The PS Royal William of Quebec

The First True Transatlantic Steamer

Published Date: November 15, 2020


Pre-order now; pub date Nov. 15, 2020

World trade was revolutionized in the 19th century when ships went from sail to steam. Crossing the Atlantic under steam was clearly an engineering and navigating feat to be celebrated.

A controversy thus developed about which was the first steamship to make the crossing, who built it, and where. Several ships, including the Great Western and the Sirius from the U.S. and the Curaçao from Holland, have claimed the title.

The truth is that the Paddle Steamer Royal William, built at the Campbell and Black shipyard in the Port of Quebec, earned the title when it steamed across the Atlantic from Pictou, Nova Scotia, to Portsmouth England in 1833.

Maritime historian Eileen Reid Marcil has devoted years to researching the history of the PS Royal William and its designers and builders, examining all the relevant records worldwide regarding both the Royal William and its principal contenders.

Campbell & Black Shipyard, Quebec

With this book she has laid the controversy to rest, proving beyond doubt that the PS Royal William was the first vessel to span the Atlantic under steam, the First True Transatlantic Steamer.

Eileen Reid Marcil is a maritime historian who received her doctorate from Université Laval. Her previous books include The Charley-man: A History of Wooden Shipbuilding at Quebec 1763-1893 and Tall Ships and Tankers: The History of the Davie Shipbuilders. She lives in Montreal.

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