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1989: The (paper) buck stops here

The Story


It's a black day when the last green $1 bills roll off the press at Ottawa's Canadian Bank Note Company on April 20, 1989. Dollar bills will soon be pulled from circulation, leaving Canadians no choice but to embrace the loonie, the new $1 coin that began circulating in 1987. For $50, sentimental Canadians can purchase an uncut sheet of 40 $1 bills as a souvenir. But as this CBC-TV news report cautions, it's pointless to hold on to a single bill in hopes that it will appreciate in value.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: April 20, 1989
Guest(s): Robert Aaron, Dennis Cudahy, Sandy MacNeil
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Deborah Lamb
Duration: 2:18

Did You know?


• Until 1934, both the government of Canada and chartered banks issued bank notes. When the Bank of Canada was formed that year, it took on sole responsibility for issuing and managing paper money.

• The first $1 bill issued by the Bank of Canada in 1935 came in both English-only and French-only versions. Otherwise they were identical, with an image of King George V on the front. Two years later, a new design was released with bilingual printing and an image of the new King George VI.

• The next series of bills came out in 1954 with Queen Elizabeth on the front. According to the Bank of Canada's bank notes website, these notes became known as the "Devil's Head" series because part of the Queen's hair resembled a demon's face. The bills were modified in 1956.

• The design on the $1 bills seen at the printer in this clip was first issued in 1974. Queen Elizabeth was on the front and the back featured Parliament Hill as seen from across a log-strewn Ottawa River.

• The $1 coin was first minted in 1987 as a cost-saving measure (coins last much longer than bills).

• As the last $1 bills were printed, the Globe and Mail said an estimated 300 million more were still in circulation in Canadians' purses, pockets and cash registers.


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