Prisoner of War mail, from Silvio Romano, addressed to Office of Custodian, March 14, 1941

This typewritten prisoner of war mail was signed by Silvio Romano, and is addressed to the Office of the Custodian, March 14, 1941.

The Custodian of Enemy Property (CEP) was a branch of the Canadian government that 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. Each accounting firm hired by the CEP would bill an internee for administrative costs even though internees did not ask for the CEP to be involved. Families of internees often did not have access to the husband's assets and bank accounts. 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.

In this case, Romano's wife had requested and been denied government relief. Romano writes asking that the money he had in a savings account be released to his wife, with a portion of the funds sent to him for use in camp -- he notes he needs to purchase soap, razor blades and tobacco. Although official government tender (paper and coins) was not permitted in camp, internees could receive money from their families which would be credited to their camp accounts. Against this account, the internee would be issued cardboard notes/chits valued at 5, 10, 25 cents and one dollar. This money could be used to purchase items from the camp canteen.