Ravenscrag: The Allan Royal Mail Line


Front Cover, Ravenscrag: The Allan Royal Mail Line by Thomas E. Appleton, 1974.

Front Cover, Ravenscrag: The Allan Royal Mail Line by Thomas E. Appleton, 1974. GGA Image ID # 779888dc49


On the Front Cover

The brig Favorite, off Greenock, with Roseneath in the background. It is reproduced from a painting attributed to Robert Salmon (1775-1852) by permission of Richard Allan, Moreton-in-the-Marsh.



Ravenscrag is the story of the Allans and of the great line of sail and steamships which bore their name, dominating the Canadian Atlantic routes for more than a century and making a major contribution to Canadian history. Twelve Pages of Black & White Photographs Follow Page 160.


Back Cover, Ravenscrag: The Allan Royal Mail Line by Thomas E. Appleton, 1974.

Back Cover, Ravenscrag: The Allan Royal Mail Line by Thomas E. Appleton, 1974. GGA Image ID # 202899e0b8


On the Back Cover

The back cover shows the RMS Parisian, from an advertisement of 1881, by permission of Miss Ishbel D. Crawford, Glasgow.


From the Inside DJ Flaps

Beginning with the patriarch Sandy Allan, the story follows his five sons through emigration to Canada and the founding of the Montreal Ocean Steamship Company, the Allan Line.

The story climaxes when Sir Hugh Allan bids to control the proposed Canada Pacific Railway Company, which would have thrown a web of steel and steam "from sea to sea" and halfway around the world.

Macdonald's government fell in the ensuing political crisis, and the history of the CPR and the Allan Line diverged until Canadian Pacific bought the line.

Ravenscrag is a story of Atlantic trade under sail, of shipwrecks and storms, of iron screw steamers with black smoke and sooty rigging; Ravenscrag captures the flavor of the times when many thousands of families emigrated to Canada, many of them under the Allan flag.

It also clarifies the many links with Scottish life preserved by the sail and steamships. Extensively researched on both sides of the Atlantic, the book contains a complete nautical catalog of all Allan ships, with a full selection of photographs, many published for the first time.

The whole forms a readable and exciting shipping portrait of one of Canada's most interesting and important eras.



  • Acknowledgements vi
  • Frontispiece viii
  • Prologue Ravenscrag 9
  • One The Ayrshire Allans 17
  • Two Square Sail to Quebec 29
  • Three The Montreal Ocean Steamship Company 46
  • Four Denny of Dumbarton 70
  • Five The Dangers of the Sea 83
  • Six The Railway Rumpus 103
  • Seven The Blessings of the Land 120
  • Eight Twenty Knots to Canada 132
  • Nine High Noon 148
  • Ten Indian Summer 161
  • Epilogue Allan Memorial 172
  • Appendices 186
  • Appendix I 188
  • Appendix II 189
  • Appendix III 190
  • Appendix IV 193
  • Bibliography 214
  • Index 218


About the Author

Thomas E. Appleton, a marine historian with Canada's Ministry of Transport, has had a lot of experience in the world of ships and shipping. A lifelong student of Marine history, he started his career as an apprentice in the merchant service.

He spent the war years as an RNVR officer in command of minesweepers and escort ships. He later served for six years on the active list of the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve.

Since joining the Department in 1960, Mr. Appleton has traveled widely on various administrative and operational assignments. He has conducted extensive research on both sides of the Atlantic for Ravenscrag.

A professional engineer and a member of the Engineering Institute of Canada, he brings the full range of technical knowledge to bear on his subject. His first book, Usque Ad Mare, is a history of the Canadian Coast Guard and Marine Services.


Allan Line Ships Featured in Ravenscrag


Sailing Ships

  1. Abeona
  2. Albion
  3. Ardmillan I
  4. Ardmillan II
  5. Anglesea
  6. Blonde
  7. Brilliant
  8. Britannia
  9. Brunette
  10. Cairngorm
  11. Caledonia
  12. Canada
  13. Catherine
  14. Cherokee
  15. Chippewa
  16. City of Montreal
  17. City of Toronto
  18. Dunbritton
  19. Favourite I
  20. Favourite II
  21. Florence
  22. Glasgow
  23. Glenbervie
  24. Glencairn I
  25. Glencairn II
  26. Glendaruel
  27. Glenfinnart
  28. Gleniffer
  29. Glenmorag
  30. Harlequin
  31. Iona
  32. Jean
  33. Marion
  34. Medora
  35. Minerva
  36. Mohawk
  37. Montreal
  38. Ottawa
  39. Pericles
  40. Polly
  41. Pomona
  42. Ravenscrag
  43. Romsdal
  44. Staffa
  45. St. Lawrence
  46. Saint Patrick
  47. Strathblane
  48. Strathearn
  49. Thailia
  50. Thistle



  1. Alsatian
  2. America
  3. Anglo-Saxon
  4. Assyrian
  5. Australasian
  6. Austrian
  7. Bavarian
  8. Belgian
  9. Bohemian
  10. Brazilian
  11. Buenos Ayrean
  12. Calgarian
  13. Californian
  14. Canadian I
  15. Canadian II
  16. Canadian III
  17. Carthaginian
  18. Caspian
  19. Castilian
  20. Circassian
  21. Corean
  22. Corinthian I
  23. Corinthian II
  24. Corsican
  25. Damascus
  26. European
  27. Gallia
  28. Germany
  29. Grampian
  30. Grecian
  31. Hanoverian
  32. Hesperian
  33. Hibernian
  34. Hungarian
  35. Huronian
  36. Indian
  37. Ionian
  38. Jura
  39. John Bell
  40. Lake Erie
  41. Laurentian
  42. Livonian
  43. Lucerne
  44. Manitoban
  45. Mongolian
  46. Monte Videan
  47. Moravian
  48. Nestorian
  49. North American
  50. Nort Briton
  51. Norwegian I
  52. Norwegian II
  53. Nova Scotian
  54. Numidian
  55. Ontarian
  56. Palestine
  57. Parisian
  58. Peruvian
  59. Phoenician
  60. Polynesian
  61. Pomeranian
  62. Pretorian
  63. Prussian
  64. Rosarian
  65. Roumanian
  66. Saint Andrew
  67. Saint David
  68. Saint Patrick
  69. Sarmatian
  70. Sardinian
  71. Scandinavian I
  72. Scandinavian II
  73. Scotian
  74. Siberian
  75. Sicilian
  76. State of California
  77. State of Georgia
  78. State of Indiana
  79. State of Nebraska
  80. State of Nevada
  81. Sweden
  82. Tainui
  83. Tunisian
  84. Turanian
  85. Victorian
  86. Virginian


Library of Congress Catalogue Listing

  • Personal name: Appleton, Thomas E.
  • Main title: Ravenscrag: the Allan Royal Mail Line / Thomas E. Appleton.
  • Published/Created: Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, [1974]
  • Description: 222 p., [8] leaves of plates : ill. ; 24 cm.
  • ISBN: 0771007205
  • LC Classification: HE945.A37 A66
  • LC Subjects: Allan Line Steamship Co.--History. Shipping--Canada--History.
  • Notes: Includes Chronology of the Allan Line. Allan Line Fleet List, index, and Bibliography: p. 214-217.
  • LCCN: 75505815
  • Dewey class no.: 387.5/06/571
  • Geographic area code: n-cn---
  • National bib no.: C***
  • Type of material: Book


Return to Top of Page

Maritime Books
Ocean Travel Collection
GG Archives

Ocean Travel / Maritime Books § 1

Ocean Travel Topics A-Z