The Numismatic Bibliomania Society


The E-Sylum: Volume 25, Number 48, November 27, 2022, Article 26


The Bank of Canada Museum blog has a nice article about "The Day Winnipeg Was Invaded." Not really, but cool story. -Editor

  Winnipeg 'If Day' propaganda note front

Winnipeg is famous for its cold winter weather. But on the morning of February 19, 1942, Winnipeggers were not concerned about how cold it was at Portage and Main. They woke up to the wailing of air-raid sirens and a total blackout. Winnipeg was being invaded! About 3,800 German-uniformed soldiers had taken over the city.

But Germany never invaded Canada. The extent of the military threat in Canada during the Second World War was the sighting of German U-boats in the St. Lawrence River. No German soldier ever set foot on Canadian soil as part of an invading force. Yet, on that day, Winnipeggers would have begged to differ.

It was a scary scene of German occupation. Wehrmacht tanks patrolled the streets, and the Luftwaffe controlled the skies. In true blitzkrieg fashion, invasion and occupation were swift. Within a few hours, the city of Winnipeg surrendered and was renamed Himmlerstadt (Himmler City). The invaders took over local radio stations and newspapers to control information. Propaganda slogans of everything is kaput dominated the headlines. Checkpoints were set up to control movement in the city. People on the street were randomly stopped and searched. Some were arrested and imprisoned in an internment camp set up in Lower Fort Garry. Even German marks replaced Canadian dollars in circulationin the form of so-called If Day propaganda notes.

Media coverage of the event was widespread, with major Canadian and US newspapers and newsreel companies filing stories. Many readers and viewers thought it was real. But as news continued to unfold, they learned that the event was a mock invasion. The 3,800 invaders were Canadians dressed in German uniforms, all part of an elaborate scheme to demonstrate what a German invasion could look like. Government officials at all levels were aware of the plot. The National War Finance Committee, which was responsible for financing the Canadian war effort, orchestrated the mock invasion through its Winnipeg chapter. It was all to promote the sale of Victory Loan bonds.

Bonds to raise money for the war effort were initially issued in Canada during the First World War. The goal of the Dominion of Canada's government was to raise $50 million for the war effort. Canadians rose to the challenge and oversubscribed to the tune of $100 million. The excess funds were loaned to the British government to purchase supplies such as munitions and food.

The success of thisand later bond offeringsprompted the government to make bond drives a regular feature of its initiative to raise funds in the Second World War. In encouraging the sale of Victory Loan bonds, the occupation of Winnipeg was a daring, yet very effective stunt.

  Winnipeg 'If Day' propaganda note back

Although Winnipeg was never actually occupied, Winnipeggers spent a day experiencing what many Europeans had been going through every day since the outbreak of the war. The success of the If Day mock invasion was so remarkable that other North American cities conducted their own bond drives to raise funds for the war. The If Day notes even found their way to Vancouver, British Columbia, to promote the sale of Victory bonds there. The extreme measure taken by the National War Finance Committee?to simulate an invasion to scare people into buying Victory Loan bondswas rather audacious. But it certainly drove the message home to all Canadians that they should support the war effort in any way possible.

Found via News & Notes from the Society of Paper Money Collectors (Volume VIII, Number 23, November 22, 2022). -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
The If Day propaganda notes of the Second World War (

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Wayne Homren, Editor

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