Friday, January 9, 2009

Money Lingo and Facts

England has pounds, Japan has yen ... what does Canada have?

The answer is we have dollars and cents the same as the USA. However our bills and coins are different and some even have different names.

1 cent is called a penny. A Canadian penny has a maple leaf on one side and a picture of Queen Elisabeth of England on the other (as does every Canadian coin). Pennies made in 2008 or later are not fully copper, only copper coated due to the expense. (It cost over 7 cents to make a penny when I was 7 years old.) You can tell these coins easily because they stick to a magnet.

The 5 cent coin is a nickel. It has a beaver on it.

10 cents is called a dime and has a famous ship called the Bluenose printed on it.

The 25 cent coin is called a quarter. The picture on the quarter is of a Cariboo.

Here's where things get really shaken up compared to American money.

We have a $1 coin. This is called a loonie and depicts a loon on it.

Our $2 coin is our largest value coin. It is called a toonie and has a gold center depicting a polar bear and a silver ring of metal around that. If you get a toonies from 1996 you can stick it in the freezer and the gold center will pop out. Then you can put the silver ring on a chain and make a mighty fine necklace! Of course no one would do that... that would be defacing the coin and be disrespectful to the Queen! Toonies older than year 2000 are made slightly different so that the centers do not pop out as easily when frozen.

Also if you flip a toonie upside down the polar bear's feet look like penguins! Neat eh?

Canadian bills come in the denominations $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. Each bill is colour differently and has a number of anti-forgery devices utilized in the design as well as braille for the blind. The new bills are especially interesting to look at with the hologram foil and intricate pictures as well as quotes, etc incorporated into the design.

Using an old $50 or $100 bill can be tricky. Many places will not take them due to the large amount of forgeries in circulation.

Also of note are the collectors coins in circulation. Most of them are quarters but there are some in every coin denomination. Look for them in your change! Some even are painted with red poppies, etc.

There are also on occasion 50 cent coins in circulation. If you get one keep it!

***Money is not to scale in pictures.***


  1. Very interesting article. I won't see our toonies the same way now! Hehe!