Dollars of Canada



Dominion of

paper money
In 1870, the only denominations to enter ordinary circulation in quantity were 25 cent, 1 dollar and 2 dollar bank notes.

This year in history: Manitoba joins the Dominion of Canada, Finance Minister introduces banking guidelines.


1923 Bank Notes

The 1923 one dollar bank note was the last of the large format bills.

This year in history: The first hockey game broadcast on radio by Foster Hewitt, Drs. Frederick Banting and J.J.R. Macleod receive the Nobel Prize for the discovery of insulin.


Bank of

paper money
When the Bank of Canada opened for business on March 11, 1935, it issued its own notes in a small format, saving on both bank note paper and ink. This issue consisted of separate unilingual English and French notes.

This year in history: The Bank of Canada and the Canadian Wheat Board established, William Lyon Mackenzie King is re-elected as Prime Minister, and between 500,000 and 600,000 unemployed Canadians are on public relief.


Canada's Silver Dollars

Canada’s first silver dollar for circulation, also the first commemorative coin, marked the 25th anniversary of the accession of King George V. The reverse of the silver dollar was a modern design by sculptor Emanuel Hahn, showing a Native Canadian and a voyageur paddling a canoe by an islet on which there are two wind-swept trees. In the canoe are bundles of goods; the bundle at the right has HB, representing the Hudson’s Bay Company. The vertical lines in the background represent the northern lights.


This commemorative silver dollar marked the visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to Canada. Over 1.3 million coins were issued, and made available through the Bank of Canada and the Post Office. This mintage proved to be larger than public demand, and 158,084 pieces were returned and melted.

Only 18,780 silver dollars bearing the date of 1948 were produced. Due to King George VI’s change in titles, new obverse coinage tools were required, but would not arrive for several months. As a result, coins were produced wtih the date 1947 and a small maple leaf, until the 1948 dies arrived. This coin is very scarce due to its low mintage.


The Devil's In The Details

In the 1954 bank notes, detailed lines in the engraving of Queen Elizabeth II’s hair were thought to resemble the face of a devil, leading to notions of controversy within the government and monarchy. The famed “Devil’s Face” was eventually removed from the original engraving, and new bank notes were issued bearing a modified portrait of the monarch.


Canada's Centennial

The year 1967 marked Canada's Confederation. Bank notes and silver dollars were issued to commemorate the celebration. Over 6.7 million silver dollars bearing the flying Canada goose design were issued, while over 139 million bank notes were issued in two varieties - one with serial numbers, and the other bearing the commemorative double dates.


Nickel Dollars

The metal composition of Canada’s dollar coin changed in 1968 from silver to nickel. In order to make coining easier using the hardened metal, the diameter was reduced considerably.

This year in history: Pierre Elliott Trudeau is sworn in as prime minister, Lincoln Alexander becomes Canada’s first black MP and the legislature passes the Official Languages Act, recognizing both English and French as official languages of Canada


The End of the $1 Note

1973 was the last year for the one dollar bank note. The Government of Canada had decided to introduce a $1 coin for wide circulation in 1987. The distribution of this note ended after June 1989.

This year in history: Pianist Oscar Peterson is awarded the Order of Canada, Jules Léger named governor general.


The Great Canadian Loonie

The increased costs associated with the production of the one dollar bank note led to the request for a high denomination coin that would replace the paper note.

Canada’s one dollar coin was supposed to have the voyageur design found on past silver dollars. When an error in shipping the production dies to the Winnipeg mint caused them to go missing, the government wanted to avoid the risk of counterfeited coins and scraped the design. The now well-known loon design by artist Robert-Ralph Carmichael submitted in 1976 was adopted.

Canada's one-dollar circulation coins are manufactured with a Multi-Ply Plated Steel technology which covers a steel core with alternating layers of metals such as copper, nickel and brass. The resulting coins are more economical to produce, durable and secure. While the new one-dollar circulation coin maintains the traditional "Loon" design, there is one visible change - a single laser mark of a maple leaf positioned within a circle on the coin's reverse . This laser mark is produced during the striking of the coins using a contrasting pattern micro-engraved on the coin die itself.

What could you buy with $1?


1 bushel of wheat


10 pounds of pork


4 pounds of butter


5 pounds of beef


2 movie tickets


6 pints of ice cream


1 pound of bacon


4 litres of gasoline


284ml can of soup


1 chocolate bar