, you can actually see the salmon run.
“It’s one of the most spectacular spots. You can really see them going.”
Each season, local artists are invited to the park to put their own touches to the magical art creatures.
The park will be celebrating 60 years next July, and Stevenson hopes to see it continue to grow and enchant visitors from all over the world.
“We have a third generation now come visiting,” Stevenson said. “Imagine grandma who’s bringing her granddaughter and the grandma has a picture when she was just a little girl and now she has a picture of her granddaughter at the very same place.”