Money took on new role after tax law

“Take-home pay” took on an entirely new meaning on this day in 1917 when Parliament approved a new tax on income as a temporary measure to help pay for the war effort and post First World War recovery.

What was supposed to be a ‘temporary measure’ has become the government’s largest source of income, to this day.

Interestingly, prior to 1917, Canada was one of few countries that did not impose a tax on income.

This was part of a plan to encourage immigration to Canada, as the United Kingdom and the United States were charging income tax during this time period. According to, it was hoped that by offering vast amounts of land for new immigrants to live on and not charging income tax, Canada could encourage people from other countries to make their new homes within its borders. Prior to the introduction of the income tax, Canada relied on money from tariffs and customs to provide revenue.

For collectors, the 1917 $1 banknote was the only note to be designed during the First World War and not too surprisingly has several patriotic and military symbols. As detailed on, Princess Patricia, namesake of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, graces the centre of the note. Below, the portrait is flanked by flags and maple leaves.

Princess Patricia was the daughter of the former Governor General and his wife, the Duke and Duchess of Connaught. The issue date, March 17, 1917, commemorates the sailing of the Princess Pat’s for England.

As on all $1 Dominion notes since 1897, the back depicts the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings which incidentally burnt to the ground just one year earlier.




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