The RCNBF History
The creation of a fund, from which to make small grants and loans, was long a dream of officers and men of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Reserve Forces. The distance, which often separates serving personnel from their families, the incidence of unexpected illness and accident and the other hazards of life made it evident that some form of assistance should be available in time of emergency and distress. It was not until 1942 that long discussed plans bore fruit, and on the 23rd November of that year an Order In Council was passed which brought into being the “Royal Canadian Naval Benevolent Fund”. Prominent Naval Officers and Officials serving in Naval Service Headquarters were named Trustees and charged with the administration of funds made available through contributions from Canteens and Officers’ Messes. The original capital of the Fund was made up of an undistributed balance of Prize Money from the war of 1914-18, plus gifts from friends of the Naval Services.
Towards the end of the Second World-War the Trustees became aware that a reorganization of the Fund would be necessary to carry on after general demobilization had been effected. Application was made to the Secretary of State and on the 4th of July, 1945, a Charter under Part II of the Companies Act 1934, was granted to the “Canadian Naval Service Benevolent Trust Fund”, which included the following terms: “.. to relieve the distress and promote the wel1-being of members or ex members of the Naval Forces of Canada or their dependants and for the cost of administration of the
affairs of the Corporation”.
By Supplementary Letters Patent, dated 12 July, 1954 the name of the Organization reverted to its original title of: “The Royal Canadian Naval Benevolent Fund”.
With the unification of Canada’s Forces it became necessary to establish a new Financial Assistance Fund for those personnel of the Canadian Forces, who joined after 1 February, 1968. Due to legal and other implications it was neither practical nor desirable to unify the existing Benevolent Funds and it was agreed that these Funds would continue to provide grants or distress loan assistance to those personnel who had previous service in the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army, or the Royal Canadian Air Force.In June, 1992, the Canadian Government officials recognized the contribution of wartime merchant seamen to Canada and officially extended all veterans benefits to the survivors and their dependants. At the Annual General meeting held on 7 June, 1993 the Royal Canadian Naval Benevolent amended its By-laws to provide eligibility to all the benefits of the Fund to Merchant Navy War Veterans and their dependants. At the Annual General Meeting held on 6 June, 1994 it was approved to include grandchildren in the educational assistance program. At the Annual General Meeting held on 8 June, 1998 discussion concluded the original mandate intended to include all Naval Forces. The Annual General meeting of June, 1999 amended the mandate to include, as eligible for benefits, members of the Canadian Forces enrolled after unification, provided they served a minimum of one year with a unit of Maritime Command. At the Annual General Meeting held on 6 June, 2005 approval was granted to consider applications for financial assistance from serving naval personnel (including naval reservists who are serving with the Regular Force on a full-time basis.) However, before approaching the Fund, the applicant must exhaust all the sources of financial assistance available through the Canadian Forces. At this meeting it was also approved to replace the existing educational loan assistance program with a bursary program.