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Canadian History
Andrew Allan


Of Montreal, brother of the late Sir Hugh Allan, was born at Saltcoats, Ayreshire, Scotland, Dec. 1, 1822. His father was a well-known shipmaster and trader between the Clyde and Montreal, and had command of passenger ships for a period of over thirty years. Andrew was the fourth son, and received his education in the old country, and when in his seventeenth year came to Canada. In 1846 he became a member of the important and rapidly rising firm of which his brother, Sir Hugh, had been a partner. A biographical sketch of this brilliant and energetic business man necessarily implies a history of the development of the magnificent business in ocean traffic, with which the name of Allan must forever remain associated in Canada. Over thirty years ago the Allan Brothers, perceiving the great number of people who were constantly sailing from Great Britain and Ireland to America, conceived the idea of a line of ocean passenger boat, which would be the chief carrying medium for the great concourse of emigrants. In 1853 they have fifteen sailing ships afloat, but to these they added two iron screw steamships, to ply between Liverpool, Quebec and Montreal. At a little later period, stimulated by the success of the venture, two similar boats were added to their fleet. Before the period when the enterprise of the Allan Brothers began to assert itself, mails crossed the ocean very slowly; but in 1857 the firm made arrangements to carry fortnightly mails between Liverpool and Quebec in summer, and between Liverpool and Portland, Maine, in winter. At a later date the Canadian mail service was enlarged to a weekly line, and its steamers were as noble and as splendidly equipped as any ship that crossed the Atlantic. The fleet has continued to increase up to the present time (1885), when it is composed of the following list of magnificent ships:- Liverpool mail-line: Numidian, (building), Parisian, Sardinian, Polynesian, Sarmatian, Circassian, Perusian; Newfoundland fornightly mail line:- Hibernian, Nova Scotvin, Caspian, Newfoundland; Glasgow freight and passenger line:- Carthaginian, Siberian, Buenos Ayrean, Norweigian, Grecian; London freight and passenger line: Corean, Scandinavian, Nestorian, Lucerne. A fortnightly service between Glasgow and Boston, and another between Glasgow and Philadelphia is also maintained by the following ships:- Prussian, Manitoban, Canadian, Phoenician, Walensian, Austrian, and Acadian. Some fourteen sailing ships belong to the fleet, making a gross tonnage of over 200,000 tons. The Allan Brothers were the first to adopt the spar or flush deck on their steamers; and in making this costly revolution they not only failed to find the co-operation of the London Board of Trade, but had the hostility of that body by its refusal to allow them any concession in the way of measurement for harbour dues, etc. In addition to his very prominent connection with his own firm, Andrew Allan holds several important business trusts in Montreal, and some of these we may mention. He is president of the Merchants Bank, the Montreal Telegraph Company, the Manitoba and N. W. Railway Company, the Canadian Rubber Company, the Windsor Hotel Company; and the Montreal Lumber Company; and besides he is on the directorate of numerous other manufacturing, mining, and business companies. He is likewise one of the Harbour Commissioners of Montreal. Mr. Allan married, in 1846, a daughter of the late John Smith, of Montreal, and has eight children. he is a man of vast energy of character, clear and wise insight, and a wide spirit of enterprise tempered with just prudence.


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