CBC Digital Archives

1942: War effort spreads to butter

media clip
As the Second World War continues, butter has become a precious commodity. The shortage has even led to hoarding. In order to ensure all Canadians get their fair share, the government begins rationing butter on Dec. 21, 1942. Many welcome the move since it will put an end to "Butter Sold Out Signs" at grocery stores. Plus, the quota of half a pound of butter, per person per week, is really "quite generous" says Laura Pepper of the Dominion Department of Agriculture in this radio clip.

But for those of us who use butter very liberally, Pepper offers these helpful tips:
- buttering just one, not both, of the slices of bread when making sandwiches,
- cutting off the crusts before buttering,
- and even mixing it with hot water or milk to make the butter spread further.
• The Second World War began when Germany invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939. Britain and France declared war on Germany two days later with Canada entering the war on Sept. 10. The war ended on Aug. 15, 1945.

• CBC Radio advised Canadian homemakers on how to "make do with less" during wartime.

• The Wartime Prices and Trade Board introduced food rationing in January 1942 to ensure each Canadian received his or her share of the items in short supply. The first foods subject to rationing were sugar, tea and coffee. Butter, preserves and fat were added to the list later. Rationing of gasoline began in April 1942. Government-issued coupons were used for rationed items.

• The Wartime Prices and Trade Board initially held off on butter rationing. But when repeated appeals to curb butter consumption were ignored, a quota was imposed.

• The Wartime Prices and Trade Board also announced a small reduction in the retail price of butter from 37 cents to 35 cents a pound when the quota was imposed.

• Restaurants and hotels were ordered to serve butter only on request and no more than one pat (about 1/3 ounce) per person.

• Rationing in Canada did not cease immediately after the war; some food items were allocated for export to Europe. Rationing was gradually phased out, and the Wartime Prices and Trade Board was dissolved in 1951.

Also on December 21:
1943: The Canadian First Division launches the Battle of Ortona in Italy during WWII. Canadians capture the town after a week of heavy fighting.
1966: The Medical Care Act receives Royal assent. The Act increases Federal funding to 50 cents on the dollar to the provinces based on their health care expenditures.
2000: Toronto-born, Alfred J. Gross dies at age 82. He is considered the father of wireless communication having invented the walkie-talkie, CB Radio and Telephone pager.
Medium: Radio
Program: Food Facts and Food Fashions
Broadcast Date: Jan. 1, 1943
Speaker: Laura Pepper
Duration: 5:29

Last updated: November 14, 2012

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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