Howard, the world’s tallest gnome will soon say goodbye to his home along the Island Highway near Nanoose Bay and be relocated to a new spot on Vancouver Island.
The fate of the iconic, eight-metre gnome was put in jeopardy earlier this month when the granddaughter of the man who built Howard announced on social media the property owners where the gnome stands wanted him gone.
Bridget Matewish, granddaughter of Ron Hale, said representatives from the Chevron gas station where Howard currently stands told her “due to legal reasons” they no longer want the statue on their property and will tear him down if he’s not gone by April 30.
Matewish and her family instantly began searching for a new location for Howard. They’ve since received dozens of offers from people wanting to give Howard a home.
“We will be sitting down as a family mid-month… to decide together,” Matewish said. “We will 100 per cent be ensuring he stays on the Island. I would guess at least 50 people offering him a new home. It’s been insane but so positive.”
One of those interested people offering Howard a new home is Coombs business owner Pauline Nelsen.
Nelsen believes her unique antique shop and RV Park on Winchester Road (Treasures, Curios and RV Park) that overlooks the Coombs Junction would be a perfect spot for Howard.
“Guaranteed everybody will see [Howard] from the highway,” Nelsen said. “I know [the owners] said they’d like to keep [Howard] in the general area.”
Nelsen said anybody would be welcome to come visit Howard at any time if he ends up on her property.
“Hopefully [the owners] come and see the place because it’s pretty unique,” she said.
A petition has also started by Isabella Kortbeek to have Howard moved to Vancouver Island University.
“The perfect place for the record-setting gnome would be influencing the daily lives of students of Vancouver Island University,” reads the petition, that has garnered 704 signatures.
Howard has towered along the Island Highway since 1998 and was used as the mascot for the amusement park that Hale’s family once owned at the property. In 2009, Howard was inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest gnome.
Matewish has started a GoFundMe page (www.gofundme.com/save-howard-the-worlds-tallest-gnome) with a goal of raising $15,000 to help cover the cost of needed repairs for Howard before he’s sent to his new home.