Robert Goodall travelled to Canada in the Athenia, Donaldson Brothers Ltd.circa 1880?

February 8, 2013

My Great Grandfather Robert Goodall travelled to Canada in the Athenia, Donaldson Brothers Ltd.circa 1880. I have the shipping label from his trunk, it leaves from the South Pier Princes Dock . He travelled third class to St. John., then via G. T. R. to St. Catharines. Ont. Canada.

The label says "per steamer Athenia". The only one I see is the one that was torpedoed, is this the same ship?

Gail Barclay


There were two ships named Athenia, here are their details.

Athenia (1)19041917 torpedoed and sunk off Inishtrahull, Ireland; loss of 15 lives.7,835 Athenia (2)19231939 torpedoed and sunk off Inishtrahull, Ireland; loss of 128 lives. (First ship to be sunk in WWII 3rd Sep.1939)13,465

But Athenia 1 was not built until 1904 and was 7,635 tons. So I am at at a loss to explain how your Great Grandfather could have sailed in her in 1880, perhaps it was much later when he sailed in her to Canada and acquired a trunk label reading per steamer Athenia, But he could not have sailed in Athenia 2 which was not built until 1923.

Athenia 2 built in 1923 of 13,465 tons was the ship sunk on day 1 of WW2, on September 3 1939.

By coincidence both ships were sunk by a torpedo, and both in the same area off Ireland.

A brief history of the Donaldson Line follows:

Donaldson Line

The company was founded in 1855 as the Donaldson Brothers. They acquired their first ship in 1858, a wooden barque, and it was placed in service between the Clyde, Brazil and the River Plate. About 1880, they added routes from Glasgow to Quebec and Montreal. In 1894, Bristol to Montreal was added but was soon discontinued due to a lack of freight. They became Donaldson Line Limited in 1913. In 1916 the Anchor Line obtained a controlling interest in the four Donaldson passenger steamers and a separate company, Anchor-Donaldson Ltd was formed to operate them. The Donaldson South American Line was formed in 1919 to combine the South American services of Donaldson and the Glasgow SS Co. In 1924 the company commenced a new service from Glasgow and Liverpool to the American Pacific Coast and in 1934 Donaldson in conjunction with the Bristol City Line took over the Bristol Channel - Canada service of the Leyland Line. The Anchor Line went into liquidation in 1935 and the assets of the Anchor-Donaldson Line were sold, the greater part being acquired by Donaldson Line which changed the name to Donaldson Atlantic Line. In 1938 the managers of Donaldson interests, Donaldson Bros Ltd changed their name to Donaldson Bros & Black Ltd. After the war, the company resumed cargo services to the Pacific coast of North America and to Canada and in 1948 resumed limited passenger voyages to Canada. The North Pacific service and ships on this route were sold to Blue Star Line in 1954. A new service to the Great Lakes commenced in 1957. In 1967 with the advent of containerisation, the company was liquidated and the fleet sold.

Best regards

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