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Description found in Archives

International Claims series related to the War Claims Commission, the Foreign Claims Commissions and the Custodian of Foreign Property [textual record] 


1916-2001, predominant 1942-1988

Place of creation


14.00 meters of textual records

Scope and content

This closed series represents the consolidated record of activity of the Department of Finance in coordinating and directing the activities of the Office of the Custodian of Enemy Property, the War Claims Commission and the two Foreign Claims Commissions (1970-1989) which collectively operated from 1916 to 1989 in addressing various issues related to trading with the enemy regulations, war claims of Canadians, claims of Canadians against arbitrary confiscation of property by foreign governments and related matters. From a Department of Finance perspective, these related activities all had the common denominator as "International Claims," and the prefix "IC" appears as the common prefix in the title of the entire consolidated series. The records relate to Department of Finance review of complex cases requiring clarification of principles or the application of principles in adjudication of claims, the negotiation of treaties and financial agreements with foreign states in relation to the mechanisms whereby funds and claims would be settled, reparations (arising from both the First World War and the Second World War), coordination with the Inter-Allied Reparations Agency, the settlement of external debt, review of specific claims, review of disallowed claims, claims arising from the Halifax explosion 1917 and the only existing consolidated set of Treasury Board lists of submission approvals related to the War Claims Commission, 1952-1969. The records related to the second Foreign Claims Commission addressing claims related to East Germany and Yugoslavia (1987-1989) with Peter A. Hargadon as Chief Commissioner are the only known surviving documentation of this entity.

Textual records
32: Restricted by law
from 7048 to 7117
32: Restricted by law
Archival reference no.

The finding aid is an unverified file list providing file code, file title, file type, file number and inclusive dates. 19-181 90 (Electronic)

