Veterans' Land Act, passed 20 July 1942, following a Canadian tradition dating from the 17th century of settling ex-soldiers on the land. In 1919 a Soldier Settlement Act had provided returned First World War veterans who wished to farm with loans to purchase land, stock and equipment. Over 25,000 took advantage of the scheme, although many had to abandon their farms between the wars because of heavy debts and adverse farming conditions. The VLA, designed to overcome some of the problems inherent in the 1919 plan, gave Second World War veterans choices. With only a small down payment, ex-servicemen could purchase land with the help of a government loan; additional funds were available for livestock and equipment. Repayment terms allowed settlers time to re-establish themselves without incurring heavy financial obligations. Veterans were also encouraged to settle small rural or suburban holdings as part-time farmers or to substitute commercial fishing for full-time farming. In 1950 the VLA began to provide loans to veterans who wished to construct their own homes. Under the Veterans' Land Administration, a branch of the Department of Veterans Affairs, over 140,000 ex-servicemen had sought assistance before new loans were terminated in 1977.