Know your Canadian currency

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Do you know your loonies from your toonies?

Although you will probably use your debit cards or credit cards more, knowing your Canadian coins and bills is basic knowledge you can’t do without.

Canadian coins

Did you know that all Canadian coins are made in Manitoba? The Royal Canadian Mint produces over one billion circulation coins every year at their plant in Winnipeg. It also makes coins for central banks, monetary authorities and other mints all over the world.

Canadian coins

From left: Toonie $2, Loonie $1, Quarter 25¢, Dime 10¢, Nickel 5¢, Penny 1¢

If you look at a coin, you will notice that on one face is the monarch’s effigy, which is a permanent fixture. On the reverse side are designs usually featuring Canadian wildlife. This side has changed through the years reflecting the shifts in Canada’s diverse culture (the history of Canada’s coins, Royal Canadian Mint).

The one dollar is known as a “loonie” because of the image of the common loon on one side. The two dollar coin is of course known as a “toonie” (as it is equivalent to two loonies). Other coins in current circulation include the 5¢ (nickel), 10¢ (dime), 25 ¢ (quarter), 50¢ (50¢ piece – limited circulation), and the 1¢ (penny) which ceased to be distributed in 2013. The penny is being phased out but is still considered legal tender.

Canadian bills

Canada has five bills or banknotes that are produced by the Bank of Canada. The denominations are five (blue), ten (purple), 20 (green), 50 (red) and 100 (brown) dollars. In November 2018, a new $10 bill was launched into circulation featuring Viola Desmond. You can see the new bill here.

Images shown with permission from the Bank of Canada

Canada’s newest batch of bank notes are made out of polymer, a material that is much more durable than cotton paper. This is good for the environment as the bills last longer and can even be recycled. The new polymer notes are hard to counterfeit as well because of the “detailed metallic imagery carried in the transparent area of the notes” (Bank of Canada, benefits of polymer). The bills’ design also features various Canadian achievements at home, around the world, and in space.

Canadian money is generally called Canadian Dollars (symbol: CAD). You will usually see it abbreviated as CAD, C$ (to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies) or CDN. The Canadian Dollar is considered to be one of the most traded and accepted currencies in the world because of the country’s stable economy.

Article updated April 29, 2021.

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Community Resources

Know more about Canada’s monetary policy at the Bank of Canada site.

The Government of Manitoba has a Financial Literacy Resource page for new immigrants that has links to consumer education information.

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Know your Canadian currency

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