Fundraising efforts during the First World War were widespread and provided a means by which to engage everyone in the war effort. One of the largest national fundraising initiatives began in the fall of 1917. The Victory Loan, or Victory Bond, campaign was introduced in October 1917 and ran for three weeks from November 12 – December 1. The campaign would go on to be repeated for a three week run in late November of 1918 and 1919. Its purpose was to support the war effort and the massive financial strain that came with it.
Fort William’s initial target as set by the Canadian government was $350,000 (over $5 million in 2017) and the city did not disappoint with a final tally of $1.11 million (over $17 million in 2017) invested in Victory Bonds that year. Port Arthur residents, companies, and municipality contributed a total of $815,000 (close to $13 million in 2017). Bonds were sold in varying denominations with $50 Bonds at the lowest level. Ten, twenty, and fifty year bonds accrued interest payable half-yearly and payments could be spread over a five month period.
Victory Bond campaigns were coordinated at the local level by a committee and advertised heavily in local media, particularly newspapers. The committees in Port Arthur and Fort William during the 1917 campaign were chaired by Mr. I. L. Matthews (Port Arthur) and Mr. Davidson W. Black (Fort William). Advertisements and articles appeared almost daily in local papers to promote, pressure, and cajole citizens to dig deep and buy more bonds. Favoured tactics included reminding people of their patriotic duty, that if they couldn’t fight at least their money could, and consistently asking readers if they were doing their full share. Victory Bonds were touted as the “Business Side of Winning the War” and local populations took up the call with open arms (and wallets).