Grand Trunk of Canada.
A special general meeting of this company was held yesterday at the London Tavern: Mr. Watkin, M.P., in the chair.
Mr. J. M. Grant the Secretary, read the notice conventing the meeting, for the purpose of considering and approving an agreement between this company and the Buffalo and Lake Huron Railway Company, for the conjoint working of the two undertakings and a division of the profits.
The Chairman said the directors, on the 2nd inst., has issued a circular to the bondholders and shareholders, containing leading provisions of the proposed agreement, so that they might have full information on the subject he had to submit for their approval, and he trusted in would receive their sanction. In 1861 he not only suggested such an agreement with the Buffalo and Lake Huron, but also with the Great Western of Canada. At that time the latter Company were not disposed to come to such an agreement, and at length the Grand Trunk had to rivertback and look to their separate and exclusive interests. The arrangement they had come to with the Buffalo and Lake Huron Company was similar to which they had made with the Montreal and Champlain Railway Company, to work the two lines for the benefit of each and of both together. This agreement was working satisfactorily. The Buffalo and Lake Huron Railway extended from Fort Erie, opposite the city of Buffalo, to Paris, 83 miles; from the latter place to Stratford 33 miles; and from Stratford to Goderich, Harbour, 45 miles, making together 161 miles. The length of the Grand Trunk was 1,090 miles, making together 1,251 miles. The capitals and liabilities of the two companies were to be kept perfectly distinst from each other. It was the trafic and the working of the two lines that was the subject of agaeement. The Buffalo Company were to receive 13 per cent. of the net receipts of the whole for the first year, and that per centage was to be increased gradually to 16½ per cent. in the sixth year, and to continue at that rate in subsequent years. In 1863 the net produce of the Grand Trunk amounted to £289,901, and that of the Buffalo and Lake Huron to £20,612. Out of the net receipts of that year the Buffalo Company had to pay certain debts arising from a previous loss by steamboats, to pay compensation to their general manager on his retirement, and also some loss on the stock of fuel, making together nearly £5,000, so that instead of the net produce being £30,612, it was actually £35,000. If they were to take 13 per cent. of the net produce of the two undertakings, they would find that it would give the Buffalo £41,316, showing an apparent loss under the propsed agreement of £5,704 to the Grand Trunk. This deficiency would be met by greater economy in working the two undertakings as one; they would save £1,000 a year for agencies alone, as one office instead of two offices would do for both companies. The heads of departments had estimated that £5,000 could be saved by the agreement, and if they could save £6,000 a year in that way the proposed agreement would not involve any loss on the Grand Trunk. In addition to that, when the bridge from Fort Erie to Buffalo was completed they would be brought into direct communication with other railways. The president of the New York and Erie Railway Company had agreed that his company and the New York Central Company should issue tickets or book through to all parts of the company's line in the direction of Detroit. The present charges for haulage between Fort Erie and the American lines in Buffalo would be reduced, and this reduction would go in addition to the £6,000 he had mentioned. They had made those arrangements, not so much for present advantage as for the future. Part of the Buffalo line would be made suitable for carry a through taffic, which it could not get as a independent company. The steamboat service to Sarnia and other ports of the Grand Trunk would be made available for the Buffalo line without expense, and the increased traffic would compensate the steamers. The Buffalo would get 110 miles of haulage instead of 45 miles, at present sending the traffic on to Montreal by water. The Grand Trunk in respect of this traffic would have it pass over 420 miles instead of over 212 miles as at present. They would see what an amout of traffic could be picked up by the two companies working together, instead of being lost as at present. The Buffalo stock of engines was larger than was required for their traffic, and therefore part of it would be made available for the Grand Trunk, and thus save the expenditure of so much capital. In the past year they had paid the Buffalo Company £1,000 for mileage of cars, which would be saved under the proposed system of fusion. The bridge from Fort Erie to Buffalo would be constructed by a subscription from three companies. The estimated cost was £100,000, towards which the New York and Erie would subscribe one-third, making up the full subscription. Under the agreement the Buffalo Company would have to raise £75,000 capital to subscribe towards the bridge at Buffalo, and to lay down a third rail on their line to suit the American guage for the through traffic between one part of the United States and the other. He could not say what traffic they would have from that source, but it would tend greatly to strengthen their position. This would have a bearing on the reciprocity treaty between the United States and Canada, and from opinions expressed by public men, both in Canada and the States, it was evident that it would be for the advantage of all concerned to renew it. The Grand Trunk would have the option of purchasing the Buffalo shares at a fixed price within a certain period. The agreement in the first instance would be for 21 years and application to parliament had been made in the present ssesion to sanction the agreement in perpetuity. He congratulated the meeting on the steady and continual increase of the traffic. From the 1st of January to the date of the last return the increase had been £44,815, or 14 per cent. over the corresponding period of last year. The traffic for five of the latter weeks amounted to £100,000 against £79,625 in the corresponding period of 1863, showing an increase of 26 per cent. The working expenses had been made up to the 16th of April last, and the net receipts up to that date showed an increase of £20,000 over those of the same period of last year. He thought the shareholders would agree with him that the management of their affairs had been successful. (Hear, hear!) He concluded by moving a formal resolution approving the agreement between the two companies, and authorising the directors to affix the seal of the company thereto, subject to any alterations that might be agreed upon.
Mr. T. Baring, M. P., seconded the motion, which, after a few observations from Mr. Moxon and Mr. Adams, was unanimously adopted.
A vote of thanks to the chairman concluded the proceedings.