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.