The Canadian loonie has continued its slide, reaching its lowest level yesterday since the summer of 2003. As of late Wednesday, the loonie stood at 70.95 cents US.

Today's plunge is being attributed to a prolonged period of low oil prices and stock market uncertainty, and a housing market that has left Toronto and Vancouver, in particular, off in their own orbits.

It's also a moment when there is a new prime minister for the first time in nearly a decade, when yet another Star Wars movie was released and when the most popular baby names in 2015 were Emma and Liam.

Here's a look at what the world looked like on four other occasions when the Canadian dollar was in the poorhouse:

1.) Feb. 4, 1986: 69.13 cents

On Nov. 15, 1976, the Canadian dollar stood at more than $1 US, but currency markets around the world were alarmed after René Lévesque's Parti Québécois took power in Quebec, and the Canadian dollar (the loonie wasn't yet introduced) began a decade-long slide until it bottomed out at 69.13 US on Feb. 4, 1986.

Prime Minister: Brian Mulroney.

Major events: The U.S. space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Jan. 28, killing seven people on board. On April 26, a reactor at Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded, sending a radioactive cloud across parts of Russia and Europe.

Popular movies: Tom Cruise starred as Maverick in Top Gun, which brought in nearly $357 million US, according to Box Office Mojo. The movie beat out another Paramount flick, Crocodile Dundee, starring Paul Hogan, for the No. 1 spot that year. But it was the Sydney Pollack-directed film, Out of Africa, that swept the Oscars, winning seven Academy awards, including best picture.

Average Toronto house price: In 1986, the average Toronto house sale price was $138,925, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board. 

Popular baby names: Michael and Jessica were the most popular baby names in the U.S., according to Baby Centre.

Fashion trends: Power dressing was the major trend that year, according to the fashion magazine Vogue. That meant "bold shoulders, cinched waists and sensible shoes" for women.

That year, Apple — the same company behind the sleek iPhone and iPad designs — released a fashion line of brightly coloured, quintessentially 80s wear.

Apple wear

In 1986, Apple released a clothing line called the Apple Collection. (rickh3255/imgur)

2.) Aug. 29, 1998: 63.11 cents

After 1986, the loonie began rising fairly steadily until 1991, then tumbled to 63.11 cents US on Aug. 29, 1998, largely due to the ongoing Asian financial crisis, which started when the Thai baht collapsed and sparked a series of lower commodity prices.

Prime Minister: Jean Chrétien.

Major events: The U.S. president at the time, Bill Clinton, admitted to an affair with Monica Lewinsky. Attacks outside U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, killed 224 people and injured about 5,000 others on Aug. 7.

Popular movies: Director Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan brought in more than $481 million US and snagged the title of highest grossing movie that year, according to Box Office Mojo. The Academy awarded best picture for 1998 to Titanic.

Average Toronto house price: In 1998, the average Toronto house sale price was $216,815, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board.

Popular baby names: Emily and Matthew were the top baby names in Canada, according to Think Baby Names.

Fashion trends: Carrie Bradshaw, Sarah Jessica Parker's character on Sex and the City, which debuted that year, brought several brands, including Manolo Blahnik shoes, into the mainstream, according to Marie Claire magazine. Britney Spears, meanwhile, set the stage for a style defined by her and subsequent pop starlets, which included belly button piercings and low-rise jeans.

Sex and the City premiere

Actresses, left to righ, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Sarah Jessica Parker and Cynthia Nixon, stars of the HBO show Sex and the City attend the Los Angeles premiere at the Directors Guild of America on June 1, 2000. (Reuters)

3.) Jan. 21, 2002: 61.79 cents

The dollar fell to its all-time low on Jan. 21, 2002, according to the Bank of Canada, hitting 61.79 cents US. (Over the next several years, the dollar climbed upwards until it reached its all-time high of $1.103 US on Nov. 7, 2007.) 

Prime Minister: Jean Chrétien.

Major events: Queen Elizabeth celebrated her golden jubilee, and her mother, the Queen Mum, died in March.

Popular movies: The screen version of Spider-Man brought in nearly $822 million US, according to Box Office Mojo. Its popularity led to two sequels. The Academy Award for best picture that year went to A Beautiful Mind starring Russell Crowe.

Average Toronto house price: In 2002, the average Toronto house sale price was $275,231, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board.

Popular baby names: Emily and Ethan were the top baby names in Canada, according to Think Baby Names.

Fashion trends: It was the era of pink velour track suits, partly thanks to Jennifer Lopez and other celebrities who were spotted wearing Juicy Couture's creations. Canadian singer Avril Lavigne's songs picked up steam and teens copied her trademark fashion, like ties over T-shirts.

Avril Lavigne

Avril Lavigne won the best new artist award at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards. (Chip East/Reuters)

4.) March 9, 2009: 76.53 cents

Against the backdrop of the 2008 financial crisis, the Canadian dollar dropped to a low of 76.53 cents US on March 9, 2009. It was a steep drop after having spent much of 2008 in the high 90s.

Prime Minister: Stephen Harper.

Major events: The global financial crisis was showing no signs of easing and the U.S. government passed a stimulus package to help the economy recover.

Pop star Michael Jackson died.

Popular movies: The James Cameron film Avatar topped the box office with sales adding up to more than $2.75 billion US, according to Box Office Mojo.

Average Toronto house price: In 2009, the average Toronto house sale price was $395,460, according to the Toronto Real Estate Board.

Popular baby names: Olivia and Ethan were the top baby names in Canada, according to Think Baby Names.

Fashion trends: Some of the worst fashion trends that year included shoes with pockets, knee-high gladiator sandals, and leggings as pants, according to Marie Claire.

It was also the year Canadian singer Justin Bieber became a household name and his signature Bieber hair became a thing to mock or mimic.

Justin Bieber

Singer Justin Bieber shows off his signature haircut during a portrait session in New York in 2010. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)


  • An earlier version of this story said Steven Spielberg directed Avatar. In fact, James Cameron was the film's director.
    Jan 07, 2016 7:41 AM ET