Dickens Magical Village Brings 45-Year-Legacy to Families at Children’s Hospital

After 45 years of collecting, Joan and Ross Totten – in honour of their late nephew Rob – hope the Dickens Magical Village will spark moments of happiness for families at Children’s Hospital.

The Totten’s will never forget a handful of kids staring in amazement at their 8-foot-long living room display. Between the exclamations of “Did you see this one?” and “I want something like this,” the 2014 London Holiday Home Tour signaled to the couple that the joy of their home collection needed to be passed on to somewhere new.  

The brand new installation in the B Tower Atrium contains over 70 miniature buildings and countless accessories! Each is a little piece of Totten family heritage. The farming and printing shop, for example, honour Joan’s upbringing and time in publishing. Other pieces remind Ross of his many travels to England on business. However, the true magic for Ross shows up clearly on his face as he narrates through the village.  

“With the Dickens Magical Village, you are only limited by your imagination,” professes Ross. The family has always loved diving into the intricacies of the pieces – horses, shop signs, hidden birds, special buildings and characters, many a direct reference to Dickens’ stories.  

Since the first days of their collection 45 years ago – just three simple pieces – the village has grown into a significant part of the Totten family’s life. It was something their family could always share in, buying smaller and more affordable pieces or bigger and more detailed ones for holidays and special occasions.  

“We never failed to get lost in the magic of it,” says the couple. “There was always this anticipation for the unboxing at our house. By last year we displayed it in our home, there were 14 large boxes that our nephew Rob would help us carry up our stairs. We cherished each moment he spent making it possible for us to set up the village, creating a unique display every year,” shares Joan.  

The magic is what they want to share with families at Children’s Hospital. “We hope that it will be a welcome distraction, a place for awe and joy, even in the middle of difficult times,” says Ross.  

You can hear the warmth in the Tottens’ voices as they share their hopes for this immense collection. It has taken much planning and work for the dream of this special donation to become reality at Children’s Hospital, but as of today, the Village has come alive in its custom-made cabinetry and even lights up at night. 

With the help of dedicated staff at Children’s Hospital and beloved friends Glenn Impens and John Anthony, the Totten Family never gave up on their dream of sharing Dickens Magical Village with everyone at Children’s Hospital.  

John (left) and Glenn (right) admire their craftsmanship as electrician and carpenter of the custom work needed for the revealed village.
John (left) and Glenn (right) admire their craftsmanship as electrician and carpenter of the custom work needed for the revealed village.

 This special donation comes at a perfect moment, as Children’s Hospital and Children’s Health Foundation celebrate 100 years of the best possible care. To bring in a new piece of happiness and joy for families is certainly a fitting way to carry on the hospital’s legacy of leading-edge and compassionate care!

From the Totten family to those at Children’s, may you experience your own wonderful moments of joy and imagination thanks to Dickens Magical Village. 

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