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Tugging at our heartstrings: Nova Scotia's icon Theodore Tugboat moving to Ontario

The life-sized replica of Theodore Tugboat, the star of a popular children's TV show, is being sold after 20 years of touring Halifax's harbour. But as Jesse Thomas reports, locals are fundraising to keep the iconic vessel in Atlantic waters.

From Halifax to Hamilton, the iconic Theodore Tugboat is sailing way.

The iconic vessel has been bought by Blair McKeil, founder of McKeil Marine, after spending more than two decades in the Halifax Harbour.

Once he arrives in Hamilton, Theodore will embark on commercial trips across the Great Lakes and Atlantic Canada.

McKeil, who has strong ties to Nova Scotia, said in the release he bought the vessel in hopes of encouraging youth to choose marine industry careers.

“We really need Theodore’s help to engage young people across the country, to raise more awareness of the very satisfying and lucrative marine career options available,” he said in a statement.

“He’ll be a very busy 21-year old- traveling, port to port, with such promotions, and, of course, he’ll continue to be an ambassador for the Maritimes and Nova Scotia throughout.”

Ambassatours announced July 16 2020 that it has decided to part ways with the vessel after 20 years of ownership.

“Everyone loves Theodore and we’ve had a good run with him,” says Dennis Campbell, CEO of Ambassatours.

Read more:
Ambassatours puts Halifax’s iconic Theodore Tugboat up for sale

The sale of the vessel ended up being the silver lining in this journey, Campbell said.

“We could not find a better buyer anywhere in Canada than Blair McKeil. We had many, many offers from everywhere in the world, and we had some strange offers.

But Blair has roots in Nova Scotia … he’s done very well in business and has a lot of business interest here in Halifax.”

Campbell said the buyer was chosen because of his intentions for the vessel.

“Theodore can travel around and do a lot of good… Blair has also agreed to have Theodore be an ambassador for Nova Scotia.

“Tourism Nova Scotia is also involved in these plans and will provide on-board literature.”

 

The boat was built in 2000 as a life-sized replica of Theodore Tugboat, the title character of a CBC children’s TV show that aired from 1993 to 2001. Since then, Theodore has spent summers hosting children’s tours of the Halifax harbour, as well as cruising the Great Lakes and seaboard in the U.S. and Canada, promoting Nova Scotian tourism.

Although Theodore is headed west, Campbell said he is confident the boat will return to the Maritimes. According to him,  the buyer has agreed to have Theodore come back to Nova Scotia during large festivals and events.

“We’ve talked to the Maritime Museum and they’ve agreed that when Theodore comes back, we’ll make a really big deal about it,” said Campbell, adding it’s something to look forward to post-pandemic.

He also said that McKeil, who owns shipyards, will repair Theodore and ensure that he stays afloat for many years to come.

“How could the story end any better?”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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