Musée du Bas-Saint-Laurent

The white ships take a break

A photograph of large cruise steamers in port, with a bridge under construction in the background.

Canada Steamship Lines boats line up in Victoria Basin in the Port of Montreal, in 1928.

Evans Family coll.,

In 1913, the merger of several shipping companies, including the Richelieu & Ontario Navigation Co., created Canada Steamship Lines. This company’s cruise steamers are easily identifiable with their black, white and red chimneys. Some of these floating palaces could welcome up to 750 passengers aboard. They are often called “white ships” since their many levels were painted white. The very stylish staff also wore white uniforms.

The official photographer for the Montreal Port Authority captured this scene in 1928, showing five Canada Steamship Lines cruise steamers lined up. From left to right, they are Rapids Prince, Richelieu, Quebec, St. Lawrence and Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré. Did you notice the door at the centre of the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré? This large opening is used to stow cars, baggage and merchandise in the hold. The Jacques-Cartier Bridge under construction can be seen in the background.

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