Feb 01, 2009

New topic ‘Mail Call’  is another hit with our classmates who remembered mail coming into Gander from various places, as well as letters written.  Note: it was all the guys who were doing the mailing apparently (come on gals, what up?).

Also, last visit to Faye’s Place, I had Jim Butler in the kitchen cooking up Pumpkin Muffins. It was made clear to me that although Jim claims he’s not a good cook, the muffin recipe was one submitted by Bob McKinnon. Bob is a great cook too. He, makes everything in the kitchen. Always something simmering on the stove, from his vegetable garden which flourishes in the heart of the Annapolis Valley in N.S.

Meanwhile, everyone was waiting for Jim to get out of the kitchen and share in some of this conversation. Here goes:




“I got in on the tail end of this discussion since I only logged on tonight for the first time this week. I do remember those Newfoundland Savings Bank stamps you are talking about. I had a recent conversation at work where I mentioned that program as an example of how we were encouraged to save and learn money management.

Great research, Bob.  I'll be clipping and saving that bit of info for later use, especially the pics.

Also appreciated Ron's contribution to the discussion. I remember having a 50-cent "Inland Revenue" stamp on my original birth certificate. I guess it indicates the amount that was paid to purchase the certificate (or to register it).

Jim Butler, Class of 1959


A lot of kids collected something in the 1950's. And the Government encouraged it. You could send 10c to Ottawa and receive 100 used stamps to get you started. But there were no computers, ipods, cellphones, etc. in those days to keep the kids busy doing things. So we have progressed from sorting stamps to high tech gadgets.

Remember the Post Office savings stamps? We would get a booklet at the Post Office and as we saved our pennies, we could buy savings stamps to fill it. It was a way to encourage saving, I guess. I'm not sure if we got interest on them. Perhaps someone could provide more information on it.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who did that.

Bob McKinnon, St. Joseph’s Class of 1961


If I really reach, there is a mail order item of some significance. It's the guitar I received for Christmas in 1958 out of the Sears catalogue. That's the one I took over to Cam Pritchett's to try and learn some new riffs, and the one I used on the taped stuff with Ken Barnes.

David Naish, Class of 1960


Man, the name Cam Pritchett keep coming up every time someone mentions getting a new guitar in Gander. (He’s) sort of an icon, don't you think.

Bob McKinnon


I took Dad and his friend Rita for lunch today so I got on the topic of ration stamps. We all remember we used them back in the 40's, they were sent to all families from Ottawa, and you were able to buy butter and sugar with them.  They were entered in a booklet, I should say I think they were stuck in designated squares in the booklet.  I do know Mom would send Joyce and I to the store with these stamps to buy the butter and sugar needed.  But other than that, not much else that I can remember.  This may come upon us again folks, we may all have rations instead of buying as we please.  Then again, the ration stamps are much different than the savings stamps you had in NL.    

Audrey Mingo Grantham, Class of 1958


Perhaps we should emphasize a bit about how folks got their mail in Gander. I don't believe there was door-to-door delivery in the old town. The Post Office was just down Pattison Road from us, on the opposite side from Hanger 13. We would go to the Post Office where everyone was assigned a PO Box. I used to collect stamps in those days so I would go to the Post Office and root through the garbage can for envelopes with stamps on them. I soon discovered that I was competing with other kids for those stamps. One of the Mercer kids also collected stamps and I would trade with him. He had a lot of those prized Newfoundland stamps and I would give him about 20 Canada stamps for one Newf.

Bob McKinnon


My recollection is dim, as well.  That particular style of stamp may have come through the postal service.  But, it looks much like the ones we would get for our account books through the Newfoundland Savings Bank.  However, the particular one you pictured does not have the bank named - I seem to recall that the Savings Bank stamps had the bank's name on them.  I know they all had a caribou pictured.  What were 'Postal Revenue' stamps used for?  Were they for taxes - like duty on items coming into the country?  When duty was paid, the stamp was a form of receipt? 

Interesting. Needs further inquiry.

Ron Mosher, Class of 1959



And this is research from Bob Pelley: Reference the savings stamps, I think I've been able to get some info: as given below: Notes ffrom http://www.heritage.nf.ca/society/rhs/rs_listing/099.html


 On Dec. 10, 1894 a watershed event in Newfoundland's history occurred the closure of the main banks in the colony, the Commercial and the Union. It ushered in the era of large Canadian Banks being involved in Newfoundland's affairs. The banknotes issued by the Commercial and Union banks were Newfoundland's only currency and consequently their demise left the colony destitute.

