The Kohan Reflection Garden is a horticultural gem situated on the southern portion of the historic World War II Japanese Canadian internment lands and serves as a beautiful lakeside contemplative site for visitors and regional residents. Along with the more recently developed Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre, the Kohan Garden commemorates the Japanese Canadian citizens who were interned in the region. The Japanese landscape elements — lanterns, bridge, bachi basin, ceremonial bell — as well as horticultural elements such as 12 varieties of maples, four varieties of iris, Itoh peonies, bamboo and other plants, help educate the public about Japanese Canadian heritage. The Garden showcases the last two remaining flowering cherry trees planted by the Fujinkai (women’s club) Society as well as the Teahouse constructed around 1943. Many internee families find comfort and solace in the Garden while contemplating the difficult experience of their ancestors. In 2017, Heritage BC designated the Kohan as a site of significance for the history of the Japanese Canadians.

For over 30 years, Master Gardener Ray Nikkel has provided the creative guiding hand for the philosophy and design of the Garden, combining formal Japanese elements with the natural setting. The result is a relaxed strolling garden with separate rooms; some quiet, enclosed and others open and spacious. The visitor is invited through a Japanese Entrance Gate into a secluded space, enclosed by a groomed hemlock hedge, along pathways to a magnificent view of beautiful Slocan Lake. Form and texture predominate while blooms and colours change with the seasons. As the word Kohan implies (it translates as “by the lake”), the Garden takes advantage of its location. The visitor walking the pathways will travel from the refined and tended beds, over the dry stream bed and bridge, to the breathtaking “borrowed view” of distance, lake and mountains.

The Kohan Garden provides a perfect outdoor venue for weddings, memorials, theatrical and music performances, casual recreation, picnics, meditation, au plein air painting, birdwatching, photography and more.

The Garden is located in the village of New Denver, next to Centennial Park and the New Denver Village campground, at 127 First Avenue, New Denver, BC.


Arts and Culture: Local musicians, theatrical performers, artists and cultural and community groups often use the Garden as a venue for concerts, art exhibits, and performances. This is also a popular venue for weddings, memorials, tours and workshops.

Socio-economic: The Kohan Garden is a no-fee public park (a donation box is located inside the entrance gate) and is an important and popular destination for residents and tourists. The Garden has become a choice destination for outdoor weddings; several are held in the garden each year, which is an economic benefit for the small communities of New Denver and Silverton.

Social Justice: The Kohan Reflection Garden honours the community members who were interned in the New Denver area and raises public awareness, in collaboration with the Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre, of the WW II internment of Japanese Canadian citizens. Opportunities for promoting conversation about social justice issues, and specifically the Japanese internment, are facilitated by interpretive plaques in the Garden’s Entrance Gate, easily viewed by visitors, locals and tourists alike.

Horticulture: The Slocan Lake Garden Society hosts tours for horticultural groups such as the Peony Society of Canada and hosted the “Grow Wild” workshop for gardening with native plants to complement a Shoreline Restoration Project, presented by the Kootenay Native Plant Society.

The Kohan Reflection Garden is a living work of art that needs ongoing maintenance and improvement. The Slocan Lake Garden Society (SLGS) manages and maintains the garden, and is predominantly volunteer driven.