Quebec History Marianopolis College

Date Published:
May 2005

L’Encyclopédie de l’histoire du Québec / The Quebec History Encyclopedia


Public Debt of Canada


[This article was published in 1948; for the full citation, see the end of the text.]

Debt, Public. In 1867 the new Dominion government took over the debts of the provincial governments that came into federation. By 1914 this debt had increased to $544,391,369; though against this were assets of $208,394,519, leaving a net debt of $335,996,850. This debt, moreover, had been incurred in the main for productive purposes, such as the Intercolonial and transcontinental railways, and the canals - assets which, though not perhaps realizable, had contributed to the development of the country, and thus to its taxable capacity. Of this debt by far the greater part was held outside Canada, the principal of the Dominion funded debt payable in London, England, in 1914, being over $300,000,000, as against less than $1,000,000 payable in Canada. Since 1914 this situation has been vastly altered. The net debt of the Dominion of Canada has increased from $335,996,850 to over $11,298,000,000. Almost the entire amount of Canada's war financing was carried out through domestic operations. Of the total funded debt and treasury bills outstanding as at Mar. 31, 1945, amounting to $13,984,000,000, less than 2.5 per cent. was payable outside of Canada, representing $12,000,000 payable in London and $333,000,000 in New York.


This summary takes no account of provincial and municipal debts, which together total a figure hardly less than that of the public debt of the Dominion.


For statistics regarding the public debt of Canada , national, provincial, and municipal, since Confederation, see the Canada Year Book. See also D. C. MacGregor, Statistics of public debt in Canada (Contributions to Canadian Economics, 1934).

Public Debt of the Province of Quebec, 1929-1939

Public Debt of the various Canadian Provinces, 2004

Source: W. Stewart WALLACE, ed., "Public Debt", in The Encyclopedia of Canada, Vol. II, Toronto, University Associates of Canada, 1948, 411p., p. 190.

© 2005 Claude Bélanger, Marianopolis College