|Wednesday, February 15, 1860, Vol. 9, No. 7||The Northern Advance (Barrie)||Page 2, col. 1|
The Northern Railway.
Annual meeting of the shareholders.
From the Leader
The annual meeting of the shareholders of the Northern Railway of Canada took place in the offices of the Company yesterday. The President, Hon. C. Morrison, occupied the char. The following gentlemen were also present:—J. B. Robinson, Esq., M.P.P., John Cameron, Esq., M.P.P., Angus Morrison, Esq., M.P.P., T.D. McConkey, Esq., Warden of Simcoe, James Beaty, Esq., F.W. Cumberland, Esq., D. McDonnell, Esq., Joseph Robinson, Esq., George Denison, Esq., Richard Denison, Esq., George H. Wyatt, Esq., D. Crawford, Esq., John Duggan, Esq., Sanford Fleming, Esq., Dr. Beattie, &c.
The President read the report of the Directors for the past year, together with the Superintendent's, the engineer's, and the auditors' report. The Directors' report was as follows:
The Directors beg leave to submit their annual report of the proceedings of the Company, together with the annual reports of the Secretary, Superintendent, engineer, and auditors:—
It will be in the recollection of the Company that due to the embarrassments by which it was surrounded, an appeal to the Legislature became necessary for such relief in respect to the Provincial Loan, and such extended powers in regard to capital, as would enable it to reestablish its financial credit, and the efficient and profitable operation of its line, now so essential an element in the commercial transactions of the Western Province.
Although the concessions made by the Government and Legislature by the act of last session, were not such as your Directors felt it their duty to urge, nor such as precedent had induced them to anticipate, yet effecting, as they did, the postponement of the Government Lien in favor of other secured capital, they have enabled the Company to make provision for the liquidation of all floating liabilities, for the permanent restoration of its works, and the re-establishment of its revenues and credit upon a staple basis.
It is unnecessary here to refer in detail to the provisions of the act referred to; but the Directors are induced by experience to submit, that it is highly desirable, and indeed almost essential to legal safety—that the numerous acts of Parliament relating to the Company (involving so many repeals and amendments), together with the recent act and order of Council should be revised and consolidated in a new act during the ensuing session of the Legislature; and they accordingly recommended that authority be given at the annual meeting for the measures necessary to that end.
It is satisfactory to be able to report, that the consolidation of the original Bonds of the Company, of all classes, into that of new second preference Bonds, is in active progress—£191,000 sterling, of a total amount of £235,000 sterling, having already been consolidated to this date.
The claims to be satisfied (under the recent act) by a part of the new issues of 1st Preference Bonds, and representing the floating liability of the Company, have already been adjusted to the amount of $102,935.81, leaving a balance of $54,943.68 now in satisfactory process of liquidation.
A preliminary and conditional contract has been entered into for the full restoration of the line between Toronto and Collingwood, comprising the re-erection of all structures in stone and iron, to the same standard as that adopted in the construction of the Grand Trunk Railway; and so soon as the schedule of works shall have been determined and approved in detail, the contract will be completed, with a view to the vigorous prosecution of the works during the ensuing season.
The practical operations of the road during the past year have been conducted with eminent success, the regularity and safety in the running of trains, the dispatch of freight, the maintenance of way, and the care of stock having been highly satisfactory; whilst the expenditure has been considerably diminished, and the whole service (especially in view of the previous condition of the works) conducted with an economy most creditable to the judgment and vigilance of the Company's superintendent.
This will be apparent on an examination of the several statements attached, which show that, although the tonnage of freight of all classes, as compared with the year 1858, has increased by 12,824 tons, the mileage of trains has been diminished 9,982 miles, whilst the total cost of operating and management has been decreased to the amount of $58,777.56. To this and other measures of economy in management (throughout the departments of the Company's service) is to be attributed the result that, although the total earnings of the year 1859 was in consequence of the temporary depression in trade, less than that of the year previous, the nett revenue has been augmented by the sum of $58,859.92.
The receipt of the Company from all sources during the year 1859 amounted to $240,044.86 of which $201,441.80 was local, and $38,603.06 on through traffic, showing a total deficiency in comparison with the revenue of 1858 of $21,657.06.
That deficiency is more than accounted for in the returns of passenger traffic, on which service along there has been a decrease of $30,276.84, of which $26,038.58 has been local. This is so far satisfactory as showing that the falling off has been due to purely temporary causes, and in a service which being entirely non-competitive will doubtless be fully restored when those causes shall have been removed; indeed, during the last five months of the year there has been a marked and growing improvement in revenue, which by the most recent returns is rapidly increasing (as in comparison with the previous year) on both passenger and freight services. With reference to the through trade, the character of the route for despatch and punctuality has been fully maintained, and its efficient management is best evinced by the fact that the damages of every class on the whole season's operations have amounted tu but $134.30.
