July 19, 2013

canadian quirk #1: monopoly money

Call me an arrogant American but I never put much thought into the money of other nations. I guess I somehow assumed everyone's money is green and features American presidents. Yes, I see how silly that sounds now.

The first time I saw Canadian money, on vacation in Montreal, I truly thought it was fake. For starters, each denomination of banknote features a different color scheme - some are blue, some are red, and, yes, some green. The images on the bills range from Queen Elizabeth II to children playing hockey. That's right - children playing hockey on money.

It's for this reason that foreigners and natives alike sometimes refer to Canadian money as "Monopoly money."

Photo: Bank of Canada
The fact that there's no $1 bill in Canada still throws me off. The Royal Canadian Mint makes $1 and $2 coins which are known as Loonies and Toonies. And yes, the loonie features a loon on one side (you can't make this stuff up). For this reason, dollar stores are sometimes referred to as loonie stores, though that's not a phrase you'll ever hear me utter. 

The concept of a dollar coin is interesting to me because we have silver dollars in America but they're not used in everyday transactions. They're so obsolete that children collect them, thinking they're somehow worth more than a dollar. These coins are widely regarded as the worst of any treat you can get on Halloween, usually given out by elderly women (who probably collected them as children) and have no real use for them. They're a perfectly acceptable form of tender, but any time someone uses one at the grocery store, they're given the once-over. I'm not saying this makes sense in any way; it's just how it is. 

While I appreciate the cartoonish uniqueness of Canadian money, I must say that I miss see George Washington's powdered wig on a $1 bill. And those commemorative state quarters that drove me insane when everyone began collecting them? I miss them like a silly, old friend that I haven't seen in years.

But, I guess for now, I'll have to be content with the silliness of beavers on nickels.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are that of an American expat living in Canada. Not every 'quirk' is relevant to every Canadian. These are merely observations and commentary based on my experiences living in 2 different countries. 

Visit our ever-expanding list of Canadian quirks here.

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