This ship, originally the Allan Line's Alsatian, was built in Glasgow by
William Beardmore & Sons. The first transatlantic liner with a cruiser
stern, Alsatian was launched in March 1913, and made her maiden voyage
17 January 1914, Liverpool-St. John, New Brunswick.
Alsatian served as an armed merchant cruiser from August 1914 until
December 1918. During this service, she took part in rescuing the crew
of White Star's Oceanic which was wrecked in September 1914. In 1917,
the acquisition of Alsatian and the rest of the Allan Line by Canadian
Pacific, a process that had begun in 1913, was completed.
During a 1919 overhaul, Alsatian was renamed Empress of France. She
returned to service in September 1919, again serving Canada, although
her European terminus moved from Liverpool to Southampton to Hamburg and
back to Southampton between 1922 and 1928. She set three Canadian
service speed records: westbound in August 1920 and July 1924, and
eastbound in July 1924, and also set a record for fastest
Liverpool-Quebec-Liverpool roundtrip, in July 1921. Converted from coal
to oil fuel in 1924, Empress of France also made several round-the-world
cruises during the 1920s.
Empress of France served on Canadian Pacific's transpacific service for
a year beginning in October 1928 and then returned to the
Liverpool-Canada route. She made her final voyage,
Southampton-Cherbourg-Quebec, in September 1931 and was then laid up.
She was scrapped in 1934.
Sources: Bonsor's North Atlantic Seaway; Haws' Merchant Fleets.