The world’s tallest garden gnome is on his last legs in the Vancouver Island community of Nanoose Bay.

Known as Howard, the 7.91-metre-tall gnome has been a beloved local landmark for over 20 years, and would be for 20 more, if not for two huge problems: first, he’s got a rotten base. Second, its current owner, Calgary’s Parkland Fuel Corp., has said Howard will be dismantled by the end of April if he isn’t removed by then. 

In short, Howard may be on his last legs in Nanoose Bay, but if there’s any justice in the world, he’ll soon get a new base, and a new home base. One can only hope that another B.C. community steps up to restore and relocate the big guy. After all, this province is capable of big things, especially as it pertains to roadside attractions. It’s enough to make one wonder if the west coast was originally settled by giants.

To that end, here is a countdown of our favourite gigantic things from other B.C. municipalities.


READ MORE:Vancouver travel guide: 5 must-see attractions for tourists | B.C. Travel Bucket List: 7 places you must see in beautiful B.C.


10. World’s largest tin soldier — New Westminster

Like many B.C. communities, New Westminster finds itself competing with Vancouver and Vancouver Island for tourism dollars, and that’s a tough sell. How do you convince tourists to visit your city when Vancouver has everything? Simple. You offer something British Columbia’s largest city doesn’t have: British Columbia’s largest tin soldier, for instance. Vancouver may have Stanley Park, but they don’t have a single giant tin man. Embarrassing.


New Westminster’s tin soldier.

GLENN BAGLO /

VANCOUVER SUN

Installed in the year 2000, the Tin Soldier represents a Sergeant Major of the Royal Engineers Columbia Detachment. At 10 metres (32 feet) tall and weighing 4,540 kilograms, it’s the largest tin soldier in the world. It also features a time capsule, to be opened in the year 2025.

9. World’s largest burl – Port McNeill

Oh, your community has the world’s largest tin man? Bully for you. The northern Vancouver Island community of Port McNeill will do you one better. They’ve got the world’s largest burl, at six metres tall, six metres in diameter and weighing an estimated 30 tons. Feast your eyes on this flippin’ burl:



World’s Largest Burl, Port McNeil, BC. Mayor, Gerry Furney with the burl.

Vancouver Sun

For those that didn’t grow up in a logging town, a burl is a large knot found on the trunks of some trees, and if that’s new information to you, don’t admit it in Port McNeill, which is a very burl-focused city. Port McNeill has actually cornered the market on burls. They also boast the world’s second-largest burl, cut from a Sitka Spruce in 1976.


World’s Largest Burl in Port McNeill, BC.

Vancouver Sun

Pretty good burl. That one is the one on display, next to a sign claiming its the world’s largest, and it was, for a time. But then, in 2005, the community discovered the larger one, eight tons heavier, and now the world’s largest burl sits in a park next to downtown Port McNeill.

8. World’s (formerly) largest truck — Sparwood

How does one move a giant burl anyway? How about with a giant truck? The eastern B.C. logging community of Sparwood is the home of this green monster, the Terex Titan, which was once used to haul up to 320 tons of coal, lumber or other raw materials before it was retired in 1991 and put on display.


Formerly the world’s largest truck, in Sparwood BC.

Nick Procaylo /

PROVINCE

Now it’s an excellent roadside attraction, enticing drivers along the Crowsnest Highway to stop in and behold its majesty. Granted, the Titan isn’t the draw it once was, when it was the world’s largest truck at 7.8 meters wide and 6.9 meters high, but never you mind. Forget about the newer, larger trucks in Siberia and Belarus. When you see the Terex Titan, you won’t be thinking, ho hum, this is but the world’s third-largest truck. You’ll be thinking, damn, that’s a big-ass truck. Because it is, my friend. It truly is.

7. Great Hog of Freedom – Lytton

Speaking of gigantic vehicles, we take you next to the town of Lytton, which boasts three very large motorcycles, including the Great Hog of Freedom, which is just a great name for a giant motorcycle, especially if you can’t call it the world’s largest hog (both because it isn’t, and because it would just confuse people visiting the village in hopes of seeing a really big pig).


Ken Glasgow from Lytton, BC, stands atop his huge homemade motorcycle at Cloverdale Rodeo grounds.

Steve Bosch /

Vancouver Sun

The trio of big bikes was created by local artist Ken Glasgow, who originally set out to make half of one giant motorcycle, then decided he could make a whole giant motorcycle (1.5x the size of a normal Harley), then decided he could make a bigger giant motorcycle (twice the size), then decided he could make an even bigger giant motorcycle (three times the size).

One imagines there isn’t much to do in Lytton. But now there is: you can bear witness to the 24-foot long Great Hog of Freedom, as well as some of Glasgow’s other, non-motorcycle works of metal art.

6. World’s largest penny – Salmo

Canada may have retired the penny in 2012, but the village of Salmo in the west Kootenays can never completely quit the coin — not when they have the biggest one in the entire world just along the highway. Salmo’s eight-foot-tall penny was dedicated on July 1, 1995, Canada’s birthday, in honour of Penny Power, a campaign to collect pennies and donate them to the government of Canada to reduce the national debt.


Giant penny.

Not the greatest campaign, but at least it gave us the greatest penny.

