This Week in History


“Buy Victory Bonds!”

For the week of Monday, October 26, 2015

On November 1, 1915, the Canadian government launched the first Victory Loan campaign to help pay for war expenses. “War bonds” were widely used by many countries involved in the First World War. Money used to purchase a bond went to the government, to be repaid with interest after a set length of time. Canadians, eager to “do their bit," made the Victory Loans campaign wildly successful.

Victory buttons were handed out to those who purchased bonds
© Button / CWM 20030334-37 / Canadian War Museum

During the First World War there were five separate Victory Loan campaigns. The first raised more than $100 million, twice the expected amount. To encourage Canadians to purchase Victory Bonds, the Victory Loan Dominion Publicity Committee created posters that appealed to Canadian patriotism. Communities that raised significant amounts were given Victory Honour Flags in recognition.

Money raised by the sale of Victory Loans paid for ammunition and other equipment. The First World War ended in 1918, but there were still bills to be paid. The Government began one last campaign in 1919, “the Clean Up,” to raise money for Europe’s recovery and the rehabilitation of Canadian soldiers.

Victory Loan parade on Burrard St., Vancouver, B.C., 1942
© City of Vancouver Archives

Victory Loans were brought back in the Second World War with nine campaigns between 1939 and 1945. This time it was the responsibility of the National War Finance Committee to advertise the purchase of Victory Loans. Events like Victory Loan drives, rallies, and even parades were held to encourage people to buy, with celebrities and famous veterans as part of the promotion. To involve children, the government created collectable War Savings Stamps. Sixteen stamps could be converted into a $5.00 War Savings Certificate.

Victory Loans helped to fund a war effort that included the Battle of Passchendaele, a national historic event, and Vimy Ridge and Beaumont-Hamel, two of Canada's only national historic sites that are outside the country. Loans helped control inflation, strengthened Canadian patriotism, and proved the eagerness of all Canadians to help with the war effort. The Victory Loan was the precursor of today’s Canada Savings Bonds and Canada Premium Bonds.

To learn more about Victory Loans visit What If ... in the This Week in History archives. For more information on the First and Second World Wars, visit the Government of Canada’s World War Commemorations page.

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