Crews were at the Chevron Gas station in Nanoose Bay on May 9, deconstructing Howard. He came apart in four pieces—hat,head, torso and legs—and was secured to two moving trucks using a crane. He is headed south, to be refurbished andeventually placed on display at the family-focused Galey Farms in Saanich.
“We didn’t know what we were getting into but things went really well,” said Rob Galey of Galey Farms. “We brought up somany tools, we’ve got a really good crew here and did everything by the books.”
Galey said they ran into one challenge while deconstructing Howard—his torso was too wide.
“We had to remove one arm, he was not going down the highway, he was way too wide,” Galey said. “But that’s OK, he’s going to hit the shop, we’re going to take him apart anyway.
“He didn’t come apart as easy as I was told, we had to make some incisions in the hat to get started and after that we hadheavy frame and we were able to loop onto him and the crane was able to lift him right up no problem.”
Galey said Howard’s body weighs approximatey 1,100 pounds. He said his plan is to refurbish Howard and make his arm andeyelashes move.
Howard had stood tall at eight metres along the Island Highway since 1998, when he was built by Ron Hale. Howard was usedas the mascot for the amusement park that Hale’s family once owned at the property that is now the gas station.
Earlier this year, the owners of the gas station told Hale’s granddaughter, Bridget Matewish, that Howard needed to beremoved from the property due to legal reasons. Not wanting to tear down the iconic gnome, Matewish took to social mediato find Howard a new home.
After hundreds of suitors showed interest to home Howard, Matewish decided on Galey Farms because she believes he’ll havethe most longevity there and her family wanted him to stay on Vancouver Island.
“I’m really excited for [Howard], I think it’s going to be rally great seeing him go to his new home,” Matewish said as Howardwas coming down behind her. “It’s bittersweet but it’s definitely really exciting and I think he’s going to be really well takencare of where he’s going.”
Before being put back together at Galey Farms, Galey said he has to meet with the District of Saanich officials, who believe thegnome is 16 inches too tall.
“He’s in the Guinness Book of World Records, and I don’t plan on de-crowning him of his title,” said Galey. “Sixteen inches isnothing.”
Galey didn’t make it clear why Saanich objects to Howard’s height, saying “there are some issues.”
“I don’t really want to get into it at this time. I’m going back to Saanich and we are going to have to find a solution.”
For now, Howard will go to several different warehouses in the Greater Vctoria area.
“I’m not even saying which warehouses he’s going to,” said Galey. “He is going to different places. Different people will beworking on him and he will not be viewable to the public at all.”
The goal is to have Howard set up at the farm in time for their popular Pumpkin Festival in October. He will be set up near thefarm’s railroad where he will be viewable by everyone.
“It’s pretty cool that so many people love this gnome and I am so proud to see him coming to the farm,” Galey said. “I’m reallyexcited to bring this to Saanich.”