5 – The Giant Peach – Penticton

It’s always seemed strange that it’s Penticton, and not nearby Peachland, that boasts this gigantic peach. If your city’s whole thing is peaches, why would you let another town out-peach you?


The beach at Okanagan Lake offers a peachy summer getaway.

Lucas Aykroyd /

PROVINCE

Beats me. But Penticton’s peach, located in Rotary Park on Okanagan Lake, is, well, an unimpeachable landmark. It’s also an ice cream shop, so if you thought perhaps the giant peach was the home to a boy named James and a bunch of oversized insects, think again. No huge bugs. Just milkshakes and the like, which is way better, I’d say.

One more fun fact about the peach before we go on: in 1991, after an MC Hammer concert, of all things, a group of unruly youths started a riot and rolled the peach into the lake. This is the problem with giant, spherical landmarks. No one is rolling the Terex Titan into the sea, I’ll tell you that much.

4. World’s largest cross-country skis — 100 Mile House

“Ever wanted to go skiing big-time? Have a look at these. The world’s largest cross-country skis.”

That’s what the narrator says in the above Youtube video, which marvels at the massive pair of cross-country skis that stand outside the South Cariboo Visitor Centre at 100 Mile House, and are the largest such skis in the world at 39 feet (12 metres). The poles are pretty impressive too, at 30 feet (9 metres) tall, and kudos to 100 Mile for including them. No seriously cross-country skier goes without poles, and if a giant comes along, he’s really going to appreciate that attention to detail.

It’s a fitting monument, as 100 Mile is a cross-country skier’s mecca, with more than 200 km of groomed trails, not to mention a whole lot of backcountry for the more adventurous skier.

3. World’s largest hockey stick – Duncan

The Vancouver Island community of Duncan is home to the world’s largest hockey stick (and puck) in the world. Built in 1985 from wooden beams and reinforced steel, and originally made for the entrance to the Canada Pavilion at Vancouver’s Expo ’86, the giant hockey stick found a home in Duncan two years later.


After a 20-year battle to get Canada’s largest hockey stick recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest, Duncan, a Vancouver Island town north of Victoria, is getting its wish. On July 14, the record keepers at Guinness will officially bestow the title of worldÕs largest on the 63 metre, 33 tonne wooden stick that once graced the entrance to Expo 86 in Vancouver as the newly built Skytrain zoomed beneath it. SARAH SIMPSON photo Cowichan Valley Citizen [PNG Merlin Archive]

Vancouver Sun

Incredibly, Duncan fought for nearly two decades to have the giant piece of equipment recognized as the biggest around. Prior to the Guinness Book of World Records honouring the town in July 2008, a Minnesota hockey stick held the official record. But their stick was just 69 feet long. Nice, sure, but it’s got nothing on Duncan in this stick-measuring contest. Duncan’s hockey stick is 205 feet long, 40 times the size of a normal stick, and weighs a shocking 61,000 pounds.

2. World’s largest cuckoo clock — Kimberley

You sort of expect a Canadian city to boast the largest hockey stick in the world. Even the largest pair of cross-country skis or the largest burl. But the most surprising record held by a B.C. town goes to southeast B.C.’s Kimberley, which boasts the world’s largest free-standing cuckoo clock, built in 1972.


The big cuckoo clock courtesy of the Kimberley Daily Bulletin.

Vancouver Sun

Fittingly, Kimberley is known as the Bavarian City of the Rockies, which may explain the clock. Or perhaps the clock is how they got the name. I’m not from there. Whatever the case, it’s a very big clock, standing 22-feet high and 12-feet wide.

Like Nanoose Bay, the clock is also home to a gnome. “Happy Hans” emerges from the clock in his leather shorts every hour on the hour for a quick yodel, and apparently, the roughly 7,500 locals really appreciate this.

1. World’s largest paddle — Golden

The southeast B.C. town of Golden has several big things: the highest bar stool in Canada, the longest free-standing timber frame bridge in Canada, and most importantly, the world’s largest paddle, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.


Columbia Wetlands Adventures in Golden has successfully set the new world record for ‘Largest Hand Paddle/Oar’ as stated in an email from Guinness World Records.

Dave Best | Best Impressions Photography /

PROVINCE Dave Best | Best Impressions Photography

Built in 2014, the paddle is 13 times larger than an actual oar, standing 2.8 metres (9 feet) high, 18 metres (60 feet) long and weighing 5,300 pounds.

The giant paddle is the brainchild of Mark Teasdale, the owner of wildlife tour company Columbia Wetlands Adventure. According to Teasdale, he wanted a business sign and decided on a paddle. From there, one imagines he was inspired by B.C.’s proven tradition of having stupidly huge versions of things, and the rest is recent history.

Kudos to Teasdale, although I must say how disappointing it is that the world’s largest paddle is in Golden, but is not itself golden. That seems like a missed opportunity. That said, gold is not good paddle material, and I wouldn’t trust a tour operator who thinks it is, so Teasdale did the right thing.

In closing, we must save Howard the giant gnome. There has to be a B.C. municipality looking to distinguish itself with a giant tourist attraction, or perhaps a second giant tourist attraction. Howard would look great next to those skis, for instance. Or maybe next to the Kimberley cuckoo clock, where he’d have another gnome’s company to enjoy.

hmooney@postmedia.com


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