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Canada’s “second currency” celebrates Canada’s 150th birthday

by Greg Klein | June 27, 2017

Canada’s “second currency” celebrates Canada’s 150th birthday

“Deeply rooted in Canadian heritage.”


Having issued lots of commemorative coins marking this special year, the Royal Canadian Mint now faces competition from another national institution—Canadian Tire. From June 30 to July 2, customers may pick up a “redesigned, limited-edition 10-cent bill of its iconic Canadian Tire ‘money’,” the retail chain announced.

What started as a type of store coupon, and evolved into a customer loyalty program, became along the way “such an iconic part of Canadian culture that it’s considered Canada’s second currency,” the store modestly states. True, some small businesses have accepted the notes and they’ve changed hands in private transactions between regular customers, giving the scrip some measure of legitimacy.

Canada’s “second currency” celebrates Canada’s 150th birthday

Canada’s “second currency”
comes to a store near you.

In fact, the chain has put over $1 billion of its money into circulation since its debut in 1958.

Collectors take the stuff seriously too, sometimes paying almost exponentially above face value for nice, clean, crisp notes.

Reflecting either ostentation or genuine concern about counterfeiting, the new release employs unique gold foil elements and a watermark produced by the Canadian Bank Note Company.

Not quite as early or in the same manner as Bitcoin, Canadian Tire money went digital in 2014. But the “paper money is still in circulation, and this initiative is a way to celebrate the past and look to the future,” the chain adds.

Eschewing Canadian currency regulars such as the Queen, a canoe or a loon, the commemorative notes do display some nice scenery, maple leaves and that curiously cheerful-looking Scot. (He must have saved a bundle on that portrait.) Yet Canadian Tire ad writers pulled out the patriotic stops, calling the money “iconic,” “quintessentially Canadian,” a “beloved Canadian classic,” “deeply rooted in Canadian heritage.”

Canada’s “second currency” celebrates Canada’s 150th birthday

As for the Mint, it’s put commemorative coins into collectors’ editions as well as circulation. The toonie at right is described as “the world’s first coloured bimetallic coin and the first circulation coin to feature glow-in-the-dark technology.”

At Canadian Tire, meanwhile, two million 10-cent bills, roughly one for every 18 Canadians, will hit cashiers’ desks this Canada Day weekend. And if confidence in money reflects faith more than intrinsic value, Canada might be fortunate to have a backup currency.

Numismatic news: Loonie turns 30, Rio Tinto unveils precious metal/diamond coins.

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