VIEW-26084 | Sailing ship at sea, painting by Abraham F. Beevor, 1877, copied ca.1938 for W. A. Murray

Sailing ship at sea, painting by Abraham F. Beevor, 1877, copied ca.1938 for W. A. Murray
Wm. Notman & Son
1937-1940, 20th century
Silver salts on film (nitrate) - Gelatin silver process
19 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
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Keys to History

Plying the waves around 1877, this sailing ship was a forerunner of the grand transatlantic steamships that ran regular routes between Europe and North America in the late 19th century.

These voyages were not without risk, especially in severe weather. On August 24-25, 1873, the Great Nova Scotia Cyclone (actually a hurricane) swept across Cape Breton Island, claiming 500 lives, destroying 1,200 marine craft and demolishing 900 buildings. This area of the Atlantic is particularly prone to violent storms. The 1873 cyclone was not the first, nor the last to hit there. Sable Island, off Nova Scotia, has recorded more than 350 shipwrecks since 1583, many of them caused by Atlantic gales driving the vessels aground on its coast.

Source : Disasters and Calamities [Web tour], by Nathalie Lampron (see Links)

  • What

    Mixed propulsion (sail and steam) ships emerged in the mid-19th century. They could be recognized by their funnels, which spat thick black smoke among the sails.

  • Where

    Throughout the 19th century, Canadian ships transported large cargos of wood to the United Kingdom. To make the transatlantic voyage more profitable, they returned loaded with British immigrants.

  • When

    Violent storms that cause shipwrecks in the North Atlantic occur most often in late fall.

  • Who

    Two Canadian shipowners stand out in the history of transatlantic travel: Samuel Cunard, who ran the British and North America Royal Mail Steam Packet Company (later known as "Cunard Line"), and Hugh Allan, head of the Montreal Ocean Steamship Company.