The theme of the new Polymer series $50 note is Arctic research and Canada’s northern frontier. The main image in the vignette on the back of the note is the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker CCGS Amundsen. The Amundsen is named for Arctic explorer Roald Amundsen, the first person to navigate the Northwest Passage (1903−1906). Canadian Bank Note Company art director Jorge Peral, who was the designer for the entire Polymer series, hung out of a helicopter over the Gulf of St. Lawrence to take the photograph of the Amundsen used for the vignette.

The Amundsen keeps Canada’s historic northern passages open, supports scientific missions, performs search and rescue, and supports isolated Arctic communities. It is symbolic of our stewardship of the world’s longest Arctic coastline and of our participation in environmental research. Other features in the vignette are  the word “Arctic,” shown in Inuktitut over a map of Canada’s north, and a navigation compass symbolizing exploration in the North. A smaller, colourized portrait of William Lyon Mackenzie King can be seen in the large window, as well as a multi-coloured metallic image of one of the four towers at the back of Parliament’s Centre Block.

This note was officially issued at the Canadian Coast Guard port facility in the city of Québec, on 26 March 2012, with the CCGS Amundsen docked nearby. It was nominated for the International Bank Note Society Bank Note of the Year for 2012.