Ahoy! I. H. Mathers reaches 150 years in service

Posted on May 20, 2022 | By Alexander Chafe | 0 Comments

I. H. Mathers’ old offices, located on Prince Street in Halifax, NS (photo credit: I. H. Mathers)


Anchored in Nova Scotia, 2022 marks 150 years for I. H. Mathers. Still a family business, I. H. Mathers has built comprehensive logistics, marine and personnel service offerings and a network of partnerships with worldwide reach.


Setting sail

The namesake company was founded by Isaac H. Mathers in 1872 in Halifax, N.S. Originally from Ireland, Mathers moved to New York and then Boston in the late 1800s before making his way to Atlantic Canada to establish a shipping agency. At the time, the Halifax marine sector was competitive. To secure business, Isaac posted a man on Citadel Hill with a telescope to watch for incoming ships. Once spotted, they would race to shore and row out to sea in hopes of landing a contract. The tactic was surprisingly successful.


Left, the first ship built by I. H. Mathers’, the Helen Mathers; Right, the Balder Challenger, built in Atlantic Canada in the ‘80s, the vessel was chartered from I. H. Mathers by Petro Canada for work offshore N.L. (photo credit: I. H Mathers).


Evolving service offerings

What started as a shipping agency has evolved over time. In the early 1900s, Mathers began shipbuilding and became an agent for marine insurance firms. Following the Second World War, the business acquired 84 freighters and continued to work with a growing number of vessels. In the 1960s, they added tugboat services for the offshore industry and established their Reliance Offshore agency in the 1980s to provide personnel recruitment services. The company also rounded out its import and export services in the 1980s by acquiring Atlantic Customs Brokers. Finally, Mathers Freight was created in the ‘90s to provide warehousing, inspection, container handling and other related services.

Current president Harry Isaac Mathers says “all services today were born out of the needs of clients” and adds that “it’s important to have a logistics partner that plans ahead and this anniversary shows that we’ve been doing just that.”

In 2013, I. H. Mathers consolidated Mathers Freight, Atlantic Customers Brokers and Mathers Logistics divisions under the name Mathers Logistics Ltd.


Harry Isaac Mathers II, who became president of I. H. Mathers in 1906 (photo credit: I. H. Mathers)


Family Mathers

I. H. Mathers remains a family-owned and operated business. President Harry Isaac Mathers represents the fifth generation, whose children have also begun working in the family business. Family can be found throughout the organization, along with other expert staff.

Speaking of the business’s success, CEO Brian Lane noted “quality service and continuous improvement are the secrets to I. H. Mathers’ remarkable success, both of which are driven by our expert and dedicated staff. Now that we’re celebrating 150 years, we’ve come to say that our employees don’t just work here, they make history every day.”


Harry Isaac Mathers Sr, current chairman of I. H. Mathers (centre) and employee Greg Coffin (right) in an I. H. Mathers facility (photo credit: I. H. Mathers)


Full steam ahead

Today, I. H. Mathers provides a full scope of logistics, marine and personnel services from their headquarters in Nova Scotia, offices in Newfoundland and Ontario and worldwide partnerships. Commenting on the 150-year milestone, chairman Harry Isaac Mathers Sr. says “history shows that if we stay focused on making good decisions and taking care of our people, they’ll take care of our clients. And that’s what will keep us around for another 150 years.”

As for the future, president Harry Isaac says he sees growth potential in renewable energy, construction and defense industries, and hopes for the business to remain family-owned and operated for years to come.

Full steam ahead, after 150 years.

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