Previous Index Next

 

U26   DAYS OF PREPARATION

utmost caution. He placed the prospectus figure at fifty million dollars, and succeeded in having this amount practically, though informally, underwritten by consulting with the banks and other financial institutions and assuring himself of their co-operation. In the event it proved that the Canadian public were quite ready to lend their funds to their own Government, and the issue was more than twice subscribed, so that the Minister decided to dispose of one hundred millions in-stead of fifty.

An account of the financial operations during this period would be incomplete without some mention of the establishment of a branch of the Bank of England at Ottawa, with the Minister of Finance of Canada as its administrator. This was not a Canadian under-taking, and did not greatly influence Canadian business, except as Canada was affected by the exchange situation between New York and London, which the new branch was designed to rectify. The operations of German submarines, aided in the early months of the war by a few cruisers which were then at large, had made the shipment of gold from the United States to Great Britain a very costly and risky matter, and the establishment of a branch on British soil but on the continent of America, to which gold could be shipped and regarded as delivered to the Bank of England, restored freedom of communication and deprived American debtors of any excuse for non-settlement of their international obligations. Later on, when the gold movement was reversed and the United States became the great creditor nation, Ottawa served as a handy repository, out of the way of the main operations of the war, for the accumulation of a vast store of gold from all portions of the British Empire and indeed of the whole territory of the Allies, and specie payments were made out of this store whenever the American market showed an indisposition to absorb the securities sent across from Europe.


Previous Index Next