Banknotes of the Canadian dollar

Banknotes of the Canadian dollar

Canadian banknotes are the banknotes of Canada, denominated in Canadian dollars (CAD). In common everyday usage, they are called bills. Currently, they are issued in five, ten, twenty, fifty, and hundred dollar denominations. All notes are issued by the Bank of Canada, which released its first series of notes in 1935.


Bills are issued by the Bank of Canada, but the actual production of the bills is outsourced to the Canadian Bank Note Company and BA International Inc (formerly the British American Banknote Company Ltd), in accordance with the specifications and requirements of the Bank of Canada. All wording on bills appears in both of Canada's official languages, English and French. Bank Notes are printed on paper composed of pure cotton.


An internal report by the Bank of Canada states that the current level of counterfeit money in Canada is now higher than its key monitoring benchmark and is higher than benchmarks used in other countries. The report said "All denominations except the $5 continued to be above our historical threshold of 120 counterfeits detected per million genuine notes in circulation," hitting a high of 470 phoney bills for every million legitimate notes circulating in 2004. []

Removal of $1, $2, and $1,000 notes

Some of the most significant recent developments in Canadian currency were the withdrawal of the $1, $2, and $1,000 notes in 1989, 1996, and 2000 respectively. The $1 and $2 denominations have been replaced with coins. See loonie and toonie. The $1,000 note was removed at the request of the Solicitor General of Canada, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, as it was reported that they were largely being used for money laundering, and organized crime.

List of bank note series

1935 Series

The Bank of Canada was created in 1934 and given responsibility, through an Act of Parliament, to regulate the country's money supply and to "promote the economic and financial welfare of Canada." Accordingly, it was given the exclusive right to issue bank notes in Canada. On 11 March 1935, the Bank of Canada issued its first series of bank notes.

1937 Series

The creation of a second series of bank notes, only two years after the first issue, was prompted by changes in Canadian government legislation requiring the Bank of Canada to produce bilingual bank notes. Another contributing factor was the death of King George V on 20 January 1936 and the subsequent abdication of Edward VIII.

1954 Series

The third series of Bank of Canada bank notes was prepared in 1952. Significant changes to the design of Canada's paper currency gave it a whole new look that set the standard for the future.

With the ascension to the throne of Queen Elizabeth II in 1952, plates were prepared for the third series of Bank of Canada notes. They were very different from the 1937 series, although the colours and bilingual nature were retained. The portrait was moved from the centre of the bank note to the right-hand side where it was less susceptible to wear caused by the folding of notes. The elaborate detail of earlier issues was simplified, and the earlier allegorical figures were replaced by Canadian landscapes. The Canadian coat of arms was first introduced in this series and formed part of the background design. This is the only series on which the portrait of the Queen appears on all denominations.

cenes of Canada Series

Because of a growing concern over counterfeiting, the Bank of Canada began to release a new series of bank notes in 1969.

This series represented another complete departure in design from earlier issues:
* colourful, wavy patterns were introduced;
* a new series of Canadian scenic vignettes was created;
* portraits of former Canadian prime ministers were re-introduced.

Birds of Canada Series

‡ Withdrawn from circulation. Currency withdrawn from circulation is still legal tender. Despite the introduction of new notes, the 1986 series $20, $50, and $100 are still occasionally used; $1,000 notes are rare.

All bills of 1954 series or later measure 152.4 mm by 69.85 mm (6 by 2¾ inches).

See also Withdrawn Canadian banknotes.


A number of myths have circulated regarding Canadian banknotes.
* "An American flag is flying over the Parliament buildings on Canadian paper money." This is not the case. The Birds series bills depict a Union Jack flying over Parliament on the $100; a Canadian Red Ensign (a former Canadian flag) on the $5, $10, and $50; and the modern maple-leaf flag was on the $2 and $1000 bills. (The $20 depicts the Library of Parliament, with no flag visible.) Those "taken" by the rumour were likely fooled by the bills with the Red Ensign, as the flags are very small and not shown in full colour, and the Ensign with its contrasting canton somewhat resembles the American flag.

* "When a bill depicts a past prime minister, the Parliament buildings behind him are flying whichever flag Canada was using at the time of his tenure." The obverse of the Birds series featured images of prime ministers (or the Queen) and the houses of Parliament. However, as noted above, the $10 note featured the Red Ensign alongside Sir John A. Macdonald, who became prime minister 25 years before the Red Ensign was approved for use on the Merchant Marine and more than 50 years before it was used on government buildings. Also, the Union Jack is on the $100 with Sir Robert Borden, who came after Laurier who appears with the Red Ensign. This is sometimes explained by the fact that Borden governed during World War I. The views of the Houses of Parliament on the current Canadian Journey series do not feature any flag.

* "The new series $10 bill is being recalled because there is a misprint in the poem In Flanders Fields." The first line as printed, "In Flanders fields the poppies blow," startled many people, who believed the last word should be "grow". John McCrae wrote two versions which were both published, but his original manuscript, the one used by the government and widely used for Remembrance Day ceremonies, reads "blow". (The last two lines are, "We shall not sleep, though poppies grow/In Flanders fields.")

ee also

*Canadian Tire money
*Where's Willy?

External links

* [ A site about Canadian currency]
* [ A site about Canadian currency in French]
* [ The Online Canadian Paper Money Museum]
* [ The "Where's Willy?" Currency Tracking Project]
* [ Bank of Canada - Bank Note Series, 1935 to present]
* [ Statistics Canada - Bank of Canada banknote liabilities]
* [ Currency Museum of the Bank of Canada at Industry Canada]

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