This summer, Hapag-Lloyd is celebrating the 120th anniversary of its first liner service to Canada. As Canadian routes became increasingly attractive from an economic point of view at the end of the 19th century, Hapag acquired the smaller Hamburg-based steamship company, Hansa, and continued the service it started to Canada in 1883 under the name Hansa Line. In 1892, the steamer “Cremon” first set sail for Montreal flying the Hapag flag. By today’s standards, the ship, with its 2,132 gross register tonnage, was rather small. It was 90 metres long and could carry only 18 passengers. By way of comparison, the large container vessels in the “Seattle Express” class currently serving Hapag-Lloyd’s Asia–Canada route, are 334 metres long, have a capacity of up to 103,000 tonnes and can carry 8,600 standard containers.

A decade before the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914, the company included Canada in the longest round trips that its vessels ever made: from Hamburg around Cape Horn and then from America’s Western Seaboard up to Canada’s Puget Sound.

The round trip included a total of 80 ports and took up to 15 weeks back then.

In 1954, after the two World Wars, Hapag and Norddeutscher Lloyd resumed a joint service to Canada.  The two companies merged in 1972 to become Hapag-Lloyd AG. As container shipping became the norm, Hapag-Lloyd included Halifax in its full container service between Europe and the East Coast of the U.S. in 1972.

With the acquisition of CP Ships in October 2005, Hapag-Lloyd also acquired a piece of Canadian history. The subsequent integration of the established Canadian shipping company is internationally considered to have been exemplary. Services were maintained and, after a transitional period of just over a year, Hapag-Lloyd announced the successful completion of CP Ships’ integration. With its fleet of 136 ships, this made Hapag-Lloyd a global player among the international top five container liner shipping companies. At the same time, Hapag-Lloyd also became the largest container carrier in Canada.

Canadian Sailings intends to honour Hapag-Lloyd’s anniversary through a reportage in a future issue.