News & Press Releases
Ambassatours Gray Line
Theodore Tugboat to Become Marine Career Ambassador
Issued: March 26, 2021 | Halifax, Nova Scotia
Today we are announcing that Nova Scotia’s life-sized TV replica tugboat, Theodore Too, has been acquired by Blair McKeil (founder of McKeil Marine, one of Canada’s leading marine service providers). In his new role, Theodore will embark on new promotional missions, spanning ports throughout the Great Lakes and Atlantic Canada. Theodore’s new owner, Blair McKeil has deep connections to the Maritimes and, specifically, Nova Scotia. His paternal grandfather and his father hail from Pugwash, and his maternal grandfather was from Cape Breton. McKeil is a regular visitor to Nova Scotia and has business interests in the province. McKeil’s strong personal interest in encouraging youth to choose marine industry careers prompted him to invite Theodore to join the cause. “We really need Theodore’s help engaging more awareness among young people, of the very satisfying and lucrative marine career options available,” said Blair McKeil, “Theodore will 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.”. Theodore’s launching point for these promotional missions will his new homeport: Hamilton, Ontario. According to the Canadian Marine Industry Foundation (CMIF), the Canadian marine sector is facing a severe labour shortage within the next decade, the impacts of which are already being felt in the industry. The CMIF estimates that over 10,000 new employees will be required to replace retiring captains, officers, marine port workers and engineers. “When we listed Theodore for sale several months ago, we focused on helping him create a new chapter that would harmonize with his roots,” said Dennis Campbell, CEO, Ambassatours Gray Line, “While fielding inquiries from all over the world, it was the offer from Blair McKeil that felt like the best fit for Theodore’s personality, experience and potential.” Although Theodore will soon be based in Hamilton, Campbell is confident that Maritimers will still see Theodore during his port to port promotional tours. It is also expected that Theodore will continue his philanthropic activities. Prior to becoming a Halifax Harbour tour vessel (operated by Murphy’s and Ambassatours), Theodore spent many summers plying the Great Lakes (with other Canadian ports in between), and down the full expanse of the US eastern seaboard (as far as Florida) representing and promoting Nova Scotia as a destination. Theodore is expected to depart for Hamilton later this spring - his specific departure date subject to weather and inter-provincial Covid protocols.
Atlantic Tour Company Expands to Ontario
Ambassatours Gray Line Acquires Double Deck Tours in Niagara Falls
Issued: November 16, 2018 | Halifax, Nova Scotia
Ambassatours Gray Line, Atlantic Canada’s largest sightseeing tour company announces an expansion to Ontario, with the purchase of Double Deck Tours in Niagara Falls. The acquisition adds 12 classic British double decker buses to the company’s existing livery of 25, solidifying Ambassatours Gray Line as the world’s largest owner and operator of vintage Routemaster double deckers. “This acquisition is a unique opportunity to be part of the Ontario tourism landscape, in such an iconic location as Niagara Falls,” said Dennis Campbell, CEO, Ambassatours Gray Line, “We are no stranger to such highly, sought-after, British double decker tour experiences, having operated themed touring aboard them here in the Maritimes throughout our company’s 31 year history.” Ambassatours purchased Double Deck Tours from Bert Watson, whose family has owned and operated Niagara’s oldest sightseeing tour company for 54 years, over three generations. The purchase was finalized on November 1, 2018. “From the start, we felt we could trust Ambassatours to honour our half century commitment to presenting Niagara Falls through the unique vantage points afforded by our classic double decker buses,” said Bert Watson, owner, Double Deck Tours,”We share the same values and passion for double deck touring, which makes us very excited to see how Ambassatours will grow and develop our already successful company.” With an employment roster of 15 seasonal staff required, Ambassatours is named the founder’s grandson, Dustin Watson as Service Manager for Double Deck Tours, Niagara Falls. Ambassatours’ senior executive, Terri McCulloch, will be moving to Niagara in the Spring of 2019 to to join the team as General Manager for the season. “As we’ve set the wheels in motion for the transition, we’ve been delighted by the warm welcome we’ve received thus far from the industry colleagues,” said Campbell, “It is an intriguing market for us, and the Niagara Parks Commission, as well as the many established partners of Double Deck Tours, have been very supportive of our arrival.” Double Deck Tours will continue to operate in Niagara Falls under its well-established brand. Its roster of daily sightseeing tours and charters is expected to expand under Ambassatours’ guidance. Currently, Ambassatours Gray Line offers daily sightseeing and cruise excursions aboard Routemaster double deckers seasonally in Saint John, New Brunswick, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. While the deal to purchase Double Deck Tours was underway this summer, Ambassatours began with an exploratory foray into the Niagara region market with a Magic Winery Bus hop on, hop off experience. This experience was offered in partnership with the existing Wolfville Magic Winery Bus organization, to whom Ambassatours supplies vintage double decker buses in Nova Scotia.
