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1935: The First Series

Released on the day it opened for business on 11 March, 1935, these are the first bank notes to be issued by the Bank of Canada. Their first bank note series was not actually designed by the Bank, but designed by security printers under consultation with the federal government. Two entire sets of notes were produced: one in English and one in French. They were otherwise identical.

This was not modern money - even then. Almost everything about it’s appearance was very much in a nineteenth century mode. The numbers, rosettes, the frames and some of the vignettes of industry featured on the notes were straight out of the printer’s catalogues. All the smaller denomination notes were adorned with members of the Royal Family and were the only notes to feature Royals other than the reigning monarch (an eight year old future Queen was one). Prime Ministers Laurier and MacDonald were featured on the bigger, less commonly used denominations.

At the time of issue, Canada’s public self-identity was still tied to the British Empire. Its independent spirit was not yet prevalent in its money which featured classical imagery of a style that would not have been out of place in the 19th century. This was also the only series to include a $500 and a $25 bill. The $25 bill, released two months after the main series, was a special note commemorating the Silver Jubilee of King George V and is unusual among modern Canadian notes in featuring a foreign scene (Windsor Castle) on the back.

First Series $25 Commemorative Note

This special royal purple $25 note was issued on 6 May 1935 to commemorate the silver jubilee of King George V.

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First Series $1 Note

The $1 note was printed by Canadian Bank Note Company Ltd. The front of the note features a portrait of King George V, who reigned from 1910 to 1936.

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First Series $2 Note

The $2 note features a portrait of Queen Mary, wife of King George V. She is shown in evening dress wearing a diamond tiara and necklace.

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First Series $5 Note

The front of the $5 note features a portrait of Edward, Prince of Wales, the first son of King George V and Queen Mary.

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First Series $10 Note

The front of the $10 note features a portrait of Princess Mary, only daughter of King George V and Queen Mary.

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First Series $20 Note

Printed by Canadian Bank Note Company Ltd., the $20 note features a portrait of 8-year-old Princess Elizabeth (granddaughter of King George V and later Queen Elizabeth II).

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First Series $50 Note

The 1935 $50 note, which was printed by Canadian Bank Note Company Ltd., features a portrait of Prince Albert, Duke of York, second son of King George V and Queen Mary.

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First Series $100 Note

Printed by Canadian Bank Note Company Ltd., the $100 note carries a portrait of Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, third son of King George V and Queen Mary.

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First Series $500 Note

This was the only $500 note ever issued by the Bank. Printed by Canadian Bank Note Company Ltd., it features a portrait of Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, wearing a fur-collared coat.

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First Series $1000 Note

The $1,000 note was printed by Canadian Bank Note Company Ltd. The front carries a portrait of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Canada’s seventh prime minister.

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