This August, Friends of the St. Clair River (Ontario) was proud to sponsor Theodore TOO Tugboat’s visit to Mooretown and Sarnia. We had lots of questions for the captain and the crew! Over the next few months, we will be releasing a series of articles to share some “fun facts” and nostalgia with our readers.
The McKeil family from Hamilton, Ontario is a Canadian marine dynasty, operating since 1956. They have a vision for our friendly little tug boat.
“There’s a big story to tell and our hope is for Theodore TOO to bring awareness to both sailing and shore-based job opportunities, shining a bright light on industries supporting Canada’s supply chain including ports, cargo terminals, shipyards, offshore supply bases and shore-based manufacturing.”
Childhood is filled with memories of friends, both real and imaginary. So reinvigorating the spirit of friendship through a multigenerational idol appears to have strong resonance in our communities. Theodore TOO becomes a tool to educate, promote and appreciate all the benefits of the Great Lakes watershed, according to Captain Caitlyn Simpson.
“It’s always great to hear adults reminisce about watching the show as a kid, or WITH their kids. But my favorite is when young children come up and tell me how much they enjoy the show and share their favorite character.”
The show’s last episode aired in 2000, so “it’s amazing to see the impact it continues to make on kids today.”
On a more practical level which relates to the economy, our friendly tug boat can promote the marine industry and variety of careers. There are huge economic impacts according to the captain.
“The shipping industry cannot exist without the people that work in this industry. That includes our friend Theodore. Those who are working in the industry now are getting to retirement age and we NEED new individuals to take up the mantle and keep this industry going. We need deckhands, engineers and officers to work on boats like Theodore, but we also need people to work in support roles. No boat is an island, we rely on shore services from fueling up to going through the locks to long term stays in drydock. This isn’t even including the skilled individuals behind designing and building new ships and facilities to keep this industry moving forward.”
The original Theodore program had Emily “the Vigorous” the only female in the fleet although there were other female boats in the harbour, such as Pearl and Petra, the pilot boats. We asked Captain Caitlyn about her role as a female in a male oriented industry.
“Lead by example. Just being a woman in the industry is showing young girls and women that it is possible to work and thrive in the marine industry. For the industry? Providing support systems to women to help them advance, to help them feel safe and to make sure they have equal representation. There needs to be more groups of women actively recruiting women.”
The McKeil family is incredibly humbled and proud to be a part of Theodore TOO’s legacy and exciting future helping an entire sector and waterways continue to flourish on what will be a sustainable and competitive tide while helping to pass along Canada’s rich land and sea knowledge, history, and skills to future generations.
Stay tuned for the next article “Swimmable, Drinkable, Fishable”, how Theo TOO helps the local communities to promote the benefits and beauty of the Great Lakes environment.