Additional information

Custodial history
This series reflects a consolidated and reorganized series created by the Department of Finance in pursuit of its role as an office of primary interest in relation to a series of related matters arising from war claims and other types of claims arising from arbitrary actions of foreign governments directed at citizens, 1916-1989. The primary relationships documented in the series relate to the Custodian of Enemy Property (1916-1985), the War Claims Commission, 1952-1970, and two separate but identically named "Foreign Claims Commissions," 1970-1987 and 1987-1989. The origins of the Custodian of Enemy Property as a discrete administrative entity go back to the First World War. Until 1920, the Minister of the Finance was the Custodian and it was always the Department of Finance which, in the policy sense, had primary responsibility for the procedures related to seizing of property and settlement of claims, while the Custodian of Enemy Property played a largely administrative role, especially after 1952. Some of the surviving records reflect activity stretching back to the First World War when the Custodian of Enemy Property (whose records are arranged in a separate fonds) was first constituted. During the interwar period (1920-1939), the Custodian of Enemy Property was administered through the Secretary of State. A greatly diminished office was revived in the context of the Second World War, with special responsibility for administering the Trading with the Enemy Regulations and administering confiscated property of Japanese Canadians, though its duties extended far beyond that class of property expropriations and compensation. (There is virtually no documentation of the administration of property of Japanese Canadians by Custodian of Enemy Property in the present series.) The Office of the Custodian ceased operations in 1985 and disappeared entirely, even as a paper entity, under changes to legislation governing the residual functions performed by the Department of Public Works and Government Services until 1996. The Office of the Custodian continued after the Second World War with its administrative structure in tact and became a logical administrative support for the War Claims Commission created in 1952. This latter entity, composed of a Chief Commissioner, Thane A. Campbell, and several Deputy Commissioners, arose out of the recommendations of an antecedent "Advisory Commission [on War Claims]," 1951-1952, under the Chairmanship of Chief Justice of Nova Scotia and Ex-Minister of Finance, J. L. Ilsley. Though formally created under the Enquiries Act, the War Claims Commission was not a true autonomous entity, but rather a very simple deliberative body operating as a quasi-judicial Commission, administratively supported by the Office of the Custodian, with its entire modus operandi structured under the recommendations of the antecedent Advisory Committee of J. L. Ilsley as interpreted and refined by the Department of Finance through 1970. The focus of the War Claims Commission was on claims for damage or loss in theatres of war anywhere in the world by Canadian citizens or corporate entities. As well as having a leading role in negotiating the treaties and financial agreements in which the settlements process operated internationally, the Department of Finance reviewed all precedent-setting cases and set out interpretations and directions by which the Commission was to determine settlements (in relation to Treaties and Agreements negotiated by personnel of the Department of Finance in conjunction with the Department of External Affairs). The Treasury Board (as a Committee of Cabinet) was the entity responsible for final approval of all settlements and had to approve the appropriations for each award by the Commission, but it was Department of Finance that was operating as the administrative head for the coordination of the claims fund and policy framework for the whole claims process. The administrative support role of the Office of the Custodian of Enemy Property is reflected in the residual case files series of selected War Claims preserved in a series for the "War Claims Branch" in the Custodian Fonds. The War Claims Commission was active from 1952 to 1960 and then revived from 1966 to 1970 for limited activity, including the production of a final published report incorporating and consolidating all the documentation of its governance, past summary reports of deliberations and results and selected decisions. Just when the War Claims Commission was closing out its operations, a formal Commission entitled the Foreign Claims Commission was constitued under the Inquires Act in 1970 (initially with Thane J. Campbell again serving as Chief Commissioner, and succeeded by T. D. MadDonald). This Commission addressed the many issues of claims arising from nationalization of assets of corporate entities and persons who were, or subsequently became, Canadian citizens. It operated through 1987 under the authority of various orders-in-council and evolving terms of reference and personnel. [See the administrative history for the Foreign Claims Commission Fonds in Mikan record 167 for details.] As with the War Claims Commission, the Department of Finance played a central role in the governance of this quasi-judicial process and was intimately involved in setting up the foreign treaties and financial agreements which governed the procedures under which this second distinct Commission would make awards. The Department of Finance also set up the Foreign Claims Fund from which the settlements and awards were made by the Commission from monies secured from foreign governments under formal agreements. Actual applications and associated documentation of claims was submitted through the Department of External Affairs. Just as this Commission was winding down, a final Foreign Claims Commission was constituted (1987-1989) with Peter A. Hargadon acting as Chief Commissioner under new terms of reference to deal with claims related exclusively to property expropriations during or after the Second World War in East Germany and Yugoslavia. The current series is the only known documentation of the activities of this final Foreign Claims Commission. For years after 1990, Hart Clark, a retired Finance Officer who had been active in the administration of Department of Finance responsibilities in these matters since 1945, continued to administer the occassional action required to settle a given outstanding account or verify past decisions. By the early 1990s, the activity was virtually dormant but, for various reasons, the general claims account was never finally closed and, therefore, under the terms of the relevant disposition authorities, the records were not deemed to have reached the end of their dormant stage. Complicating the custodial history and clear provenance of this series, was the administrative evolution of the Custodian of Enemy Property after 1943 when the Custodian came to provide administrative support to the War Claims Commission. Nominally the Secretary of State and the Registrar General of Canada had responsibility for the Office of the Custodian, which was in turn transferred to the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs. Then in 1972, responsibility (and records) were transferred to the Department of Supply and Services with the Deputy Minister of that department assuming the title and limited residual responsibilities of the Custodian. As a real operational entity, the Custodian essentially disappeared apart from custody of residual records and the assumption of the title of Deputy Custodian by the Deputy Head of the Department of Supply and Services. It was in these circumstances that the records of the Custodian, the War Claims Commission and the related files created by Department of Finance became subject to disposition in a regime of distributed custody of the records divided between Supply and Services and Department of Finance. Immediately after the War Claims Commission was wound down in 1970, the custody and administration of the records held by the Custodian were transferred to Supply and Services Canada (antecedent to Public Works and Government Services Canada) through the Government of Canada Accounting Branch, and then, when disposition was deferred, eventually a portion was transferred back to the custody of the Department of Finance. In the meantime, Finance consolidated the War Claims Commission records with records related to the Foreign Claims Commssions and the Office of the Custodian. These records were retained and reorganized as a consolidated "International Claims" series as required by the limited amount of continuing activity that arose from a few unsetttled claims and inquries. Finally, realizing that the reason for not closing out the disposition of the records was a technicality not readily resolved, the Department of Finance approached Library and Archives Canada to arrange a final transfer of the residual records that documented this sustained coordination by the Department of Finance of these activities for over 90 years. The disposition of these records had been anticipated since 1969 under RDA 1969/021 as amended by 77/006 and 77/007. The original authority was granted to Department of Finance to cover records considered to have been created by the Secretary of State through the agency of the War Claims Commission. 77/006 was granted to Supply and Services to deal with the files originally in the custody of Finance in 1969 as well as some "policy" files, the origins of which are not clearly specified. 77/007 applies explicitly to records of the Office of the Custodian of Enemy Property related to activity under Trading with the Enemy Act. Both authorities in 1977 were granted at the time to the Department of Supply and Services (whjch was in physical possession of all records related to the Custodian, the two Commissions (and possibly some records originally generated by Department of Finance in coordinating the overall activity). These ambiguities in the authorities are largely irrelevant in that the small residual series amounts to a reorganized and integrated set of records documenting the activity of the Department of Finance with five separate entities and three related departments (Secretary of State re the Custodian, External Affairs --treaties and international financial agreements -- and Treasury Board which was a separate Secretariat after 1966). At the time of transfer in 2009, Library and Archives Canada had been trying to complete the transfer of these records for almost 20 years. The original terms of the authorities anticipated a selection after transfer, but the surviving series is too small to warrant or risk such a selection. In addition, the nature of the documentation relating to negotiations and other matters goes beyond the anticipated scope of any of the records disposition authorities. The main case file series related to the Office of the Custodian, the War Claims Commission and the first Foreign Claims Commission appears variously elsewhere in the Finance fonds as a highly selected and very limited series as well as in the Foreign Claims Commission fonds and the Custodian of Enemy Property fonds. The current series reflects the activity, custody and rearrangements of the Department of Finance over a sustained period at the end of which the records were kept in an artificially extended dormant status.

