Poster advertising Anchor-Donaldson Line £2 tickets for emigration to Canada Canada Scotland

Poster advertising Anchor-Donaldson Line £2 tickets for emigration to Canada
Poster advertising Anchor-Donaldson Line £2 tickets for emigration to Canada

Custodian: University of Glasgow Archive Services

Reference: UGD255/1/40/40

Scots had been immigrating to Canada since before 1800 in search of better economic and social prospects. In 1922, the British and Canadian governments passed the Empire Settlement Act (Canada). It supported the immigration to Canada of British farm workers, domestic servants and children under 17, with incentives including special prices for the Atlantic voyage, agricultural training, and the sale of land on credit. During the 1920s and 30s around 130,000 British immigrants were given assistance under the Act, its amendments and extensions.

(Sources: Scottish Emigration to Canada; 1922 Canada Empire Settlement Act in Encyclopaedia of Immigration

The name ‘Anchor Line’ was first used as a by-line in an 1852 advertisement of shipbrokers and merchants N. & R. Handyside & Co., founded in Glasgow in 1838. The firm of Nicol, at the time the Russian Consul in Glasgow, and his brother, Robert Handyside, initially traded with the Baltic and Russia using chartered tonnage. In 1852, retired master mariner Thomas Henderson joined the firm, with the ambition of establishing steamship routes from Glasgow to Canada and the USA. In 1855, he became a full partner and the firm was renamed Handysides & Henderson. They had bought their first boat in 1854, and two years later, one of their clippers was converted to steam propulsion and sailed to New York. An Atlantic steam-packet service was established for Anchor line with Handysides & Henderson as managing owners.

Henderson’s brother John joined the company in 1857, becoming a full partner in 1859., The other two Henderson brothers, David and William, founded the Finnieston Steamship Works Co. at Finnieston, Glasgow. Initially the converted ships from sail to steam and fitted hulls built elsewhere, before commencing shipbuilding themselves.

In 1860 Handysides & Henderson had three ships serving the transatlantic route, and in 1863 launched the Anchor Line of Peninsular & Mediterranean Steam Packets which took over the routes of Glasgow & Lisbon Steam Packet Co. who had recently gone out of business and whose ships the Handysides had previously managed.

In 1899, following the deaths of both Handysides and all four Hendersons, the firm Anchor Line (Henderson Bros) Ltd was established. In 1911, the Cunard Steamship Co. Ltd bought the whole of its Ordinary shares, and in 1916 a joint venture was set up by Anchor Line and Donaldson Brothers Ltd, another British shipping company. Anchor Donaldson Ltd was incorporated to serve the Glasgow to Canada route.

In May 1935, Anchor Line (Henderson Bros) Ltd went into liquidation as a result of the global trade depression and US immigration restrictions. Control passed of the firm passed to Runciman (London) Ltd, who were still operating commercial services under the Anchor name in 2005.