Saint John Welcomes Theodore Too
Popular Attraction To Operate in New Brunswick This Season
Issued: May 17, 2018 | Halifax, Nova Scotia
Iconic harbour ambassador, Theodore Too will be travelling to Saint John, New Brunswick, to deliver tours throughout the 2018 season. The announcement came today from Ambassatours Gray Line, owners of Theodore Too, in a joint release with New Brunswick partners. “It’s been awhile since Theodore has ventured out of Halifax but we know he has a huge fan base in every province across the country”, said Dennis Campbell, CEO, Ambassatours Gray Line, “When the opportunity came up to have him go to Saint John to meet new friends and ‘work’ in their busy harbour this season, we wanted to make that happen for him.” Theodore Too has previously spent time in several Canadian and U.S. destinations as a tourist attraction and water safety promoter, including Montreal and Quebec City, and he has also undertaken a 50-city tour along the eastern seaboard to Tampa Bay, and back, through the Great Lakes to Chicago and Toronto. “We are excited to welcome Theodore Tugboat to the Saint John waterfront this Summer and Fall. Visitors and residents will have opportunity to experience new water-based tour product this year. The Bay of Fundy Cruise Partnership, which includes Discover Saint John, is at the core of making this possible and we thank our partners and Ambassatours for working with us on this project,” said Jim Quinn, President & CEO, Port Saint John. While in Saint John, Theodore will host Gray Line-quality daily family and public harbour tours, as well as cruise excursions, from early June through to the end of cruise season in October. Theodore will also be available for groups, for private charter, and on several occasions will go to the mouth of the harbour to welcome cruise ships on their inaugural visits. He will be moored at Pugsley Slip on Water Street. “We are delighted to be working with our partners to support Theodore’s ‘new job’ in the Saint John harbour,” said Victoria Clarke, Executive Director, Discover Saint John, “His iconic red cap and friendly face will animate our port and will create great memories for our #SaintAwesome guests.” Theodore Too is a life-sized passenger-carrying tugboat, with a capacity of 59 guests. He is based on the title character of the popular children’s television show, Theodore Tugboat, which aired on CBC in Canada, and PBS in the USA. Tour tickets for Theodore Too are now available online through Ambassatours.com and will be sold on-site from a custom-built kiosk adjacent to the Coast Guard Station on Water Street once Theodore arrives in early June. Tickets will also be available at Barbour’s Store in Uptown. Ambassatours Gray Line is developing custom tours for Theodore, and will be hiring local captains and guides to deliver the experiences.
Farwell Leaves Ambassatours to focus On Amphibious Vehicle Manufacturing
Issued: January 20, 2017 | Halifax, Nova Scotia
Atlantic Canada’s premiere tour company, Ambassatours Gray Line’s CEO Dennis Campbell, has announced that its President, Jeff Farwell, is leaving the company to return to his entrepreneurial roots: manufacturing new amphibious vehicles.
“We have been proud to grow Murphy’s within the Ambassatours family over the last couple of years since our merger,” said Dennis Campbell, CEO Ambassatours Gray Line. “We wish Jeff all the best with his new endeavours and we look forward to continuing to enhance Murphy’s as a key segment of our tour company.”
