Letter from A.S. Biffi (Seves), to wife, November 24, 1940, Petawawa, ON
Letter from A.S. Biffi (Seves), to wife (addressed as Ferde), November 24, 1940, sent from Petawawa Internment Camp. This typewritten letter is a copy of the original and appears in the internee's Custodian of Enemy Property file. When letters were sent in another language (French, Italian), we often find these English copies in the file, sometimes with the original (if addressed to government authorities). We know all internee correspondence was vetted and censored by government authotiries, as this action indicates.
The contents of the letter refer to the situation whereby families of internees often did not have access to the husband's assets and bank accounts. Instead, the Custodian of Enemy Property (CEP), a branch of the Canadian government, oversaw the administration of assets belonging to internees and other enemy aliens. This government office served a dual function. Acting as a trustee for the internee/enemy alien, the office and its agents also protected the interests of the creditors. The CEP would pay off an internee’s debts by selling his or her property or businesses. It also collected money owed to internees by others. As a result, families often had to negotiate with the CEP for stipends for daily subsistence or use of assets like an automobile. In some cases, where assets were lacking, the CEP divested itself of any interest and left the families to fend for themselves.