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"Great North Western Telegraph Company Court Action"
Announced 21 May 1899
Much interest has been taken recently in the High Court in Toronto, Ontario. Two Boston brokers have gone to the Court to annul the lease of the Montreal Telegraph Company's lines by the Great North Western Telegraph Company. The lease was granted in 1881, and was for a period of 99 years, the rental being paid of $165,000. The plaintiffs in the case are Hugh M Morrow and William A Clark, Jr., who, as holders of 750 shares in the Great North Western, claim that the company has no power whatsoever to enter into such an agreement, nor had the Western Union Telegraph Company power to guarantee the rental, as they really did. The plaintiffs add, that the Great North Western Telegraph is in reality the Western Union and that Mr HP Dwight, who holds most of the GNWT shares and is president of the company, is really an agent of the Western Union. They further claim that the agreement in dispute is "... an attempt by a foreign corporation, through possession of the majority stock of the Great North Western, to exercise and use the statutory powers and franchises of that company, solely in their own interests, an attempted misuse and abuse of statutory powers and franchises." In their statement of defense, the GNWT insists upon the validity of the agreement, and the power of the Western Union to guarantee the rental. They claim the agreement was made in the interests of all parties, and has for more than eighteen years been faithfully carrying this arrangement out. The holder of the shares, now alleged to be held by the plaintiffs at the time of the entering into of the agreement, the defense say, was Erastus Wiman, a Canadian by birth, who was one of the most active shareholders in procuring the assent of the companies to the agreement. The shares were used to vote upon, and by them the agreement was entered into. The GNWT submits that such shares cannot now be used for the purpose of invalidating the same agreement. The other parties to the defense, the Montreal Telegraph and Western Union Companies, and Mr Dwight, should the court consider him a codefendant, set up the same pleas, with one or two additions.