The transactions of the line of Upper Lake Steamers in connection with the Company has been satisfactory, and have sufficed to prove that such a line is self-sustaining. The Directors have accordingly declined to entertain any proposition for future Upper Lake connections, involving directly or indirectly any guarantee or subsidy to be granted by the Company.
The returns of this service show a profit to the Company of $10,684.18, a result which, if not so ample as could be desired, and as the merits of the route should secure, is till an improvement upon previous years, and, as being for a term during which the Western trade was depressed beyond precedent, sufficiently illustrates the growing value and favor of the route.
It is worthy of remark, as establishing the value of the through trade of this Company to the commerce and carrying trade of the Province at large, that of a total tonnage of 24,897 tons going East, 12,778 tons have been transferred to the Grand Trunk Railway, whilst no less than 22,692 tons have been consigned to that and other Canadian interests.
It is a matter of regret to the Directors that the trade of Lake Superior and of Green Bay, which legitimately pertains to this line of Railways, has not yet been made tributary to its revenues by the establishment of any regular connections. They strongly commend the matter to the consideration of their successors, being convinced that the territory referred to will, under proper arrangements, ultimately contribute to the business of this line, to which it geographically belongs.
In the statements attached, it will be found that the nett revenue for the year, amounting to $42,844.95, has been chiefly appropriated to works of restoration and reconstruction in anticipation of the services of like nature to be provided by new capital. A further sum of $60,000 (being a temporary loan security of the act of last session, has been devoted to similar services; and expended as stated in Engineer's report, under the supervision and to the approval of the Inspector of Railways. By these means the works of the Company have not only been maintained in a condition of safety, but have been much improved in character, whilst the future expenditure of capital on restoration of the whole line, will be diminished by a like amount.
The Directors are gratified in announcing that by the co-operation of the London Committee, the temporary loan above referred to, together with previous advances made by the Government to the Company, representing a total debt of £24,909 10s. 4d., stg., was repaid in full on the 24th December last, as required by the order in Council.
This and all other conditions necessary to be fulfilled in order to the Company's availing of the advantages of the act of last session, have been fully and exactly complied with, so that the Company, as at present constituted, has now secured in permanence whatever privileges or concessions were conditionally granted by the act.
The Auditors' report affords satisfactory evidence of the accuracy with which the accounts of the Company have been kept, and of the exactness of the annual statements herewith submitted.
The Directors, in view of the many difficulties which have been surmounted, and the many pressing embarrassments which have been removed during the past year, feel warranted in congratulating the proprietary upon the improved condition of the Company's affairs:—with the floating liabilities liquidated, the works restored to efficiency, and thereby the cost of operation reduced to a minimum, and the special expenditure due to the maintenance of a dilapidated road averted, it may be confidently anticipated that on the revival of revenue (now already apparent) from the effects of the lat general commercial depression, the operations of the Company will assume a position of practical efficiency, and a high standard of financial credit.
All respectfully submitted.
Joseph C. Morrison, President.
The President said he might remark that on the 1st of August last year, the time at which the act of relief came into operation, the whole amount of the floating debt of the Company was $247,879. Of this the amount adjusted up to the present time was $192,935, leaving still against the road claims to the amount of $54,943. Against that they had first preference bonds which could be converted to the amount of $75,434. They commenced this year, he might say, without any indebtedness of that kind upon their shoulders. The whole debt that they now owed was that due to the Province and which had become funded.
Mr. J. B. Robinson then moved that the reports be adopted and printed. He had the greater pleasure in doing this after hearing the statement of the affairs of the road which had just been read. It was a very gratifying thing to observe the present satisfactory state of the road. There was no doubt that the act which had been passed through the legislature last session by the efforts of the Government had been the principal means of placing the road in this good position. With the good management of last year, and the beneficial effects of that measure the position the road now occupied was second to none in the Province. He hoped that its affairs would in future be so conducted as to render it what is undoubtedly would be—of great profit to this city as well as to the bondholders and shareholders generally. He had great pleasure in moving the adoption of the reports.
Mr. G. W. Wyatt seconded the resolution, which was unanimously adopted.
Mr. John Duggan moved the next resolution, that Messrs. John Cameron and George H. Wyatt be scrutineers of the election of seven Directors for the current year and that the polls be kept open till half-past three o'clock.
Mr. Crawford seconded the motion.
The resolution was also carried.
Mr. Denison then removed that Messrs. Drummond and Brent be the auditors for the next year.
The motion was seconded by Mr. Angus Morrison and carried.
Mr. Richard Denison thought it would be well before they adjourned to move a vote of thanks to the President, Directors and officers of the Company for their valuable and efficient services during the past year.