Canadian banks rushed to Newfoundland's assistance and began to establish branches in the colony. The Bank of Montreal made thegreatest contribution by lending the Newfoundland government sufficient funds to meet interest payments and for a resumption of the construction of the railway. In addition, they lent sufficient funds to allow a local merchant firm to buy fish from distressed fishermen. By 1897 the Bank of Montreal exclusively controlled the Newfoundland government's accounts. This led to the establishment of Canadian currency as legal tender within Newfoundland and the local currency being made compatible with that of the Dominion of Canada.

Befitting the new era in Newfoundland's economic history, in 1895 the Bank of Montreal moved into the building constructed for the first commercial bank in the colony, the BBNA. Two years later, the only Newfoundland bank to survive the 1894 Crash, the Newfoundland Savings Bank, moved into the building and ran its operations from there for 65 years.

The Savings Bank was an important tool that the Newfoundland government used to raise money for the war effort from 1914-1918 via a savings stamp plan that involved thousands of school children. In 1962 the Bank of Montreal purchased the Savings Bank and reacquired the building.


The savings stamps started during the 1st WW, issued between 1914 and 1918, apparently ended late 1918, maybe some issued early 1919. A second attempt was made during the 2nd WW.  I have seen an examples dating from 1943 but it may have started  a bit earlier. The stamps were first called  "War savings stamps" then "Nation savings stamps" and later had a red overstamp marked "Newfoundland savings banks".

There were four versions (see photos attached)

They came in a four-page booklet.   Generally the teacher "sold" the stamps once or twice a month but they could be obtained at the post office or the bank.  When a book was fiiled out which made I think 2.50$, it was taken to the bank which gave a deposit certificate for 3$.

Given that the Bank of Montreal bought out the Nfld Savings Bank after some discussion in 1962 it is likely that the savings stamps as we knew it stopped in the late 50s. (see photos attached of a typical booklet and some BM cancelled stamps)

By the way, if someone had access to a Scott's stamp catalog, he could quickly look up the stamps and the years of issue, I can't  find mine for the life of me! 

Though I was busy with post-Xmas activity I had a lot of fun with this one!

Nce day to all.

R G Pelley, Class of 1962


Thank you for the research Bob. I recall the savings stamps, and I recall buying a few from one of the teachers, but I cannot remember where they ended up. We had a stamp book at home and I remember seeing a few on a page at one point. Some amazing history. Thanks, and Happy New Year.

Campbell Pritchett, Class of 1959


I think these stamps were part of a savings program for children put out by the Newfoundland Savings Bank when it was operating.  Yes, NL had its own Bank at one time. 

Actually there was  bank crash there in the 1890's or later and a lot of the old fishermen lost their life savings. That was why banks had a hard time getting the old guys to start savings accounts in NL in early part of the last century - they weren't trusted.  They kept their money in tins in trunks or somewhere in the house instead.  

In the late 40s and early 50s there was a program put on in the schools where children could start savings accounts in this bank. The only location of this bank was St. John's - there were no branches that I am aware of.  The program must have been sponsored by the Dept of Education because children would buy these stamps from their teachers and put them in their account book. 

Deposits of any amount were accepted, I can remember putting in only 10 cents at times. 

BTW, stamps were an actual form of money exchange at one time in NL. I don't know if this was so anywhere else, but, I can remember my mother telling me how people sent money in the mail in the form of stamps - I don't know if they were redeemable for cash or not, or, if the persons receiving them used them as monetary exchange. 

In any case, the Newfoundland Savings Bank was later taken over by the Bank of Montreal sometime in the late 50's. I actually had an account there when I was in the primary or early elementary grades and just forgot about it until I went to university in '59. 

I received a letter about this account that was sitting there for years unused.  I was asked what did I want to do about it.  The same day I got the letter which my parents had forwarded to me, I took off down to the bank on Duckworth Street. Didn't have enough money for fare - had to walk from way up on Freshwater Road. The old account book hadn't been kept up to date and was reading only something like 20 or 25 dollars. When I went to the wicket with my letter, I was told the balance was something like $125 or more.  I made my withdrawal, closed off the account right away and took a taxi back to the boarding house with my new found wealth.  The rest was blown by the weekend.  So much for the Newfoundland Savings Bank.

 Ron Mosher, Class of 1959


Yes I'm curious to see if anyone else did this and to find out more about the postal savings plan. I don't remember how many I had but you can see that the face value is 10c so I probably had many booklets.

Bob McKinnon


Thanks to everyone above for participating and the research and photos submitted. If you think all of this brings back memories, wait until next time when we hear about the love letter that Pelley wrote to his girlfriend and it first  made its way to her father. Or from Eric Smith and the letter he tore up, never to be seen by his  mother. Oh the secrets we have held, all of these years, so much fun to remember. Anyone else wanting to chime in on this topic or any others is welcome: write to me and Jack will get it posted here for all to read: Faye@villagereporter.com