Samuel Cunard dies

On today’s date in 1865, Samuel Cunard, a Canadian-born British shipping magnate died.

In 2004, Canada Post featured Cunard alongside fellow shipping magnate Sir Hugh Allan on a se-tenant pair of 49-cent commemorative stamps (Scott No. 2042a), honouring the duo who introduced a transatlantic mail service with their ocean-going steam vessels. It was released June 28 as part of the Pioneers of Transatlantic Mail Service issue. Printed by the Lowe-Martin Group on Tullis Russell Coatings coated paper, the Cunard stamp (Scott 2041) has general tagging along each side. 

Created by designers Dennis Page and Oliver Hill of Page&Wood Creative Strategies in Halifax and illustrator Bonnie Ross, the stamp celebrates the 19th-century milestone of fast, regular transatlantic postal service by depicting the increasing volume of mail that began to cross the Atlantic by steamship during this time. Photographs of actual letters from these trips fill the lower portion of the frame. Cunard’s portrait is illustrated in the popular formalized period style alongside an image of his ship Britannia on the rough Atlantic seas. The cancellation mark represents the date of the arrival of Curnard’s Britannia in Halifax in 1840.

Cunard was born in Halifax on Nov. 21, 1787. He first partnered with his father in the timber trade but amassed a great personal fortune in various frontier industries during the 1830s. In 1825, Cunard co-founded the Halifax Banking Company. A decade later, he was commissioned to start a regular trans-Atlantic mail service using a steamship between Liverpool, England and Halifax, Quebec City and Boston at a cost of £55,000 a year for 10 years.

Cunard’s first crossing was made in May 1840, with regular mail service beginning in July, when the Britannia sailed from Liverpool to Halifax and then on to Boston in 14 days and 8 hours.

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