At the end of December 2004, approximately 804,000 unclaimed balances, worth some $245 million, were on the Bank's books. Over 88% of these were under $500, representing 22% of the total value outstanding. The oldest balance dates back to 1900.
An "unclaimed balance" is a Canadian-dollar deposit or negotiable instrument, issued or held by a federally regulated bank or trust company. It can be in the form of a deposit account, bank draft, certified cheque, deposit receipt, money order, GIC, term deposit, credit card balance, or traveller's cheque.
When there has been no owner activity in relation to the balance for a period of 10 years, and the owner cannot be contacted by the institution holding it, the balance is turned over to the Bank of Canada, which acts as custodian on behalf of the owner.