Thousands belonging to groups lie unclaimed in bank registry

Steve Bartlett
Published on February 4, 2012

The SFA 6 Inshore Harvesters Fund has $45,112.64 in a bank account that hasn't been accessed this century.

The $2,748.96 belonging to "St. John's Parents Right Group Inc." is in the same boat.

So is $2,608.53 owned by the "NFLD Prohibition Committee."

These are just three of the dozens of charities, not-for-profits, and community groups from this province with accounts in the Bank of Canada's registry of unclaimed balances.

Accounts are transferred there if they are dormant for 10 years and the bank can't reach the owner.

While the media runs stories about the registry from time to time, a Corner Brook resident living in Halifax drew The Telegram's attention to the number of associations and committees from Newfoundland and Labrador with unclaimed money in the bank.

Christopher Gilliam began searching the database for community groups after keying in his own name and finding $23 belonging to his aunt.

He uncovered tens of thousands.

"It's just a little project I had some curiosity with," he said.

Gilliam understands how groups might have money in the bank after a event or after they become inactive, but he still finds it surprising, especially with the effort most organizations put into fundraising.

The last transaction date for the SFA 6 Harvesters Fund was Jan. 14, 1999. It was transferred to the Bank of Canada on Dec. 31, 2009, from the Bank of Montreal on Water Street.

The most recent activity for the parents right group's account was Dec. 24, 1997. It moved to the unclaimed funds registry Dec. 31, 2007. The originating bank is the Royal Bank on Freshwater Road.

The NFLD Prohibition Committee's account hasn't been touched since Jan. 16, 1977. Responsibility for the funds was handed over to the Bank of Canada at the end of 1987. The account was set up at the Bank of Montreal in St. John's.

Internet searches failed to turn up a contact number or other information on either or these entities, although it appears SFA stands for shrimp fishing area six.

People involved with these groups, or with other organizations that might have unclaimed balances, can search the registry at

Individuals can search there as well.

Accounting to the Bank of Canada site, at the end of December 2010, there were approximately 1.3 million unclaimed balances worth roughly $433 million in the registry.

More than 94 per cent were under $1,000, with the oldest balance dating back to 1900.

Incidentally, a search for "Steve Bartlett" turned up no unused accounts. Twitter: @SteveBartlett_