A Brief History
Although similar charitable organizations existed since the time of the Crimean War, Canadian Patriotic Fund Associations were established in large centers throughout Canada in 1900, for the benefit of:
(a) The widows, orphans and other dependants of officers and men in the military forces of Canada, who might lose their lives in, or in connection with, the war operations in South Africa;
(b) The soldiers themselves or others (whether combatant or non-combatant) on duty in South Africa with the authority of the Government of Canada, who might be disabled by wounds, sickness, etc., and their families or dependants; and
(c) The wives, children and dependants separated at home from those serving in South Africa.
With the advent of the First World War, it was decided that the Federal Government must make permanent provision for disabled men and the widows and dependants of men killed in action or who died on active service. On August 28, 1914, the Government of Canada passed The Canadian Patriotic Fund Act, 1914 to provide assistance, in cases of need, for the wives, children and dependent relatives of officers and men who were on active service.
His Royal Highness, The Duke of Connaught, made a public appeal for support of the Canadian Patriotic Fund:
“The prompt and generous response on each occasion proves how truly Canada appreciates the duty which she owes to her sons who are fighting, for the Empire. … the Dominion is as determined as ever to … to help the families of those who are serving in the Army and in the Navy.
Fifty-five thousand families, comprising one hundred and fifty thousand individuals, are to-day dependent upon the Fund and it is estimated that $12,500,000 will be required to meet the requirements of the next twelve months. The sum is a large one, but when the circumstances are fully realized I am confident that the people of Canada will willingly contribute the amount necessary for the Fund to continue its patriotic and beneficent work.” (Sgd.) DEVONSHIRE.
The Canadian Patriotic Fund was vested by Parliament with a dual responsibility, to collect and to distribute money. However, circumstances dictated that the Fund assume a third responsibility of acting as counsellor and business agent to soldiers’ families who found themselves faced with difficulties that they were unable to meet, single handed.
While the Government of Canada continues to provide directly for a number of Canadian Forces (CF) morale and welfare programs and services using both “public” and “non-public” resources, since 1950, through the enactment of the “Non-Public Property” provisions of the National Defence Act (NDA), The Canadian Patriotic Fund dual responsibility of collecting and distributing contributions from Canadians has been delegated to the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS).
The Canadian Forces Morale & Welfare Services (CFMWS) administers all non-public property on behalf of the CDS. The Canadian Forces Central Fund (CFCF), is the non-public funds bank account. The Military Families Fund is a sub-account within the CFCF. It grows through the freely given contributions of generous Canadians, corporations and other organizations, and it is distributed to soldiers’ families in need. On behalf of the CDS, an Executive Committee of seven Canadians will govern it in accordance with its Terms of Reference.