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Canadian Currency

After immigrating to a new place, such as Canada, it is important to become familiar with the local currency and the way that financial institutions operate. Citizenship and Immigration Canada recently released a guidebook for new permanent residents called Welcome to Canada and here we will discuss the currency system for the Dominion of Canada.

Canadian currency has been designed in such a way as to be easily recognizable so that it is difficult to confuse denominations. The currency of Canada is the Canadian dollar which is internationally notated as C$, but in Canada is more often notated as just $. The dollar is then further subdivided into 100 units termed cents (¢).

Most of the coins have nicknames:

  • A 1 ¢ piece is typically called a penny, however, pennies are now defunct in Canada and no longer minted.
  • A 5 ¢ piece is called a nickel and is made of the metal nickel.
  • A 10 ¢ piece is called a dime, and although it is effectively the same size as a United States dime, the Canadian dime is magnetic.
  • A 25 ¢ piece is called a quarter because it is the equivalent of a quarter of a dollar.
  • A 1$ coin is called a loonie because it features a picture of a loon on the obverse side.
  • A 2$ coin, in a play-of-words on the 1 ¢ piece, is called the toonie. Toonies do not have a picture of a loon on the back of the coin.

Canadian bills have very distinct counter-counterfeiting features. Parts of the bills are transparent plastic and much of the surface of the bill features watermarks and holographic images. This makes it incredibly difficult to pass off fake Canadian bills.

Each denomination of Canadian bills has different colors to aid in their identification at-a-glance:

  • A five dollar bill is blue,
  • A ten dollar bill is purple,
  • A twenty dollar bill is green,
  • A fifty dollar bill is red,
  • And a one-hundred dollar bill is brown.

Each unit has a different portrait of a famous person in Canadian history or government.

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