Source of title
The first portion of the title "International Claims" is derived directly from the organization of the consolidated series in which the prefix IC and term "International Claims" is the first portion of the title of every file in the consolidated and reorganized series. This "short" title was deemed too obscure and detached from the relationships documented over an 80 year period with entities whose formal titles were the "Custodian of Enemy Property," the "War Claims Commission" and "Foreign Claims Commissions." It would be far too easy for title searches to miss completely the relationship of this series to other series and fonds of related records and organizations. Therefore, the three primary entities whose coordination through the Department of Finance is documented by the series were incorporated into the title to facilitate access and retain what would have been explicit in antecedent organizations of the records.

Related materials
There are approximately 25 boxes of material related to Foreign Claims in the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Fonds. The last activity of the War Claims Commission in 1970 involved the compilation and publication of the entire corpus of governance documentation and various reports of the Commission from 1952 to 1970. Thane A. Campbell, Compiler, The War Claims Commission: World War II (A Consolidation of the Reports of the Commission with related documents and including cases to illustrate the principles and procedures of Adjudication), (Ottawa, Queens Printer, 1970). This published book includes the 1960 General Report of the Commission, the 1966 Supplementary General Report, The Report of the Advisory Commissioner (1952), various country-specific reports or memoranda on Treaty claims and payments, A Financial Analysis of Claims, A General Report on Prisoners of War in Europe and a large set of Supplementary edited final reports of cases before the Commission) comprising over half of the text.

Arrangement note
The arrangement of this non-provenancial series, tied directly to the Department of Finance Fonds, arises from the nature of the series. The series reflects consolidation and rearrangement by the primary creator (Finance) over a very long period of time. The final organization of the series actually occurred when all of the related entities no longer existed and was effected to facilitate a long period of limited administrative activity on the files by the Department of Finance (as late as 2001). Many of these records relate directly or indirectly to other archival holdings, but with respect to provenance, they are clearly records created, acquired and rearranged by the Department of Finance for its purposes. The consolidated series, incorporating the surviving documentation related to activities over 80 years, has no clear connection to other provenancial series within the Department of Finance Fonds or elsewhere. The records in this series were not connected to the already existing series of the War Claims Commission (MIKAN 1392250) in the Finance Fonds. This tiny series is confined to a few case files and some administrative ephemera related directly to the War Claims Commission. In fact, this tiny holding is the actual final and only surviving archival vestige of Commission as a separate, but not wholly autonomous, entity. While the activity of the War Claims Commission makes up a large part of the records of this series, the series incorporates additional activities beyond the scope of that Commission (Custodian of Enemy Property and two Foreign Claims Commissions) completely distinct from the War Claims Commission. The smaller series for the War Claims Commission cannot logically be rearranged as a subordinate sub-series of this non-provenancial series because the provenance and origins of the two series is completely distinct, the one arising from operational activities of a subordinate entity before 1970 and the other arising from reorganization of the records due to administrative requirements arising after 1990. The Office of the Custodian of Enemy Property Fonds (MIKAN 203108) also contains records of the War Claims Commission by virtue of the administrative support provided by the former to the latter. The main body of case file records related to the Commission is found in that separate fonds for the simple reason that the Custodian had administered those case files exclusively through the life of the War Claims Commission and the Custodian survived nominally another 15 years after the Commission ceased activity. Indeed, the Custodian had a formal (War Claims) branch committed to this administrative support function (MIKAN 135186) There can be no case, however, for linking the present consolidated series with the Custodian Fonds. A large portion of the series documents the interactions of Finance with the Foreign Claims Commissions. There was never any connection between these oft remandated entities and the Custodian. The custodian did not provide administrative support to these entities. Each was a discrete entity under the Enquiries Act with a full administrative structure. The Foreign Claims Commission Fonds (MIKAN 167) is the other set of records related to the present series. Again, while related, there is a distinct disconnect in content and provenance with the International Claims series. The Foreign Claims Commission shared a common first Chief Commissioner with the War Claims Commission, but they were distinct entities. The Foreign Claims Commission Fonds reflects this narrow provenance. There are no records overlapping with the Custodian or the War Claims Commissioner. The activities of the two entities were separate and distinct. Moreover, this Foreign Claims Commission fonds narrowly relates to the first Foreign Claims Commission (1970-1987) by this name exclusively and provides no documentation of the Second Commission by the same name (1987-1989).


Related control no.

1. 69/021
2. 77/006
3. 2009-00776-X
4. RG19