Editor's Note: Legendary cruise line Cunard celebrated its 175th anniversary in 2015. To mark the occasion, they released a series of articles tracing the history of the company.
Sir Samuel Cunard
The oddest thing about the founding of Cunard in 1839 is that the company was ever formed by a man like Samuel Cunard at all.
To begin with, a Canadian of American parentage does not seem the classic candidate to establish a British icon. And a man so unremittingly prudent, conservative, cautious, austere – and, let’s face it, old – equally doesn’t seem the man to take such huge economic risks or to push the edges of known technology that the founding of the company entailed.
By the time he came to set up the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, as Cunard’s company was originally known, Samuel Cunard was already a prosperous businessman and significant figure in Nova Scotia. He was comfortably settled, with his children around him, a comfortable retirement in the cosy glow of local esteem seemed to lie ahead rather than the creation of a commercial revolution.
Cunard gambled everything he had to set up, 3,000 miles from home, a highly speculative and enormously risky venture uncomfortably close to the forefront of known technology. To do it, he even uprooted himself from his native Nova Scotia and took up residence in London. It all seems markedly out of character with everything he’d done before, and with everything he did afterwards when the company settled down to be a singularly cautious and conservative company in the mould of the founder.
1947: Queen Elizabeth
Hibernia Arrives in New York, 1847
Travel by Air and Sea: Cunard Eagle
'Aquitania' Played Pivotal Role in WW1
What's in a Name?
The Cunard Building in Liverpool
Skirmisher: Cunard's Passenger Champion
The Legend of the Pretty Sisters
The Boston Cup
Michael Gallagher --