British Columbia

8 metre-high Howard needs new home or he'll be a gnome no more

Howard is a 7.91 metre-tall gnome. He's taller than a giraffe, the tallest of his kind in the world and currently saddled with a bit of tall order: he's looking for a place to stay.

World's tallest garden gnome desperately seeking a place to stay on Vancouver Island

Howard the gnome has until April to find a new home or else he will be torn down. (Bridget Matewish / Facebook)

Howard is a pretty tall guy.

Take his size and combine it with a full white beard and plump rosy cheeks standing out against a green tunic — he's hard to miss.

Some people honk when they pass him at a Chevron gas station on the side of B.C.'s Island Highway. Others stop for a photo, giving a thumbs up to match his or stretching up on their tip-toes for a high five.

Howard is a 7.91 metre-tall gnome. He's taller than a giraffe, the tallest of his kind in the world and currently saddled with a bit of a tall order: he's looking for a new home.

The giant gnome statue has fallen into disrepair in recent years, and his owners will tear him down at the end of April unless he finds a new location.

Howard's tall tale

The gnome is the creation of Bridget Matewish's grandfather, Ron Hale, who built Howard to promote the family's amusement park and go-kart track in Nanoose Bay in 1998. The park was called Gnome Man's Land, enchanted with storybook gnomes scattered across the property.

The park was torn down over insurance costs a few years later. The family opened a gas station on the property instead, the gnome still standing on the corner of the property but eventually sold that business too.

Howard stayed when Matewish's family made the sale, but now he's covered in moss, he's partly held together with rope and he's been missing a belt buckle for years.

His platform has also rotted — which makes the record-breaking statue a liability for the current owners, Parkland Fuel Corporation.

"After extensive investigation into the structural integrity of the gnome, it has been deemed unsafe and therefore requires us to remove it from our property and out of harm's way from our customers. At this time, we are working with the family who have strong connections with the gnome to relocate it off of the property," the company said in a statement

Countdown to save Howard

Matewish said to void Howard's demolition she tried to fundraise to repair the gnome's platform herself. It looked for a while like Parkland would accept that deal, but then Matewish said she got an email: the company had experienced a change of heart for legal reasons.

She was told she'd have to remove the gnome by the end of April. Otherwise, Howard would be torn down.

Matewish is now looking for someone to offer the gnome a home. She posted photos of Howard on Facebook to try and find a solution, ideally in the same Oceanside community.

"He is part of the community here. We want to see him in a place where he's going to be appreciated and people are still going to be able to visit him," said Matewish, who still lives on the property behind the gas station and drives past Howard every day.

"[The response] has been so outrageously positive," she added. "I think that just shows he does have a place in the community and that he should stay."

With files from Jean Paetkau


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