Howard the Gnome has found a new home at Galey Farms.
Rob Galey confirmed the eight-metre-tall gnome that’s stood at a gas station along the Island Highway in Nanoose Bay since 1998 will join the Sphinx, pirate ship, Old West town, corn maze and train that draw thousands of visitors to Galey Farms on Blenkinsop Road each year. The farm also features the destination pumpkin patch, tractor-pulled hay ride, petting zoo and haunted house.
“Howard is the perfect fit for Galeys,” Galey said on Tuesday morning. “We can [maintain] him in house, we have David Gray, who’s a mastermind on staff with these kinds of structures.”
Though the gnome is being gifted to Galey, there was a bid process to show it was the right fit. Galey wants to begin taking it apart this weekend and hopes to have it up for the fall Pumpkinfest, peak season at Galey Farms. However, it will involve a proper breakdown to assess Howard before refitting him.
Most of the structures, the Sphinx, the Old West town and the pirate ship, were all purpose-built by Galey’s crew.
“A few pieces from the Old West town were acquired from set sales but we built the sphinx and pyramid from scratch, and the pirate-ship from scratch, and that was a big deal,” Galey said.
Bridget Matewish has led the campaign to find Howard a new owner. It was her grandfather Ron Hale who built Howard in 1998. Last week, five finalists were revealed: the White River Resort in Sayward, Treasures, Curios and RV Park in Coombs, the Log Cabin General Store in Parksville, Fast Time Grand Prix in Parksville and Galey Farms in Saanich.
“We were blown away by the response and support for Howard,” Matewish said. “We’ve had people reach out from all across Canada and even a handful of the States.”
Galey’s functioning farm is equally famous in Victoria for its pumpkins and strawberries, and also produces a full variety of veggies and fruit on Blenkinsop as well as other sites around the region. It is approved for family destination zoning, known as agri-tourism.
Getting Howard home will be the first obstacle, Galey said.
“Howard’s been let go a bit. I understand he will travel in four pieces, the hat comes off, the head, the mid body and the lower body,” Galey said. “He will be in the shop all spring and summer getting fixed. He won’t be visible until the fall.”
Safety is priority one with an eight-metre-tall structure, he added.
“He has to be structurally sound enough to be put back together,” Galey said. “Whatever he needs, we’ll have to repair it and get it structurally approved. We might also coat him in fibreglass to make him even stronger.
Galey said one part of the deal is to keep Howard green.
“We also want to get his [right] arm waving because everything at the farm moves, walks, flies or talks,” Galey said.
For now, Galey has a few ideas where to put Howard but he’s unsure which is best. Certainly he’ll need to be accessible for photos and he won’t be by the road.
Most importantly Howard will stand along the train track, so that people of all mobility levels will have access to him.