Canada get new “plastic” currency

Many CARP members will remember when the Royal portrait on Canadian currency switched from the King to the Queen. Not I, you say? How about when the youthful portrait of Elizabeth II was changed to her more mature image?

What about the disappearance of the lovely green and orange One and Two Dollar notes and the introduction of the “Loonie” and Toonie” coins? You were definitely around for that! (I always thought the two buck coin should be called the “Doozie” in tribute to our bilingual heritage (Deux=Two).

Early last year, the Bank of Canada approached CARP to let us know of their plans to change our paper currency to a new, high-tech polymer material that has the dual purpose of keeping the counterfeiters at bay, and improving the life expectancy of that Five-er in your wallet. Well, it seems their plan continues on schedule as the Bank of Canada has unveiled the new look of the Fifty and One-Hundred dollar bills, scheduled to start circulation this fall.

The $100 note, which is to be issued in November 2011, features images that focus on Canadian innovations in the field of medicine: from pioneering the discovery of insulin to treat diabetes, to the invention of the pacemaker and to the role Canadian researchers have played in mapping the human genetic code. Sir Robert Borden, Prime Minister of Canada between 1911 and 1920, in an updated portrait, remains on the front of the note.

The $50 note, which will be issued in March of 2012, features images of the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Amundsen in the North, reflecting Canada’s leading role in Arctic research. It also evokes the part that Canada’s northern frontier—with its vastness and splendour—has played in shaping our cultural identity. An updated portrait of William Lyon Mackenzie King, the Canadian Prime Minister between 1921 and 1930 and again from 1935 to 1948, is on the front of the note.

The notes will contain a number of unique features that expand the frontiers of bank note security and will make them difficult to counterfeit but easy to check. Most prominent are two transparent areas: the larger area extends from the top to the bottom of the note and contains complex holographic features; the other is in the shape of a maple leaf.

Starting with the $20 note in 2012, the remaining bank notes in the polymer series will be issued by the end of 2013. The themes of the other denominations will be:
$20 – The Canadian National Vimy Memorial—evokes the contributions and sacrifices of Canadians in conflicts throughout our history. (Portrait: HM Queen Elizabeth II)
$10 – The Canadian train—represents Canada’s great technical feat of linking its eastern and western frontiers by what was, at the time, the longest railway ever built. (Portrait: Sir John A. Macdonald)
$5 – Canadarm2 and Dextre—symbolize Canada’s continuing contribution to the international space program through robotics innovation. (Portrait: Sir Wilfrid Laurier)

Stay tuned for the eventual day that you’re carrying around portraits of King Charles in your wallet, and for those of us who hang around long enough, and if we remain a Constitutional Monarchy, King William… with perhaps a Trudeau or Mulroney thrown in for good measure!

For more information on the new notes, visit

Keywords: finances, polymer bills