Cu­rat­ing Cu­nard

Mar­itime Mu­seum ex­hibit cel­e­brates ship­ping history


The long and sto­ried history of the steam ship­ping in­dus­try is be­ing cel­e­brated at the Mar­itime Mu­seum of the At­lantic with the launch of its Cu­nard 175: En­gine for Change ex­hibit this Fri­day.

The ex­hibit marks 175 years since the ar­rival of the first Cu­nard flag­ship, the Bri­tan­nia, from Liver­pool, Eng­land. The fo­cus is on Sa­muel Cu­nard and the ship­ping legacy he brought to Nova Sco­tia, par­tic­u­larly Hal­i­fax dur­ing the 1800s.

Roger Marsters, the mu­seum’s cu­ra­tor of marine history, said Tues­day the ex­hibit fea­tures a mix of his­tor­i­cal and in­ter­ac­tive com­po­nents that show how Cu­nard made Hal­i­fax a cen­tre for steam ship­ping.

“(Cu­nard) had a great tal­ent for bring­ing peo­ple to­gether for a com­mon pur­pose,” Marsters said.

Visi­tors can touch and smell trade goods of that time, try out speak­ing tubes that were used on steam boats, and see mod­els of the time’s tech­nol­ogy.

“We’re try­ing to en­gage as broad an au­di­ence as pos­si­ble,” Marsters said.

One of the most ex­cit­ing fea­tures of the ex­hibit is a model of a side-level steam en­gine that can be pumped man­u­ally, he added.

The ex­hibit opens Fri­day with a free re­cep­tion at 4:30 p.m.

The Cu­nard ship Queen Mary 2 is mak­ing a spe­cial sail at about 7:30 p.m. from Pier 21, up to where the old Cu­nard Wharves were lo­cated, and back out of Hal­i­fax Har­bour. There will be a large, for­mal send off and the Stada­cona band will salute the ves­sel.

The Queen Mary 2 left Liver­pool on Mon­day and will ar­rive in Hal­i­fax this week, repli­cat­ing the voy­age the Bri­tan­nia made 175 years ago.

“You get an evoca­tive sense of what it was like to be on the Hal­i­fax wa­ter­front in the early part of the 19th cen­tury,” Marsters said.

The Cu­nard 175 ex­hibit is on un­til the end of Novem­ber.

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