Looking Back


Wartime in Canada


When war was declared on September 10, 1939, many young Canadian men and women left home and joined the forces.


Canadians were constantly reminded of hardships on the war front and citizens on the home front were urged to join the battle: "Thrift, care and conservation have joined the fighting forces!" The Wartime Prices and Trade Board, for example, issued publications that showed housewives how to re-make clothing: Dad's old underwear becomes a child's vest and training pantie; a pair of socks becomes a toque; an old coat changes into a child's snowsuit; a man's suit is cut down into a woman's suit.


The government designated some food commodities as being in short supply because they were imported or would free up supplies for the military. They also wanted to ensure that no one person had more on his plate than another person. In January 1942 each household had to apply for food ration books which were issued for each member of the family. The first booklets contained coupons for sugar (used in the manufacture of shells and bombs); tea and coffee came next. Later booklets contained coupons for butter and meat (2 pounds per person per week). Gasoline was rationed in April 1942. Beer, wine, spirits and even clothing (silk stockings!) were rationed.


The last coupon ration book was issued in September 1946.


Ration books were issued to every person in the house

One coupon = 2 pounds of meat per week

Gasoline Coupons

Dad's underwear becomes Jr.'s

Gasoline coupons in well-worn leather case

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Last updated: March 4, 2019