Canada Savings Bonds are a popular investment option for Canadians who wish to avoid the turbulence of the stock market. Despite the name, they are not bonds in the traditional sense, but are more like a redeemable term deposit issued and guaranteed by the Canadian government.
Canada Savings Bonds are available in denominations from $100 to $10,000. Each series of bonds is issued on a particular date, and matures (ceases to earn interest) 10 years from that date. Historically, only one series was issued per year, on November 1st. This year there will be 6 series sold, on November 1st to April 1st.
Bonds may be either "Regular" or "Compound" interest - the former will pay interest to your bank account each year, while the latter will accumulate value to be paid at maturity (however the interest earned each year will count as taxable income). Interest rates vary from year to year, and are announced in advance for some number of years (this varies for each series; sometimes only the coming year's rate is published, sometimes the next 5 years' rates will be published). Published rates are a guaranteed minimum; they may be adjusted upwards based on market conditions.
Canada Savings Bonds may be redeemed at any time prior to maturity without penalty (however no interest will be paid if they are redeemed within 3 months of purchase). There is a version called "Canada Premium Bonds" (introduced in 1997) that earn a higher interest rate, but may be redeemed only once a year (on the anniversary of the date of issue, or in the following 30 days).
Canada Savings Bonds and Canada Premium Bonds may be held in RRSPs.