After 21 years, Halifax’s favourite anthropomorphic tugboat has left the city for a new adventure.
Theodore Too — with his red ball cap, bulbous nose and friendly smile — has long been an iconic figure, often seen bobbing in the water of the Halifax harbour or making appearances in photos.
Flanked by a flotilla on Thursday morning, the little boat sailed out of the Big Harbour, en route to his new home at the Port of Hamilton in Ontario.
The vessel 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.
The tugboat’s new owner, Blair McKeil of McKeil Marine, told Global News that even though Theodore is leaving the Maritimes, his heart will always be in Halifax.
“He was raised in the Maritimes, he was born in the Maritimes and he’ll always be a part of the Maritimes,” McKeil said.
“I think the beautiful thing is, just like our own children, we want them to grow up and do something meaningful. Theodore is now 21. He’s becoming a young adult and he has a very important mission, and that’s really to share how great the people and the culture are in the Maritimes.”
Ambassatours announced in July 2020 that it decided to part ways with the vessel after 20 years of ownership and listed the boat for $495,000.
At his new home, Theodore Too will collaborate with Swim Drink Fish, a water education and conservation advocacy group, and will promote sustainability and preservation of the Great Lakes.
“As guardians and stewards of 20 per cent of the world’s fresh water, we have an enormous accountability to ensure it is swimmable, drinkable and fishable,” said Mark Mattson, president of Swim Drink Fish, in a release.
“Building connections with the water is a critical step in engaging us all as their guardians. Theodore loves the water as much as we do. He’s the perfect ambassador for our Great Lakes Guide which is focused on helping Canadians of all ages and backgrounds from urban cities to rural communities to get to the water’s edge.”
The boat will be converted to biodiesel, “signalling his future efforts as a sustainability champion,” said the release.
In his new role, Theodore Too will also try to encourage kids to choose marine industry careers.
The vessel, operated by a four-person crew, is expected to arrive at his new home by July 1, with some stops along the way.