Sir Samuel Cunard!                                                                                                


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Sir Samuel Cunard & Cunard Cruise Line!

Sir Samuel Cunard, the man whose name is born by the renowned Cunard Cruise Line, never owned - outright - the shipping company. And more-over, he was not an Englishman, but a Canadian, born in Halifax Nova Scotia in 1787.

While Samuel was alive, the shipping company was never officially named "Cunard Line". The company formed with a number of partners was the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company. His negotiation power and position as a prominent businessman enabled him to win trans-Atlantic mail contracts with England. These contracts were to provide mail service from England to Halifax twice every month and then on to Boston. It was the Bostonians who first "unofficially" called the line the Cunard Steam Ship Company or the Cunard Line of Packet Steam Ships. It wasn't until 1878 that the company was incorporated as the Cunard Steamship Company - about thirteen years after Samuel Cunard had passed away.

There was fierce competition for mail deliveries crossing the ocean which forced the Cunard company to keep upgrading and expanding. Because of a few shipwrecks of other companies' ships, Samuel Cunard started marketing the shipping line's safety record. This expanded the traveler base of the line as more people wanted safe transportation to the new world. Thus, the beginnings of the Cunard Line as the premier ocean liner company and later as the famous luxury cruise line.

Samuel Cunard was a noted Halifax businessman, merchant and respected politician. His story is like so many before and so many since. His father was a carpenter, but was able to expand his horizons - so to speak- and in 1812 founded the firm of A. Cunard and Son. With little education, Samuel, at an early age, proved to be a shrewd trader. He would buy goods on the docks and then sell them in town. Early in the 1820's Samuel became the virtual head of his father's firm. This was just the beginning.

Samuel Cunard and his brothers had numerous business ventures including land acquisition, timber trade, shipping and ship trading. Samuel had used his influence in the Halifax merchant and political communities to build somewhat of an empire. However, becoming over-extended, that empire appeared to be crashing down on him. His shrewd business sense along with his reputation and his friends - in Halifax and England - ensured that his legacy would not be that of a bankruptcy. It is stated that his estate was valued somewhere between 350,000 and 600,000 British Pounds.

Throughout his later life, Samuel Cunard lived extensively in England where most of his financial partners were. He maintained his home in Halifax as well, traveling back and forth on his company's ships.

Sir Samuel was remembered as a man who looked after his fellow men. He could be a ruthless adversary, but would reward a job well done. In the hard times of the thirties, he "circulated" his money to keep the economy going when there could have been poverty and mercantile stagnation. In the opinion of one of his acquaintances, he was remembered as "the ablest man I have ever known as a merchant in Halifax". By staying true to the family motto "By perseverance" he became an English merchant prince.

For more information regarding the life of Sir Samuel Cunard, check out his biography on the Dictionary of Canadian Biography website. For more information regarding the Cunard Cruise Line, look at our article map of Cruise Ship Articles.

For more information on Cunard cruises, ships and more check out some of the other interesting articles. There are also many articles available here for other cruise itineraries and related cruise information.

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