Cunard, Sir Samuel (kyōnärdˈ) [key], 1787–1865, Canadian pioneer of regular transatlantic steam navigation, b. Halifax, N.S. The son of a United Empire Loyalist, he became a leading businessman of Nova Scotia and engaged in banking, lumbering, shipping, and shipbuilding enterprises. His fleet at one time numbered some 40 vessels. He was interested in the development of steam navigation and owned shares in the Royal William, the first Canadian steamer to cross the Atlantic (1833) from Canada to England. When the British government invited bids (1838) for carrying mail to and from Liverpool, Halifax, and Boston, Cunard went (1839) to England and presented to the admiralty such carefully considered plans for a line of steamships that he received the contract. In association with others, he formed the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, which in 1840 placed four ships in operation, establishing the first regular steamship service between the continents. This was the beginning of the noted Cunard Line.
See F. E. Dodman, Ships of the Cunard Line (1955); S. Fox, Transatlantic: Samuel Cunard, Isambard Brunel, and the Great Atlantic Steamship (2003).