Welcome toThe Rothschild Archive'swebsite

Sources for business history: catalogues of bank files

Sources for art history: Catalogue of the pictures of Alfred de Rothschild 1901

Sources for yachting history: Plans for Nathaniel von Rothschild's yacht Veglia 1905

Sources for natural history: Walter 2nd Lord Rothschild and his zebra carriage: c.1910

Sources for global financial history: Map of lines of the Brazil Railway Company: c.1920

Sources for business history: index cards to bank files

Sources for social history: Rothschild Hospital Paris: 1920s

Sources for business history: detail of a Rothschild bond coupon

Sources for architectural history: Halton House: 1890s

Sources for the history of travel: Lionel de Rothschild's tours of Spain: 1909

Sources for local history: Tring Park: c.1900

Sources for Royal history: shooting party with Edward Prince of Wales: 1893

Sources for political history: Lionel de Rothschild: first Jewish MP: 1858

Sources for sporting history: St Amant winner of the Derby: 1904

Sources for local history: gardeners at Aston Clinton: 1899

Sources for Rothschild family history: Lionel de Rothschild's yacht Rhodora: 1927

Sources for London history: entrance to New Court: 1965

Sources for design history: plans for Lionel de Rothschild's Rolls-Royce: 1930

Sources for business history: Rothschild gold bars produced by the Royal Mint Refinery: 1930s

Sources for business history: letters of August Belmont Rothschild Agent in New York: 1860s

Map and postcards of The Grand Trunk Railway, Canada

Throughout the 19th century, the primary and best known area of Rothschild business was the issuing of bonds as a means of raising finance. Loans contracted for by the Rothschild banking houses were destined for governments from every continent, and for a variety of purposes, including railway construction and other infrastructure projects.

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c.1910-c.1917

The Grand Trunk Railway was a railway system that operated in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario, and in the American states of Connecticut, Maine, Michigan, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. The Grand Trunk Railway’s main line ran from Portland, Maine to Montreal, and then from Montreal to Sarnia, Ontario, where it joined its western subsidiary.

The company was incorporated on November 10, 1852, as the Grand Trunk Railway Company of Canada to build a railway line between Montreal and Toronto. The railway was operated from headquarters in Montreal, Quebec, with corporate headquarters at 4 Warwick House Street, London, England.

The Grand Trunk Railway was one of the main factors that pushed British North America towards Confederation. The end of the American Civil War saw British North America on the verge of uniting in a single federation, and the Railway was well-positioned to take advantage of increased population and economic growth. By 1867, it had become the largest railroad system in the world by accumulating more than 2,055 km (1,277 miles) of track.

Loans for expansion

By the early twentieth century, the Grand Trunk Railway wanted to expand in Western Canada. In 1903, it entered into an agreement with the Canadian government to build a third railway system from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The Railway built and operated (with federal assistance) the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway from Winnipeg, Manitoba to Prince Rupert, British Columbia. The routing of these systems was extremely speculative and very expensive. To meet the costs of construction, the London banking house of N M Rothschild & Sons issued £3m Capital 3% First Mortgage Sterling bonds for the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company in 1905, with a further bond issue in 1909 of £2m 3% First Mortgage Sterling Bonds. Construction started in 1905, and the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway opened to traffic in 1914.

However, with the enormous cost of building the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, the limited financial returns being realised, and competition from shipping and American railways, the Railway was never profitable. Nearing bankruptcy in 1919, the entire system was nationalised, and in 1923 the government merged the Grand Trunk, the Grand Trunk Pacific, the Canadian Northern and the National Transcontinental lines into the new Canadian National Railways.

General offices of the Grand Trunk Railway company in Montreal

General offices of the Grand Trunk Railway company in Montreal

Grand Trunk Railway station Ottawa

Grand Trunk Railway station Ottawa