When Bev York noticed one of her garden gnomes was missing eight months ago, she didn't think much more of it. Little did she know that he was off having the trip of a lifetime.
The runaway gnome was returned to her last week along with a hardcover bound book containing pictures from a journey which took him from his home in Vancouver Island to Mexico's Baja Peninsula.
Ms York, who lives in Victoria's Highlands in British Columbia, discovered the gnome and his travel diary in a bag, which had been carefully tied to her gate.
The mystery gnome poachers had renamed the jaunty fellow "Leopold the travelling gnome" and offered some explanation for his adventure: "Hi, my name is Leopold the travelling gnome. One morning back on December 15, I saw a motorhome toddle along Finlayson Arm Road and I thought to myself, 'There's got to be more to life than standing knee-deep in rainwater, being peed on by neighbourhood dogs and staring at the same view every single day.'"
Far from being offended, Ms York was delighted at her garden friend's adventure. She told CBC News British Columbia: "It is sweet. Whoever did it, I think, has a great sense of whimsy and [is] probably very nice."
She also commended the "hard work" that went in to making the "beautifully-bound book", which contains pictures of Leopold kicking back with a cocktail, posing with a cactus and having a nap with a mystery toddler.
The book ends with some sage advice: "Remember: adventure before dementia!".
Leopold, unusual though he is, is not the first gnome to set off the open road: the travelling gnome prank dates back to the 1980s, and there is even a Garden Gnome Liberation Front, dedicated to the purpose.
The idea was also brought to the public attention in French film Amelie, in which the eponymous heroine steals her father's garden gnome and sends him round the world, in an attempt to inspire her depressed father.
The idea of placing whimsical characters in exotic locations throughout the world is also a common trope on Instagram, where the adventures of plastic dinosaurs and stuffed toys attract thousands of followers.