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Vancouver Island Icons: Who Are They Really?

Vancouver Island Icons: Who Are They Really?

It’s tough work being an icon. On the Island, they’ve been on the front lines of environmental activism, body slammed on the ice, and woefully torn down from the side of the highway. We tracked down a few of Vancouver Island’s most prominent icons to see what they’re up to today.

Howard the Gnome

Photo: Times Colonist/Darren Stone

Who are they? The world’s tallest gnome. Howard is 18 metres tall, winning him a spot in the Guiness Book of World Records. He was previously Nanoose Bay’s most popular roadside attraction.

What are they known for? In the spring of this year, Howard was put up for sale. His previous owners declared that “due to legal reasons” they no longer want Howard on their property. What they don’t want you to know is that Howard was caught stealing cabbage from a local farm. Gnomes, typically small creatures, are good at creeping around at night. Unluckily for Howard, his prominent size gave him away.

Where are they now? Howard was recently purchased by Galey Farms in Victoria. However, representatives from Galey’s have been elusive about their plans for Howard. Is he up to his old shenanigans? Can Howard’s thievery be contained?


Photo: Yonni’s Doughnuts

Who are they? A puffy pink pastry that adorns the windows of Yonni’s Doughnuts in Victoria. Yonni is sweet, with a charming lopsided grin; he has a touch of vanity and never leaves home without being perfectly frosted.

What are they known for? For the most part, Yonni has come to terms with his role as a tantalizing doughnut whose pretty exterior is used to entice customers. But on June 22, after being purchased from the Discovery Street location, something behind Yonni’s frosting cracked. A customer commented on a scarcity of sprinkles, and he decided to make a run for it. He rolled off the table and ran down the street, his little arms and legs flailing. 

Where are they now? Yonni has since calmed down and gotten in touch with his higher self. He has come to terms with the fact that he does not have to look perfect all the time, because it is what is inside—whether it’s earl-grey filling or delicious dough—that matters. Being frosted isn’t a bad thing (it is a part of his diverse self-care routine), but ultimately, it is the joy he brings to others that makes him shine.

Marty the Marmot

Photo: Victoria Royals

Who are they? Marty is the mascot for the Victoria Royals junior hockey team. He won Mascot Insider’s favorite mascot of the year in 2013, thanks to his large fan base and philanthropic endeavors. However, Marty’s fame came at a price.

What are they known for? A few years back, Marty got body slammed into the ice by a disruptive fan during a game of musical chairs. This occurred only three months after he was named mascot of the year and just days after his eighth birthday. Was the attacker a jealous rival mascot in disguise as a human? We’ll never know. 

Where are they now? After the body slam, Marty suffered some minor injuries to his back. He spent time in his burrow to recuperate, and soon returned to his usual routine of raising money for philanthropic endeavors and cheering on the Victoria Royals.

Herb from Hempology 101

Photo: Weed Guide

Who are they? Herb is the giant weed leaf that used to attend University of Victoria’s Hempology 101 meetings, which still happen every Wednesday at 4:20. This is the largest and most successful student club at UVic.

What are they known for? Herb first gained attention by provoking security at UVic’s campus for smoking marijuana before it was legalized. At the Hempology 101 meetings, he’d hit the bong and help the founder, Ted Smith, destigmatize marijuana use. Together, they advocated to have the 4:20 gatherings declared a cultural tradition, thus granting them exemption from smoking bylaws and allowing the group to smoke up before weed was federally legalized. 

Where are they now? Now that marijuana is legal, Herb has been relaxing and smoking bud, satisfied with the part he played in advocating for legalization. He moved to Vancouver, where he has stayed active by attending legalization parties. He’s currently training to run a 10-kilometre marathon next spring on the Island—a race he completed in 2016, in part to challenge the misconception that Cannabis use is part of an unhealthy lifestyle. If you’re lucky, you can see him competing this April a few days after 4/20. Just look for the giant pot leaf. 

Mr. Floatie

Photo: Canadian Press/Don Denton

Who are they? Mr. Floatie is a giant turd and environmental activist. He was the former face of P.O.O.P., a movement for People Opposed to Outfall Pollution. 

What are they known for? He’s known for being Victoria’s stinky yet smiley excrement, discharged into the world in 2004. After a frightening experience in the sewers, Mr. Floatie immediately began raising awareness of the issues related to dumping sewage into the ocean. He became the spokesperson for P.O.O.P. and pushed for nomination as the city’s mayor. 

Where are they now? In 2017, with the wastewater treatment plant at McLoughlin Point in the works, Mr. Floatie retired. But that doesn’t mean he’s been backed-up. According to his Facebook Page, Mr. Floatie, as he bobs around in wait, has continued to host community events and brownie bake sales, has toured the United States, and even won the Miss Outfall Pageant. One thing is for sure: Mr. Floatie has left a mark on this city that’s not easily wiped away.

Did we miss a beloved icon? Email us at breakwatermag@gmail.com

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