Model of SS Royal William at the Maritime Museum

Nova Scotia Museum

August 18, 2005 10:30 AM

A model of the first ship to cross the Atlantic on steam power alone will be on display at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, beginning today, Aug. 18. This year marks the 172nd anniversary of the SS Royal William's Atlantic crossing.

Built at a shipyard in Cape Blanc, Que., the ship was originally intended to regularly travel between Quebec and Halifax. Unfortunately, the cholera epidemic of 1832 imposed restrictions on passenger travel and effectively destroyed the economic viability of the route.

Facing bankruptcy, the owners chose to send the ship to England for auction. On Aug. 4, 1833, the Royal William sailed out of Quebec under Capt. John McDougall, stopping in Pictou to pick up 324 tons of coal, before it set off on its 25-day voyage to England.

On Aug. 18, 1833, the Royal William left Pictou en route to London, England. When it arrived on Sept. 12, it officially became the first ship in the world to cross the Atlantic on steam power.

Although the voyage was intended simply to deliver a ship for auction, there was no doubt that the crew recognized the significance of their journey. The vessel's captain later wrote, "She (Royal William) is justly entitled to be the first steamer that crossed the Atlantic by steam, having steamed the whole way across."

The model, which is on loan from the Ontario Science Centre, was constructed by Mahone Bay native, Ben Verburgh, one of North America's top model builders.

The Maritime Museum is located at 1675 Lower Water St.


FOR BROADCAST USE:

     To mark the 172nd anniversary of the S-S Royal William's

crossing of the Atlantic, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

will display a model of the ship beginning today (August 18th).

     On August 18th, 1833, the ship left Pictou en route to

London, England. When it arrived on September 12th, it

officially became the first ship in the world to cross the

Atlantic on steam power alone.

     The model, which is on loan from the Ontario Science Centre,

was constructed by Mahone Bay native, Ben Verburgh, one of North

Americas's top model builders.

     The Maritime Museum is located on Lower Water Street in

Halifax.

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Contact: Dan Conlin
         Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
         902-424-6442
         E-mail: conlindg@gov.ns.ca