How to Identify Canadian Paper Money


The Canadian dollar is the official currency of Canada. Dollar paper notes from Canada were issued in different periods starting in the 1800's when the government and chartered banks printed paper currency. Today, the Bank of Canada has control over the printing of the currency since 1935. Use these ideas to help you identify old and new Canadian paper notes.

  • Identify the date of Canadian paper notes and look for unique features.

    Late 19th Century - Early 20th Century

    In 1871 to 1935 the government issued Dominion of Canada notes. These notes have the words "Dominion Bank of Canada" printed in the front side. Before these notes, municipalities and banks printed heir own currency with their names written on it. In 1935 the Bank of Canada started to issue the first bank notes written in English or French. One side of the note was designed with a portrait of a royal family member or a prime minister on the left side. These notes were denominated in: $1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 25, 50, 100, 500 and 1000. The 1937 Canadian paper currency has the portrait of King George VI printed in the center of the notes. Only the $100 and 1000 notes kept some of the prime minister portraits. The denominations were the same as in 1935, except that the $25 and the $500 were not re-printed.

    Middle 20th Century - Present

    In 1954 the Bank of Canada issued paper currency with Queen Elizabeth II in the portrait of all denominations. The portrait is on the right hand side of the notes. From 1969 to 1979 the Bank of Canada issued notes with multiple colors. In addition to the Queen portrait, the prime minister portraits were used again. There is no $1000 note, but the rest of the denominations are used. The 1986 paper notes displays larger portraits of the queen and the prime ministers. In the 2001 to 2004 notes the portraits of the Queen and prime ministers are on the left side.

  • Look for various Canadian imagery used to identify the old paper currency and the new notes. During 1935 to 1937, agriculture, fishing, harvests imagery were used in the designs of the notes. In 1954 to 1967 notes, landscapes of Canada were used such as; the parliament and hunting scenes.

    In 1969 to 1979 notes are called the "Scenes of Canada" because of the natural scenery used. The 1986 notes are called "Birds of Canada" because of the use of native Canadian bird pictures. The notes for 2001 to 2004 are called the "Canadian Journey', they have various historical and cultural icons in the designs.

  • Measure the size of the old and new Canadian notes. Form 1935 - 1937 the note measures 6 X 2.875 inches. From 1954 to 2004 the notes are smaller and measure 6 X 2.75.

  • Search online for Canadian paper currency associations to learn more about the currency. Some of these websites have collections of the early Canadian paper notes issued in the 1800s and 1900s. Use a world paper notes catalog to look up old Canadian currency descriptions. Consider attending conventions of Canadian paper currency collectors to learn more about the notes.

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