A Quick Thought On Foreign Currency

I’m leaving for Toronto this weekend. The last time I journeyed north across the border was with my family when I was maybe 16 or 17. Needless to say, all expenses were paid for.

Now that I’m a quasi-adult, I had to contact my bank and ask them to order some of those colorful monies I always hear so much about. Well, I biked my way over to my local bank (suburban bicycling is not as awesome as city bicycling) because the day was too beautiful to waste gas on.

I’ve never had the privilege of seeing Canadian currency up close and personal. Let me just tell you, I was not disappointed. Each bill was shiny and tinted a different color–I was immensely pleased and amused.

Their money is hilarious. It’s awesome.

The stereotypes about Canadians liking their hockey? I think it’s just a fact. They have hockey players printed on their five dollar bills. Along with, get this, a poem–about hockey!

On closer inspection, I realized nearly all their money has a poem printed nearly illegibly–it’s so small–in both English and French.

Let me share:

$5 (CAD): “The winters of my childhood were
long, long seasons. We lived in
three places — the school, the church
and the skating-rink — but our real life
was on the skating-rink.” — Roch Carrier

$10 (CAD): “In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below” — John McCrae 1872-1918

$20 (CAD): “Could we ever know
each other in the slightest
without the arts?” — Gabrielle Roy (1909-1983)

Not a joke.

The $50 (CAD) doesn’t have any poem though. And I’m wondering if it’s because only rich people really carry around fifty dollar bills in their wallets. The rest of us peasant folk only have the luxury of a $20 at most. And maybe that’s why they have poems–to force culture on our savage minds. Ah, us simple folk.

It’s a good tactic, Canada. I like it. (This probably isn’t the real reason why there are poems on the bills, but it’s as good a guess as any I think–I did no research on this. This is all from my simple brain).

Cheers! Or . . . Au revoir!


6 thoughts on “A Quick Thought On Foreign Currency

  1. As a Canadian, I accept your enthusiastic praise for our colourful currency; it makes identifying bills much easier than those green camouflage bills Americans use. You will be blown away when you get here, and get a new poly-bill which are like plastic and have clear panels in them. They’re cool, but they don’t fold well for the wallet. Don’t put one in a 500 degree oven either (just in case you’re in the habit of cooking the books). Personally, I am particularly fond of the twonie.

    FWIW the lines on the $10 are from a poem- written by a WW1 Canadian doctor on the battlefield. We buy poppies each Nov 11 to support our veterans because of this poem. The others are not poems. On the $5 it is a line from a short story by Canada’s National librarian, Quebecois author Roch Carrier. His story in English is called The Hockey Sweater and sums up the national obsession with hockey, and the mortification of anyone else in the country forced to wear a Toronto Maple Leaf jersey. On the $20 is a line from French Canadian author Gabrielle Roy from her novel titled (in English) The Hidden Mountain about the value of the arts at least in 1960s when the government still provided funding for the arts. You can be sure our current Conservative government will be removing this quote, shortly, to fit with their policies

    Enjoy your holiday! I’ve never been to Toronto, but friends there are stifling in humidity. Be prepared. (We don’t have that problem here in the West).

    • It’s true! I like all the colors–it’s very pleasing to my eyes, like candy in my wallet. And all that literature! (Even if they aren’t all poems). I kind of liked my own interpretation, but I’m glad someone did the grunt work for me so now I know the real stories behind this Canadian money. Also, what is with the trolls on the $20?

  2. Multicolours on anything instantly makes the thing itself a million times better. Plus I have to admit I felt a tiny twinge of love for the Flander’s Fields reference… must be something tugging at my brain from the old school days.

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