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Ambassatours puts Halifax’s iconic Theodore Tugboat up for sale

Halifax’s iconic Theodore Tugboat up for sale
WATCH ABOVE: 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.

Ambassatours Gray Line is parting ways with the Halifax’s iconic Theodore (Tugboat) Too vessel.

After operating the vessel for 20 years, the tourism group listed Halifax Harbour’s best-known resident for sale this week, with a $495,000 price tag.

“While we are deeply aware of Theodore’s significance as a Halifax icon, the reality is that we’ve been subsidizing Theodore’s operation for several years,” said Dennis Campbell, Ambassatours Gray Line CEO, in a news release.

Read more: Atlantic provinces encouraging staycations as they compete for local tourism dollars

The vessel was built in 2000, in Dayspring, N.S., 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 cruising the Great Lakes and seaboard in U.S. and Canada, promoting Nova Scotian tourism.

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Theodore Tugboat becomes Halifax Harbour’s Welcome Ambassador
Theodore Tugboat becomes Halifax Harbour’s Welcome Ambassador

It also hosted child-themed tours of the Halifax harbour, as inspired by the show’s characters and stories, according to the release.

Now, most of the children who watched the show are in their 30s, said Campbell in the release.

Read more: Sorry, Halifax: Theodore Tugboat is enjoying its fame in Saint John

“Demand for TV-show themed Theodore tours of the Halifax harbour has significantly diminished over the past several years,” Campbell said.

Campbell said a new owner of the 49-passenger vessel could use it for a waterside café or pub, an event venue, summer ferry or a unique AirBnB.

There’s already a GoFundMe  page set up, looking to purchase the vessel and donate it to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic or the Halifax Regional Municipality says Anastasia Cook, a 23-year-old video game developer who grew up watching the popular children’s show.

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“Halifax is definitely its (Theodore Too’s) home and it’s going to be unfortunate to go down to the harbor and to not be able to see his smiling face,” said Cook.  “Some people think it’s creepy but I think it’s quirky and fun so.”

The online fundraiser has brought in nearly $1,000 in its first day and Cook says if they don’t reach the goal of $495, 000 then they’ll look to donate the money towards a future beautification project for the Halifax waterfront.

While Theodore is no longer offering tours of the harbour, the vessel will remain dockside in Bedford until it is sold.