A Ready-made Flotilla: Canada and the Galway Line Contract 1859-1863

By Kenneth S. Mackenzie, published August 1988


During its first ten years of operation, at a time when it was faltering and unsuccessful commercially, the Montreal Ocean Steam Ship Company Limited – better known as the Allan Line – received at least three million dollars of government money in the form of mail contract payments and other benefits. This paper shows how non-postal considerations far outweighed one postal contract. The British government’s signing of the Galway Line contract in 1859 encouraged expectations in Canada that, with this precedent, the Allan Line should be given one as well. In fact the contract had been negotiated at the highest levels of government, not as a postal one, but as an Irish venture. The complications from, and eventual resolution of this situation, involving the saving of the Allen Line in the process, are detailed.

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Filed under: Atlantic | Other (Nineteenth C)
Subjects include: Administration | Logistics | Merchant Marines

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