Show me the Money: New Canadian Banknotes

By Andrew Bailey

The Bank of Canada unveiled today the start of what will become the next generation of Canadian banknotes. The former “Discovery” series has been ditched in favour of a new “Frontiers” theme. But what does this all mean to the average Joe? It’s time for him (or her) to say goodbye to the ice-skaters and aboriginal art that have adorned the notes since 2004, and hello to a whole new set of fairly forgettable illustrations and scenes depicting proud moments of Canadian history.

However, I had better not get too sarcastic: these notes really are revolutionary. Not only have the pictures changed, but the material has too. Canada has entered the hi-tech age, and its notes will from now on be made out of a special polymer that includes a clear panel allowing for all kinds of sparkly silver security ribbons and holograms. The new plastic, see-through money has been introduced to combat the ever prevalent problem of counterfeiting: 35 bank notes out of a million are fakes in Canada, something that the government (and the folks with all the large bags of cash) want to reduce further. The notes are also designed to last twice as long as their paper counterparts: good news for us all, including the trees.

The new technology has been introduced on the $100 note with the $50 to follow in March 2012, and the rest ($20, $10 and $5) to all be in circulation by the end of 2013.

The $100 note still depicts former Prime Minister Robert Borden (who we all knew was in office from 1911-1920) accompanied by the development of insulin, with the $50 now showing former wartime Prime Minister W.L. Mackenzie King (1921-1930, 1935-1948) with the Antarctic explorer CCGS/NGCC Amundsen, making its way through the ice packs of the chilly North. Point of interest: the eyes of all those depicted in the new portraits will now stare directly at you. Creepy.

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