Like many, I’ve been sticking close to home lately. Unlike many, I’ve been trying to acclimatize a 10-month-old Sprocker (half Springer and half Cocker Spaniel) puppy to people, and it’s been hard — both finding people and training this puppy. It’s a challenge.
First, she’s incredibly high energy with the focus of a goldfish. Second, my puppy interacts with groups of people so infrequently, she thinks three people in a room is a party — and responds accordingly.
So, why not take her to the Hamilton Harbour in Ontario, Canada to walk among the people, lunge at sea gulls along the lake (she’s a bird dog) and take a look at Theodore Tugboat? Saturday outing!
We weren’t the only ones. We weren’t even the only dog team. On a rainy afternoon along Hamilton, Ontario’s waterfront near Pier 8 at the end of Discovery Drive, we met a Boxer, a Pomeranian, a little black fluff and a black Lab. Dog walking along the Hamilton Harbour is definitely a thing.
But there’s a new added draw to this marina haven: Theodore Too.
What is the Theodore TOO Tugboat?
Theodore TOO is a colourful friendly tugboat painted with a smiling cartoon face docked at Pier 8 in Hamilton, Ontario. Theodore arrived at his new home July 18, 2021 from Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he was previously docked for two decades.
Theodore TOO is in Hamilton for two reasons: first, to become a charming tourist attraction. Second, to promote environmental sustainability in the Great Lakes.
The tugboat is the ambassador with Swim Drink Fish, conservation advocates promoting restoration of the Great Lakes. But it’s owned by Blair McKeil of McKeil Marine in Burlington Ontario, who bought the historic boat after it went up for sale last year.
Theodore TOO is a 65-foot replica of a popular Canadian children’s TV show character — the tugboat spent 20 years in the Halifax Harbour in Nova Scotia, Canada as an icon of a 1990s CBC kids show set and filmed in Halifax about friendly boats in the Big Harbour – think Hammy Hamster but with remote-controlled boats.
Years ago, I visited Theodore TOO in the Halifax Harbour and the original show models and set inside the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic nearby.
Today, I’m along the Hamilton, Ontario waterfront with my pup, getting rained on while navigating a few tugboat fans and struggling to contain my dog’s enthusiasm for anything that moves … or flies. So many birds.
Is my dog interested in Theodore TOO? Not really. She’s more interest in seagulls than the smiling yellow face with a red cap hovering behind her.
Is the Hamilton Waterfront dog-friendly?
The Hamilton waterfront from Pier 4 to 8 is a very popular dog walking zone, but has no off-leash section — and is patrolled by bylaw officers. Meandering sidewalks along the waterfront and open green spaces on the other side of the picturesque marina (the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club) make for a scenic leash walk.
Near where Theodore TOO is docked, is a much-photographed public sculpture celebrating sailing called Rafaga Unleashed by Dam De Nogales, and a Williams Fresh Cafe coffee shop outdoor patio is steps away. Usually, dogs are permitted on the coffee shop’s outdoor patio, but if it’s too crowded, picnic tables in the park have served as dog-friendly lunching spot for me more than once.
Pier 8 Today
Pier 8 was a very scenic area when it first opened, but now the Marine Museum is gone (replaced by waterfront dining that failed), and the circular drive and landscaping has been dug up and redesigned — frankly, the drive in currently looks like a bombed-out construction site, unfortunately.
A block away from Pier 8 is home to a Nationally Historic Site: the HMCS Haida war ship, docked and usually opened for tours — but the entrance to that attraction is currently marred by construction fencing too.
Hopefully, when things clean up, Theodore TOO will be a noticeable part of a hopefully restored waterfront with boardwalk, kids playground, and maybe waterside patio — post current building on progress.
Williams Fresh Cafe, 47 Discovery Drive, Hamilton. (Pier 8), open daily from 8 am to 11 pm.
Waterfront Grill, 47 Discovery Drive, Hamilton, open daily from 11:30 am to 9:00 pm.
Waterfront Scoops Ice Cream, featuring Hewitt’s Ice Cream, 47 Discovery Drive, Hamilton, open daily from noon to 10 pm.
Hamilton Waterfront Trolley, a 37-passenger trackless trolley follows a 12km trail sharing information and trivia about the Hamilton Harbour. Tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for kids. Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed on board.
The Hamiltonian Boat Tour – The tour departs from Pier 7 docks (near Williams) six times a day, except for Wednesdays. The Hamiltonian is a 12-passenger tour boat taking people on a narrated 50-minute tour of the Hamilton Harbour. Tickets range from $9.70 for children to $19.40 for adults (including tax). Tickets must be purchased on site – no advanced ticket purchases.
During the winter months, the Hamilton Waterfront Trust sponsors an outdoor skating rink adjacent to Williams Fresh Cafe. Skates are available for rent.