Howard, the giant, eight-metre gnome that has spent the past two decades along Highway 19 near Nanoose Bay, has found a new home at a family farm in Saanich and some people are disappointed the iconic figure won’t be staying closer to ‘home’.
Howard’s fate was put in jeopardy last month when the property owners of the Chevron gas station, where he’s stood since 1998, announced he needed to be moved by April 30 or he’d be torn down.
Bridget Matewish, granddaughter of the man who built Howard, Ron Hale, said due to legal reasons Howard had to find a new home.
Last week, a shortlist of five potential new homes for Howard was released, three of which were in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area.
The list included Treasures, Curios and RV Park in Coombs, the Log Cabin General Store in Parksville, Fast Time Grand Prix in Parksville, White River Resort in Sayward and Galey Farms in Saanich—where Howard will be moved as soon as possible.
Pauline Nelsen, owner of Treasures, Curios and RV Park on Winchester Road in Coombs, said she’s “very disappointed” Howard isn’t going to be living on her property.
“Why would he go to Saanich? I thought they wanted to keep him local,” Nelsen said. “I was disappointed when [the family] told me I didn’t have [Howard] but I thought ‘well, cool at last one of the other places around here got it’. I’m not very happy about it at all now that I know it’s going to Saanich.”
Nelsen thinks Howard would have fit perfectly in Coombs.
Norm Spann, owner of Fast Time Grand Prix in Parksville (1460 Springhill Rd.) said he’s also disappointed Howard isn’t staying local but has no hard feelings.
“I had a call from the family this morning, and understandably it would have been a tough decision where [Howard] should go,” Spann said. “It’s unfortunate that Howard’s going to be leaving the community but I did mention to the family if anything should change for them or any challenges arise let me know and I certainly would welcome having Howard here and I obviously think it would have been a great fit.”
There’s been a mixed bag of reaction on social media with some people showing support and excitement that Howard will be in Saanich and others saying they wish he’d be staying closer to home.
“Safe travels Howard. Would have been nice if he could’ve stayed a little closer to home,” said Michelle Armstrong on the PQB NEWS Facebook page.
“Good spot, just too bad he couldn’t stay local,” Chris Mclean wrote.
Matewish said she and her family ultimately decided on Galey Farms because they felt it had the most longevity and that her grandparents would think it was the best location for Howard.