Mr. Angus Morrison thought it very desirable, seeing the Vice-President (Mr. Cumberland) present, that the shareholders should learn something from him regarding his trip to England in connection with the affairs of the Company, and the feeling of the English shareholders. There had been undoubtedly a great change for the better in the management of the road. As the number of Directors was not limited to seven instead of eleven, the management in future would be in the hands of comparatively a few; and he hoped they would transact the business in as satisfactory a manner as those of last year. The shareholders owed them many debts of thanks for the manner in which they had conducted the affairs, having had to contend with many difficulties brought about by the embarrassments in which the road had become involved in previous years. He trusted Mr. Cumberland, whose modesty prevented him volunteering a statement, would given them an account of his doings in London.
Mr. Cumberland said any information he had was also in possession of his colleagues, and had been stated as succinctly as possible in the report that had just been presented. That information had become public and was now well known. He would be happy to give the shareholders any facts relating to the negotiations of Dr. Beattie and himself, but he really did not know what further to say than what had already appeared. If there was any information on specific points which any gentleman desired to elicit, he would be very glad to afford it. As to the view of the bondholders in London, they could not be better illustrated than by the fact that, although they had previously embarked a large sum of money in the enterprise, which through commercial, and what he must call too sanguine expectations as to the value of the property, had become improfitable, they had again come forward in such a manner as, with the aid of the Legislature of this Province, had enabled them to get rid of their liabilities and to put the road in a state of permanent efficiency. The y hope so to restore the road as to enable it in future to earn sufficient revenue to make the investment profitable. That they can only expect by extreme economy and good management; and he and his colleagues had used their best efforts in this direction, which was shown in the fact that notwithstanding there had been a decrease in the earnings of the road, the net revenue had largely increased. Under the happy circumstance of a revival in trade their more recent returns showed that the revenue was approaching a profitable point. The loss in passenger traffic was a serious one, but this was a source of revenue in which the loss could not be permanent. In that respect, the road was non-competitive, and they, therefore, could confidently expect that this traffic would soon be restored to the same state as in 1857. The through route had certainly been more profitable than in many previous years. Last year they lost no customers of former years, and so in every ensuing year they hoped not only to retain all we have at present but secure additional ones. The Directors had come to this decision that the line of boats running in connection with the road on the upper lakes had established itself in such a manner as to be self-sustaining; and therefore they were ready to give a berth to those who chose to come and take it, but they were not ready to give anything in the way of bonuses or to guarantee that the line would be profitable. They would have to bear their own risks now, though the Company had assisted in showing that those risks were nearly nil. The Directors were certainly not going to sacrifice one iota of their revenues towards the maintenance of the line. During the ensuing year, the Directors were to be assisted by a board in London, consisting of three of the proprietors. This board would be assisted by a board in London, consisting of three of the proprietors. This board would be great advantage to them in a financial way and conduce to the general credit and stability of the Company. The officers of next year would enter upon their duties with a strong hope that as soon as the works were completely restored to a state of efficiency, and their expenditure under the able direction of the Superintendent reduced to a minimum point, they would be able to show a net revenue undoubtedly equal to the new capital, and he believed equal, or nearly equal, to a restoration of the next class of bonds, and he hoped at an early day the following class ????—at day rate, even beyond the payment of a part upon the first two classes of bonds. Even apart from the payment of interest on the two first classes, it was certainly essential to the community that this road should be again brought into good working operation. He doubted, however, whether a road could be said to be in efficient operation which did not meet the interest on its bonded debt; and their first efforts should be directed to the accomplishment of this object. In conclusion, he acknowledged the confidence and assistance he had received from the President and Directors. This had unquestionably very much increased his and his colleagues responsibility, because it created apprehensions in their minds that they would be unable fully to gain all that was required and expected of them. It was gratifying to him to ind that the proprietors were so well satisfied with their labors. He trusted that by their combined efforts during the year the shareholders would see that, they were now on the highway to a future success.
Mr. John Cameron said that he had from the very moment the road was projected a very warm interest in its success. He felt that it would be not only a great benefit to the city of Toronto, but also to the important country through which is ran. A short time ago, he must confess, he began to think he had been too sanguine in his hopes with regard to it. The reports, however, which had been read were extremely satisfactory. They showed that despite all the pecuniary difficulties with which it had to contend, it had so far recovered its position as to make him feel that, after all, he had not been too sanguine. The statement given by Mr. Cumberland was also satisfactory; and he had no doubt that with the aid of those gentlemen in London he had spoken of, the financial affairs of the Company would be carried on with greater ability and benefit than had heretofore been the case. He was sure that as far as he was concerned, he wished the enterprise every prosperity; and he trusted to have the great satisfaction of seeing the realization of those fond hopes which he had entertained at its inception.
The motion was then put and carried.
The election of Directors was subsequently proceeded with, the result being as follows:—Hon. J. C. Morrison, T. W. Cumberland, Esq., J. B. Robinson, Esq., M.P.P., James Beaty, Esq. of Toronto; and John Brown, Esq., Sydney Lawrence, Esq., and Henry Wheeler Esq., of London.
[TO BE COMPLETED.]
Railways: N.Ry. of Can.