The Canada 150 bank note is issued!
The public reveal of our new Canada 150 bank note design (we call it the C150), with its various ceremonies and crowd of dignitaries, was a pretty big deal (see the blog). The media event surrounding the same note’s release into circulation, (or “issue” as we like to call it) was, by contrast, a much quieter affair. Such things usually are. (No astronauts were involved—see the issue of the Polymer $5)
In a modern twist, Governor Stephen S. Poloz took a “selfie” while holding a C150 note before meeting up with the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor for the main photo‑op. Petitpas Taylor is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance and was representing the Honourable Bill Morneau at the event.
It was a two-part photo-op: the Governor and Petitpas Taylor posed across the street from the Bank holding notes and then walked the two blocks to a gift shop on Sparks Street to place those notes into circulation. The only slight drama arose from the weather. Not only did the wind play havoc with our subjects’ hair, but clouds kept passing over the sun, making the photographers sweat a bit as they coped with the constantly changing light. But Governor Poloz and Petitpas Taylor nevertheless braved the gusts, posing cheerfully with their new C150 bank notes.
There then followed the curious spectacle of a gaggle of media hurriedly lugging all their gear down Sparks Street and cramming themselves around the cash desk of a nearby gift shop. Mr. Poloz strolled in and bought some maple candy and Ms. Petitpas Taylor chose some soap. Both paid with crispy, new C150 notes, of course. When the dignitaries left, cameras crowded around the sales desk, while their owners made the clerk (who was a good sport about it) repeatedly take the bill out of the register and put it back again.
In my last blog about this note, I spoke about the portraits. Now, as promised, I’ll chat about the more than a dozen other visual elements on the back and front. From the public consultations that informed the design, it was clear that Canadians’ identification with the landscape remains very strong. Back in 1954, the Bank’s Canadian Landscape series of notes promoted Canadian identity through its regional landscapes, featuring big vignettes that beautifully captured a broad snapshot of our vast country. Mind you, the designers had eight notes to work with.
The C150 design team didn’t have the luxury of such a vast canvas and was challenged to represent Canada’s wildly diverse regions on the back of just one note. The resulting note’s five gorgeous landscapes manage to elegantly showcase almost all geological regions of Canada. We’re just that much more efficient these days.
Apparently not satisfied with the four portraits on the front and five landscapes on the back of the bill, the C150 team included another ten visual elements to further represent Canada’s culture, history and land—and further frustrate counterfeiters, of course. These elements are applied via a number of security printing methods employed by the Canadian Bank Note Company. Vignettes such as the arrow sash patterns at the top and bottom or the Hall of Honour are lithographic prints, while the features such as those in and around the large transparent window are printed using metallic, colour-shifting inks. These inks change colour when you tilt the bill and make the maple leaves at the bottom of the window appear to be three dimensional. Good old-fashioned intaglio printing originating from steel engravings was used for the portraits and landscapes, recognizable by lightly brushing your fingertips across their raised surfaces.
In fact, so rich in detail is this note that you really ought to see it up close on the Bank of Canada’s website. There you’ll find a beautiful, fun and fascinating webpage with an interactive note you can flip over and inspect. You will also find background information on all the imagery along with a couple of really slick videos.
Better still, pick up a C150 note for yourself at your friendly, neighbourhood financial institution. If, like some of us, you are planning to keep the note, get two so you can spend one. It is money, after all, and it won’t commemorate anything while stored in your sock drawer.
On 7 November, the Bank of Canada released the new five and ten dollar bills into circulation. I won’t say ‘released onto an unsuspecting public’ as the official introduction to the new bills took place last April in a big event in front of the former Museum featuring a live presentation by Chris Hadfield beamed from the International Space Station.
Twice this past July, members of the museum planning team took the train to Montréal to have a look at some of the excellent museums there.
In one of my favourite cinematic moments, the 11 year-old chess prodigy, Josh Waitzkin, imagines sweeping the pieces off a chess board in order to help him think more clearly about an important game of chess. It is a championship game and he is on the brink of winning it all.
For the first time since they went into their cases in 1980, over 2000 coins, notes, beads and shells are coming back out. The Museum’s curatorial staff are busily pulling panels from cases, placing coins into specially prepared drawers and sliding notes into acid-free Mylar envelopes.
The doors were barely closed following Big Top Farewell event before Chief Curator Paul Berry and his team began emptying display cases that had been sealed shut since 1980. The biggest task involved removing more than 2500 bank notes from the room we knew as Gallery 8.
Another convention of the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association (RCNA) wrapped up in July. This year the convention was held in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It was the first time in over thirty years that the RCNA Convention made a stop there.
Before the museum closed for renovations on 2 July, technicians began to remove the heavier artifacts in late May. First to go was the strong box. Built of ¼” thick welded steel plates, this trunk was used by the Bank of Upper Canada in Toronto between 1821 and 1866.
Most of us know the first part of Alexander Graham Bell’s take on opportunity: “When one door closes, another one opens…” What we often don’t recall is the second half of that quote, where he says: “…but we so often look so long and regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”
It was farewell to the Currency Museum as we know it this past Canada Day. Our annual 1 July event was circus-themed this year, featuring children’s games, clowns, balloon sculptures and ice cream.
Summertime: a time to relax and, for most of us, to travel. Years ago, advertisers used to tell us how easy it was to travel: you only needed your bikini, your toothbrush and, naturally, a good travel agency to set you up anywhere in the world. That might still be true for people but for travelling exhibitions the packing process is a bit more involved.
The Staff of the Currency Museum was saddened to learn of the passing of artist Alex Colville who died on 16 July at his home in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. He was 92. One of Canada’s most celebrated painters, Colville is not as well-known as a sculptor but if you look carefully through your pocket change you might just find an example of his work.
The roots of the Currency Museum go back to 1959 when the then Governor of the Bank of Canada, James Coyne, proposed the idea of establishing a currency collection that would reflect the colourful monetary history of Canada. By the time the go-ahead was given in 1963 by Coyne’s successor, Louis Rasminsky, the collection’s mandate had been expanded to include world monetary history, banking and production artifacts and a numismatic library.
We are very excited about this, our museum’s new digital dimension. As the doors close on 2 July for the next three years or so, we are endeavoring to keep them virtually open with a lively flow of reports and updates on the progress of our re-invention.