Ambassatours and Murphy’s the Cable Wharf joined forces in 2014. Since then, they have been implementing new innovations to their amphibious vehicles, the Harbour Hoppers, to stay at the cutting edge of the water touring business. The Ambassatours marine team, lead by Farwell, worked with the Nova Scotia Community College to completely redesign and refurbish two Harbour Hoppers in time for a summer 2017 launch. Improvements include: bigger overall size, more stability, new engines, new drive trains, new operating systems, better passenger comforts, and wheelchair access
In his new venture, Farwell intends to manufacture amphibious vehicles, based on a prototype developed during the refurbishment of the Ambassatours’ Harbour Hoppers.
“The merger with Ambassatours has been a great thing for Murphy’s,” noted Jeff Farwell, “Personally, now, I’m excited to pursue the unique opportunity to manufacture these units for eager worldwide markets.”
Following this partner buyout on January 20th, Ambassatours Gray Line and Murphy’s the Cable Wharf will continue business as usual with Dennis Campbell remaining CEO and majority shareholder, and Mary Dempster, COO, and Sean Buckland, Director of Sales as minority shareholders. Sarah Godin continues as Murphy’s Operations Manager, a position she has held since the merger in August 2014.
Regional Firefighters Help Theodore Tugboat
Issued: August 17, 2015 | Halifax, Nova Scotia
Sometimes even our big, strong friends need a helping hand. Theodore Tugboat was concerned that his faded red cap was affecting his ability to continue to be the best Nova Scotia ambassador he could possibly be. That’s when regional firefighters, along with two local businesses, reached out to give their friend Theodore Tugboat a refresh. On Thursday, August 4th, a voluntary team of seven firefighters, along with their Chief and an aerial platform, stopped by the Cable Wharf on the Halifax waterfront for a few hours to give Theodore’s hat a much-needed coat of paint. “When I heard Theodore needed a paint job I figured who better to provide it than Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency. Afterall, we’re both in the business of helping people out of tough situations,” said Fire Chief Doug Trussler. “Both Theodore and firefighters instinctively jump into dangerous situations to make people’s lives better.” As a fully functioning 105-tonne tugboat, stretching 40 feet high, 65 feet long, with a cap measuring 15 feet in diameter, the task of re-coating Theodore’s cap is no easy feat. “Theodore’s important work in the Big Harbour requires him to be outdoors, exposed to four seasons of weather,” said Mitch Owens, Theodore’s captain, “After this particular winter, it became quite obvious that it had been ten years since his cap had received a fresh coat of paint.” International Paints Akzo Nobel, in Burnside, donated Theodore’s hat paint (annually donating paint for Theodore’s general upkeep as well) and Atlantic Cat offers him an annual engine check. Supervising the painting of Theodore’s cap on Thursday morning were twenty-five preschoolers from St Joseph’s Day Care , who were invited as special guests by Murphy’s to a dockside viewing area adjacent to where the work was being done. “Firefighters, plus a fire truck, plus Theodore getting his hat painted was almost too much excitement for these kids!”, laughed Jeff Farwell, one of the owners of Murphy’s, “They had so much fun and we were so pleased to host them and to gift them with a small Theodore-themed souvenir.” As the star of the popular children’s television show, Theodore Tugboat, which aired for nine years, he has become an icon for the people of Halifax. From his base at Murphy’s the Cable Wharf, Theodore takes children and their families, as well as school groups, on daily tours throughout Halifax harbour from May to October, but he keeps watch over the harbour year-round.
