Currency of the Canadian P.O.W. Camps, WWII
By: MICC Lifetime member #001
One of the most difficult collections to make is that of the currency issued in the various Canadian Prisoner-of-War camps during the Second World War. None of them were issued with other than a transitory purpose in mind and records seem to be singularly lacking. Many that still exist show dates – but invariably from 1945 or ’46. It was the Department of National Defence’s policy to frequently withdraw and re-issue different “canteen tickets” (for that is what they were). This was thought necessary so that large numbers might not accumulate in unauthorized hands, but the result has been that many earlier issues presumably no longer exist. We have no way of knowing.
There is little consistency among the issues since each camp commander had them printed locally as needed. Most are printed on thin cardboard “theater stock” and a great many are of this ticket-size. Only in one case have metallic tokens been reported.
Canada first became “host” to P.O.W.s in July, 1940 when prisoners from the North African campaign were interned. By the end of the war, Canada had had a total of 26 camps with prisoners totally 36,000, two-thirds of whom were held at Medicine Hat and Lethbridge. In keeping with the Geneva Convention, all prisoners save proven war criminals were repatriated as peace returned, the last two camps (Hull, Quebec and Monteith, Ontario) closing in December, 1946.
Of the 26 camps, we are today aware of scrip from just 14. Perhaps the others issued none; perhaps they are totally extinct. Again, we don’t know. The best collection was assembled by J.D. Ferguson and is today part of the National Currency Collection in Ottawa. The brief compendium below consists of this collection plus others reported by Keller, Slabaugh and Shafer. They are:
(a) CAMP 10 (Chatham, Ontario). No date. Ticket-size. Black print on yellow cardboard. Denom: 1-ct (no serial nos); 5-, 10-,25-cents, $1 (serial nos).
(b) CAMP 20 (Gravenhurst, Ont.) Dated “Good For January – June 1946”. Rectangular shape, cream cardboard. No ser. nos. Denom: 5-, 10-, 25-, 50-ct, $1
(c) CAMP 23 (Monteith, Ont.) Two issues: (1) Green cardboard “tickets” with red stripe, “”Expires Dec. 31, 1945”; known 1-ct (no ser. no.) and $1 (ser. no.). (2) Blue “ticket-size”, “Expires on Sept. 30th (year?)”; known: 1-ct (no ser. no); 5-, 10-, 25-ct, $1 (ser. nos).
(d) INTERNMENT CAMP 32 (Hull, P.Q.). “Good From Jan. 1, 1946 to June 30, 1946”. No serial nos. Known: 1-ct blue; 5-ct red; 10-ct green; 25-ct yellow and $1 white.
(e) INT. CAMP 40 (Farnham, P.Q.). No date or ser. nos. Blockish blue cardboard. Known: 1-, 5-, 10-, 25-ct, $1 and $5.
(f) CAMP NO. 42 (Newington, P.Q.) “January – June 1946”. Blockish blue cardboard, no ser. nos. Known: 1-, 5-, 10-, 25-ct, $1.
(g) INT. CAMP – 44 (Grand Ligne, P.Q.) “Jan. – June 46”. Blockish red cardboard, no ser. nos. Known: 1-, 5-, 10-, 25-ct, $1, $5.
(h) CAMP 101 (Angler, Ont.). “Expires December 31st, 1945”. Red cardboard, no ser. nos. Known: 1-, 5-, 10-, 25-, 50-ct, $1
(i) CAMP 130 (Kananaskis and later Seebe, Alta.) Two issues. (1) “Jan. – June 1946”, blue cardboard of progressively larger size, no ser. nos. Known: 1-, 5-, 10-, 50-ct, $1, $5. (2) “KANANASKIS CAMP”, no date, no ser. nos. Ticket-size yellow cardboard. Known: 5-, 10-, 25ct.
(j) INTERNMENT CAMP 133 / P.W.C. LETHBRIDGE, ALTA. No date but ser. nos. Yellow ticket-size cardboard. Known: 1-, 5-, 10-, 25-, 50-ct, $1, $5. Slabaugh catalogues brass tokens of 5, 10- and 25-ct under this camp; details unknown.
(k) CAMP 21 (Espanola, Ont). 30- and 50-ct scrip listed by Keller. Details unknown.
(l) (Camp 100), P.O.W. CANTEEN, NEYS (Ont.). “1st Oct. – 31st Dec. 1944”. Ticket-size buff cardboard, ser. nos., color of printing varies. Known: 1-ct red; 5-ct black; 10-ct red, 50-ct green (also 25-ct, $1 and $5 according to Keller).
(m) (Camp 132) P.O.W. CANTEEN, MEDICINE HAT (Alta.) INTERNMENT CAMP. No date., pink ticket-size cardboard except 1-ct smaller. Ser. nos. except 1-ct. Known: 1-, 5, 10-, 50-ct, $1.
(n) (Camp 135) INT. CAMP WAINWRIGHT (Alta). “Not Good After June 30th, 1946”. Blockish red cardboard, no ser. nos. Known: 1-, 5-, 10-, 25-, 50-ct, $1, $5.
Previously printed in the MICC Numismatic Journal Vol-01, Issue-05