Canadian money

canadian money

I took a friend to my bank to exchange some dollars a while back, because my bank has better exchange rates than his. He turned 354 American dollars into 345 Canadian dollars, just like that.



And what beautiful currency they have in Canada these days!



The twenty-dollar Canadian bills have a little clear plastic window in them, along with the shiny metallic strips. Some of the bills have pictures of Helen Mirren, or possibly Elizabeth II. The five-dollar bills have images of a sport – either curling or hockey, I couldn’t tell which. (My friend tells me that it’s curling, but he’s not Canadian, so how can he be sure?)



These are far more entertaining than our dull old American greenbacks. I’ve folded a one-dollar bill into thirds and made George Washington’s head into a mushroom too often; it just ain’t fun anymore. And who cares what car’s represented on the ten-dollar bill? (I always thought it was a Duesenberg, but evidently I was wrong)



Why can’t we put Walt Whitman on our money, or Mark Twain, or Edward MacDowell, or Leonard Bernstein? What about Humphrey Bogart, or Artemus Ward? We put everything in creation on our postage stamps – flowers and dragons and cartoon characters and movie stars. Why not on our money too?



Most countries celebrate their culture on their currency, not just their political history. They put their writers and musicians on the money. We don’t. I don’t think Americans like to be reminded that we have a “culture.” We’re far too macho to have “culture.” On our money, we have only Founding Fathers, Male Presidents like Wilson and Grant, and Miscellaneous Political Figures, like Alexander Hamilton and Salmon Chase.



I vote for variety, and culture, and entertainment.



If the Canadians can do it, then surely we can do it too.


About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

10 Responses to Canadian money

  1. I so agree. Your Helen Mirren comment made me smile.

  2. starproms says:

    Funny you should mention the ‘male’ choices. Over here in England, Jane Austen is about to go on one of our notes (can’t remember which one at the moment). It was going to be a man until some people complained that then it would be all men so Jane Austen won the day and I was pleased about that. Here’s the link if you care to look:

    I think your notes need an update. They are too long and thin and hard to fit into a wallet (billfold). I had a devil of a job fitting them into my purse (for money). Of course there are soooo many people in the U.S. these days that it would be hard to change anything easily but one day it will have to happen.

    and yes, the Canadian money is very pretty isn’t it. Love the snowy scene.

    • I like that Jane Austen will be on your money. This is exactly what we need: writers and scientists, mixed in with the politicians. And some women once in a while.

      American money is very dull. We keep trying to change it, but it never changes very much.

  3. Being Canadian, I can tell you that those children are playing hockey. Each bill (the paper ones anyways, not the new plastic nightmares they’re coming out with) have a famous poem excerpt on them. Sometimes our government does something right.

    • I wish we had interesting money in the USA. They’ve been doing some almost-interesting coins – the states, national parks – but the paper money is horribly dull. And no color at all but green and black!

      Thanks for clearing the hockey/curling thing up. I’ve only ever seen curling in the Beatles movie “Help!”, and on “The Simpsons,” so I was pretty cloudy on the concept. I would have known lacrosse; I had a member of the University lacrosse team working for me last summer, and he was very funny and very informative.

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