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Description found in Archives

Wartime Prices and Trade Board sous-fonds [textual record]. 

Sous-fonds consists of



Place of creation

No place, unknown, or undetermined

184.65 m of textual records
Textual records
90: Open
Textual records
Microfilm reel C-4836
90: Open
Archival reference no.
Former archival reference no.

Terms of use

Copyright belongs to the Crown.

Finding aid 64-1 is a keyword out of context list sorted alphabetically by subject keyword. This finding aid is available in four blue bound volumes. The finding aid is also available on microfilm reel C-4836 and on 18 microfiches. Each entry in the file list consists of the following elements: keyword, file name, opening and closing date of the file, the Record Group number (always 64), sub-group number, box (or volume) number, file number, and file part number. 64-1 90 (Paper)

Finding aid 64-2 is a typed keyword index sorted by the organizational unit or sub-group index number. This finding aid is available in four red bound volumes and in a paper computer print-out. Each entry in the file list consists of the following elements: keyword, file name, opening and closing date of the file, the Record Group number (always 64), sub-group number, box (or volume) number, file number, and file part number. 64-2 (Paper)

Biography / Administrative history

On the eve of the Second World War Prime Minister Mackenzie King determined to avoid the problems of profiteering, hoarding and inflation which plagued Canada's contribution in the First World War. Under the powers conferred by the War Measures Act, 1914 (5 Geo. V, ch. 2), an order-in-council (P.C. 2516, 3 September 1939) established the Wartime Prices and Trade Board, initially composed of only three senior public servants, "to provide safeguards under war conditions against the undue enhancement in the prices of food, fuel and other necessities of life, and to ensure an adequate supply and equitable distribution of such commodities."

Further orders-in-council extended the Board's powers. P.C. 3998, 5 December 1939, empowered the Board to investigate costs, prices, and profits; to license persons who dealt in any way with the necessities of life; to fix maximum prices and markups; to regulate the sale and distribution of the necessities of life; to take possession of stocks being withheld; to buy and sell goods; and to recommend embargos on exports. P.C. 4616, 11 September 1940, extended the Board's authority into rentals and housing. P.C. 2448, 8 April 1941, introduced import and export controls. P.C. 8523, 24 October 1941, brought in the first wage control.

In 1941 the cost of living began to rise sharply and the beginnings of an inflationary spiral became evident. In a radio broadcast on 18 October Mackenzie King announced a price freeze and the stabilization of wages and salaries, soon incorporated into the far-reaching Wartime Prices and Trade Board Regulations (P.C. 8528, 1 December 1941). This enlarged the Board's membership and made provision for the controllers of the Wartime Industries Control Board, with which its policies were tightly interlocked. The Regulations established a "basic period," 15 September to 11 October 1941, as a benchmark from which all subsequent maximum prices were calculated. Wages were tied to the 1926-1929 levels and could only be notched up with proven increases in the cost of living. Consumer rationing began late in 1942. The Board became the key agency in the government's wartime economic policies. [Christopher Robb Waddell, "The Wartime Prices and Trade Board: Price Control in Canada in World War II." Unpub. Ph.D. dissertation, York Univ., 1981. p. iv.]

The new Chairman, Donald Gordon, former Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada, "sold" the Board's policies to Canadians through radio addresses and speeches. "The price ceiling means hardship," he stated, "inflation means ruin." [Quoted, Waddell, p. 107.]

In all, the control of prices was notably more effective than in the First World War, and the Board's work was one of the most successful aspects of Canada's war effort. [C.P. Stacey, Arms, Men and Governments; the War Policies of Canada, 1939-1945, p. 123.] The Board continued to play a major role in postwar decontrol. Most price controls lapsed in the last half of 1946 and, although the Board had outlived its usefulness, it only finally expired on 30 April 1951 with the end of the Continuation of Transitional Measures Act, 1947 (11 Geo. VI, ch. 16.).

The general organization of the Board may be divided into four broad classifications:

a. The Board. Composed of the Chairman, Deputy Chairman, General Counsel and Secretary, and nine Members who were senior civil servants, including the Dominion Statistician and the Chairman, Wartime Industries Control Board;

b. Head Office. Eleven divisions were concerned mainly with policy, coordination of all activities of the Board and questions of internal organization;

c. Commodity and Trade Administrations. Administrators for the major commodity fields of work assisted in the organization of supply and the anticipation and prevention of shortages. They served as the direct contact between the Board and the industries, trades, and services under its jurisdiction. At the Board's greatest extent, the administrations were grouped into seven Coordinations: Real Property, Pulp and Paper, Foods, Publishing and Allied Industries, Textiles and Clothing, Metal and Wood Products, and Distribution Trades;

d. Regional and Field Organizations. There were ultimately 126 local offices, primarily concerned with the consumer rationing programmes of the Board, as well as maintaining close connection with Wartime Industries Control.

The staff of the Board reached its maximum size in July 1943. On 31 December 1945 it numbered 6,176. The Board organized five Crown companies to assist its work: Commodity Prices Stabilization Corporation Limited, Wartime Food Corporation Limited, Canadian Wool Board Limited, Wartime Salvage Limited, and Canadian Sugar Stabilization Corporation.

Until 14 August 1941 the Minister of Labour was responsible for the Board, then responsibility passed to the Minister of Finance. The Chairmen of the Wartime Prices and Trade Board were Hector B. McKinnon, September 1939 - November 1941; Donald Gordon, November 1941 - April 1947; and Kenneth Wiffin Taylor, April 1947 - April 1951.

Additional information

Source of title
Décret du Conseil P.C. 2516, 03/09/1939


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