Popular Local Attractions Pair Wines & Cuisine for Themed Sailing
Issued: July 10, 2015 | Halifax, Nova Scotia
Visitors seeking to use their time wisely in Halifax can now enjoy three essential elements of a Nova Scotia vacation within two compact hours on the city’s waterfront. Murphy’s the Cable Wharf pairs with Pete Luckett’s valley winery, Luckett Vineyards, on Wednesday evenings to deliver “Wines on the Water” food & wine tastings. “This experience delivers the memorable combination of quintessential Nova Scotia activities that guests are seeking.” said Jeff Farwell, President of Murphy’s (now merged with Ambassatours Gray Line), “Since we launched two weeks ago, the response has been phenomenal with brisk ticket sales and great #winesonthewater buzz on social media.” Wines on the Water pairs five different Luckett Vineyards’ wines with five signature Nova Scotia food courses, all paced throughout a two-hour sailing aboard the Tall Ship Silva, Murphy’s restored 130 foot, 1930s schooner. “Our partnership with Murphy’s is a splendid opportunity to expose both visitors and locals to the delightful varieties of Nova Scotia wines”, noted Pete Luckett, owner of Luckett Vineyards, “Wine, along with specially-selected food pairings aboard such a charming venue, have quickly made this the hottest ticket in town.” The weekly event is co-hosted aboard the Silva by Luckett Vineyards winemakers and Murphy’s guest chefs. Add live entertainment and this experience morphs into a friendly, floating, if somewhat chic, kitchen party. “The Murphy’s-Luckett combination of wine, cuisine and sailing is unique, and delivers all the elements of a memorable, themed, instagramable experience,” said Glenn Squires, Chair of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia, “To grow tourism in this province we need more of these creative partnerships that deliver innovative experiences of a world-wide calibre,”
Murphy’s - Ambassatours Merger creates one of Canada’s Largest Sightseeing Tour Companies
Issued: August 13, 2013 | Halifax, Nova Scotia
Atlantic Canada’s premiere motor coach and tour company, Ambassatours Gray Line, has announced that it will welcome Murphy’s The Cable Wharf into its company fold, effective immediately. Ambassatours Gray Line President & CEO, Dennis Campbell, along with longtime Murphy’s CEO, Jeff Farwell, made the announcement today at Murphy’s waterfront restaurant in Halifax. “This merger establishes us as Canada’s largest and most diverse sightseeing tour company and provides us with a dynamic foundation for growing new markets”, said Dennis Campbell, “Murphy’s legacy of creating and delivering outstanding guest experiences completely harmonizes with our company’s philosophy and focus.” “Gray Line Halifax has done an incredible job of creating memorable destination experiences and is now unique among our worldwide Gray Line companies: offering both amphibious and tall ship tours, as well as antique double decker and motorcoach tours,” said Brad Weber, CEO Gray Line Worldwide, “This is merger is a huge accomplishment and a very welcome addition to the Gray Line product offering of over 3,500 tours and experiences in 200 cities around the world.” “We are very excited to bring these two companies together,” said Jeff Farwell, Murphy’s CEO, who has lead the growth of Murphy’s over the past 10 years, “Dennis and I, as industry leaders, are both optimistic and energized about the continued growth and vitality of tourism in the region. We look forward to keeping Atlantic Canada in the tourism spotlight as we continue to innovate and grow our business together.” Murphy’s established fleet of vessels deliver a wide range of Halifax harbour tour experiences aboard eleven vessels for groups and individuals. Well-known vessels include: Theodore Tugboat, Harbour Hopper, Mar, The Tall Ship Silva, and the Harbour Queen. Ambassatours Gray Line (known as the “Company With The Kilts”), operates Peggy’s Cove sightseeing tours, Halifax’s Big Pink double-decker tours, cruise ship shore excursions, and customized charter bus services cross Canada and the USA. Both companies successfully cater to leisure, corporate, sport and cruise markets regionally and nationally. Under the Ambassatours umbrella, Murphy’s businesses (tour boats, restaurant and gift shops) will continue to operate under their well-established brands from their historic Cable Wharf location on the Halifax waterfront. This merger makes Ambassatours Gray Line the largest sightseeing tour company in Canada with over 400 employees. As Ambassatours Gray Line, the new merger will have Dennis Campbell as CEO and Jeff Farwell as President (and majority shareholders), with employees Sean Buckland and Mary Dempster as minority shareholders.