Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Cunard was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, the son of a master carpenter and timber merchant who had fled the American Revolution and settled in Halifax. Samuel's business skills were evident at an early age and by age 17 he was managing his own general store. He later joined his father in the family timber business which he expanded into coal, iron, shipping and whaling.
A highly successful entrepreneur in Halifax shipping, and one of a group of twelve individuals who dominated the affairs of Nova Scotia, Samuel Cunard went to the United Kingdom where he set up a joint venture with several other businessmen to bid on the rights to run a transatlantic shipping company between the UK and North America. Successful in his bid, the company would eventually bear his name, becoming Cunard Steamship Limited.
In 1840 the company's first steamship, the Britannia, sailed from Liverpool to Boston, Massachusetts, with Cunard and 63 other passengers on board, marking the beginning of regular passenger and cargo service. The prosperous company eventually absorbed Canadian Northern Steamships Limited and its principal competition, the White Star Line, owners of the ill-fated Titanic. After that, Cunard dominated the Atlantic passenger trade with some of the world's most famous liners.
Cunard also owned a number of other companies in Canada. His coal company which he bought to fuel his liners is still one of Nova Scoatia's major fuel companies. He also controlled logging ventures and at one point owned a seventh of Prince Edward Island.
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