October 17, 2011
We Are Cunard
Guest Blog: Jackie Chase, PR Manager, Cunard Line, North America
Among my favourite aspects of being the Manager of Public Relations for Cunard Line in North America, is being afforded the opportunity to organise many special event functions aboard our ships in significant US ports of call. Last month, I had the pleasure of sailing aboard Queen Elizabeth for the first time as our newest Cunarder sailed up the Northeastern coast of New England and Canada for a series of maiden calls. Each port visit is special and distinctive in its own right, however, the ship’s historic first visit to Halifax was certainly an occasion to remember.
The birthplace of our company’s founder, Halifax is considered by many to be the most significant – and perhaps most emotional – port that Cunard calls on each year, and when a new Cunarder visits for the first time, it is always even more notable.
For Queen Elizabeth’s inaugural visit, not only did the officers and crew receive a warm welcome by local port officials and dignitaries at the traditional maiden call Plaque Reception, this visit was made even more celebratory by the re-dedication of the statue of Sir Samuel Cunard – originally installed and dedicated on the waterfront five years ago – which featured some very special guests.
The Honourable Alan R. Abraham of The Halifax Foundation and John Langley, Chairman of the Cunard Steamship Historical Society in Halifax were among the primary champions for the creation of the Cunard monument, along with the passionate support of Ret. Commodore Ronald Warwick. It was with great pride that the Samuel Cunard statue was originally dedicated and installed in October 2006, an occasion of which Ret. Commodore Warwick and Commodore Bernard Warner, master of Queen Mary 2 at that time, attended with several other senior officers and crew members.
Also, present was Hugh Paton, a fourth-generation, direct descendant of Samuel Cunard, along with his wife and sons.
In honour of the 25 September maiden visit of Queen Elizabeth and the recent revitalisation of the Halifax seaport and waterfront, the Halifax Foundation re-dedicated the majestic statue which had been re-located last year to a more prominent position, adjacent to the Cunard Centre, overlooking the harbor and Georges Island.
The Paton family was again in attendance, this time with an addition: Victoria, their enthusiastic, 3 year-old daughter, who enjoyed walking into photos, and even strolled onto the floor while Captain Christopher Wells, Master of Queen Elizabeth was making his remarks during the plaque reception.
Nearly 20 other members of the Paton family attended and they were clearly proud and passionate about their heritage and to represent Samuel Cunard at this special event. During the dedication, Hugh’s three sons, Geoffrey, age 7; Ben, age 11; and Sam, age 13, cut the commemorative ribbon as Queen Elizabeth simultaneously sounded her whistle, much to the delight of the large crowd who gathered to witness the re-dedication.
In his remarks, Captain Christopher Wells said, “The city of Halifax holds unique significance to Cunard Line, and we are proud to join Samuel Cunard’s descendants as we celebrate this special occasion. It is truly gratifying to see this majestic symbol of Samuel Cunard’s legacy take such a prominent position on the waterfront; it stands as a beacon to visitors from all over the globe, which is fitting since Samuel Cunard made far-reaching travel possible for untold millions.”
“Today marks another noteworthy moment for the city of Halifax and the Cunard legacy,” said Alan R. Abraham, vice chairman of The Halifax Foundation. “Five years ago, we celebrated one of Halifax’s finest with a bronze statue of his likeness. We recognise his contributions to the city of Halifax again today and honour him with the re-dedication of his statue.”
“Cunard history and heritage is widespread as one might expect after 171 years, and counting. It was here that founder Samuel Cunard was born, later establishing a company which has no equal in the annals of ocean liner history. Today in Halifax was a great day for celebrating the man and his legacy,” said John Langley, who is considered to be the foremost expert on the life of Samuel Cunard and who authored his biography, “Steam Lion.”
It was a truly memorable day, one that gave all of us associated with Cunard a moment to reflect on the significant, world-changing contributions of Sir Samuel, and how privileged we are as a company to continue his legacy, more than 171 years later, into the 21st century.
Cunard Guest Richard Smith was also in Halifax for the maiden call, here’s his account of the momentous day:
The 25 September 2011 was a beautiful day as the Queen Elizabeth sailed into Halifax, Nova Scotia on her Maiden call.
Later that morning the statue was surrounded by the great and the good of Halifax (Haligonians), a large number of passengers from the ship and the Queen Elizabeth’s Senior Officers for the rededication of the statue.
After an introduction John Langley QC, the avid Cunard collector and historian who wrote the definitive biography of Samuel Cunard, spoke about the man who created the great shipping company in his home town of Halifax. Captain Christopher Wells gave an eloquent response and then the direct descendants of Samuel Cunard were introduced to the crowd and one of the great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren, aptly named Samuel, cut the ribbon to dedicate the statue and bring the ceremony to an end.
It was a truly memorable event.