Canadian paper money has a long and storied history. Paper money was first used in the nation when 17th Century New France colonists used playing cards in place of Spanish and French coins. Supply of Old World coins was becoming hard to get and a local governor eventually signed off on making these playing card legal currency in New France. Today’s paper money tells the story of Canada’s history and showcases Canadian scenes.

Variations of the $10 Bill Before Canadians Were Put On It

The Bank of Canada used the $10 bill to create a commemorative anniversary series to celebrate Canada’s history and the nation’s 150th anniversary. Throughout our history Canadians on Canadian bank notes was actually not that common at times. Here is a short history of the Canadian $10 bill:

  • During the 1920s more Canadian banks began issues $10 notes, increasing the amount in circulation.
  • The Bank of Canada’s first issued currency in 1935, the currency featured a portrait of Princess Mary and did not include any prominent Canadian figures.
  • In 1937 the Bank of Canada issued their second series of Canadian currency. Again, the currency did not feature any Canadians, instead, it featured King George V.
  • The back of the 1954 $10 note featured a picture of Mount Burgess and Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park, British Columbia; the front of the bill showcased a portrait of the Queen.

In the 1960s Edgar Benson, the finance minister at the time decided that Canadian prime ministers would be shown on the next series of Canadian currency. This turned out to be a landmark decision and today’s currency continues the tradition. It was during this time that Prime Minister John A. MacDonald was featured on the $10 bill.

During the late 1980s, Canadian currency had internal identification features. This provided a better experience for people living with visual impairments by allowing the bills to work with an electronic banknote reader. A design featuring birds was printed on the back of all bills at the time.

The first Canadian currency to show Canadians on both sides went into circulation in 2001. The $10 note featured an image of a female Air Force officer with a quote from In Flanders Fields in the lower portion of the design.

The Bank of Canada started using polymer $10 notes in 2013 and shows a VIA Rail passenger train on the back. Canada’s most recent bills used to mark the nation’s 150th-anniversary feature James Gladstone, Agnes Macphail, George-Etienne Cartier and MacDonald.