The Complete Guide of the Canadian Dollar


The Canadian currency, also known as the Canadian dollar (CAD) and symbolized by "$", plays a vital role in Canada and the global economy. As the fifth largest reserve currency in the world, the Canadian dollar is not just a medium of exchange within the country, but also an important player on the international stage.

The Canadian dollar, like other currencies, is subdivided into 100 smaller units known as cents. Physical currency comes in a variety of denominations, both in coin and banknote form. Coins come in denominations of 5 cents (nickel), 10 cents (dime), 25 cents (quarter), 1 dollar (loonie), and 2 dollars (toonie). Banknotes are issued in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 dollars.

The Bank of Canada, the nation's central bank, is responsible for the design, production, and distribution of the country's banknotes, while the Royal Canadian Mint produces the coins. Furthermore, the Bank of Canada also implements monetary policies to maintain the integrity and value of the Canadian dollar.


The Canadian dollar, symbolized as CAD and represented by the dollar sign $, is the currency of Canada. It is subdivided into 100 cents and managed by the Bank of Canada. The history of the Canadian dollar is a story woven into the broader tapestry of Canadian history, reflecting the nation's growth, economic development, and evolving international relationships.

Colonial Currency Era (up to 1841)

Before the establishment of the Canadian dollar, the region now known as Canada used a variety of currencies. French colonists used the French livre, while British colonists used the British pound. Spanish dollars, Portuguese moidores, and Brazilian joes were also commonplace due to the international nature of trade in the era.

Establishment of a Single Currency (1841 - 1871)

In 1841, the Province of Canada adopted a new system based on the Halifax rating. The new Canadian pound was equal to four US dollars (92.88 grains gold), making one pound sterling equal to £1 4s 4d Canadian. However, in 1858, the Province of Canada abandoned the British coinage system and adopted the decimal system used in the United States. The Canadian dollar replaced the pound at a rate of 4 dollars = 1 pound or 0.25 dollars = 1 shilling.

Confederation and the Gold Standard (1871 - 1933)

With the passing of the British North America Act in 1867, the dominions of Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia united to form modern Canada. In 1871, the federal government passed the Uniform Currency Act to unify the currency across the country. Canada, following global trends, adopted the Gold Standard in 1853 and maintained it until 1933.

The Modern Era (1933 - Present)

Canada left the Gold Standard in 1933 during the Great Depression, which gave the government more flexibility to control the money supply. The Bank of Canada was established in 1934 as the central bank, taking over the role of note issuance and bringing a more coordinated approach to Canadian monetary policy.

In 1949, the Canadian dollar was pegged to the U.S. dollar at a rate of 1.1 Canadian dollars = 1 U.S. dollar. This peg lasted until 1950 when the Canadian dollar was allowed to float freely. Since then, the value of the Canadian dollar has been determined by the foreign exchange market, with the Bank of Canada intervening at times to stabilize the currency or influence its value for economic reasons.


The Canadian dollar has evolved significantly since its initial inception. Its history is marked by periods of transition and change, reflecting the broader economic and political shifts that have shaped Canada. Today, the Canadian dollar remains a significant player in the global financial system, and its history continues to unfold.

Note: This article provides an overview of the history of the Canadian dollar. For more detailed information, one should consult additional resources or experts in Canadian economic history.

Canadian Banknotes

Canadian dollar banknotes are issued by the Bank of Canada, which has been responsible for the nation's currency since its establishment in 1935. As of my last update in September 2021, Canadian banknotes are issued in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 dollars.

Here's a closer look at the design and security features of the current series of banknotes, known as the Frontier Series, which was introduced in 2011:

  1. $5 note: The front features a portrait of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the seventh Prime Minister of Canada and the first French-speaking Prime Minister. The reverse side depicts the Canadarm2 and Dextre, reflecting Canada's contribution to the International Space Station program.

  2. $10 note: The front features a portrait of Sir John A. Macdonald, the first Prime Minister of Canada. The reverse side depicts The Canadian, a transcontinental passenger train, symbolizing the country's extensive railway system.

  3. $20 note: The front features a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. The reverse side depicts the Vimy Memorial, honoring the sacrifices made by Canadians during times of war.

  4. $50 note: The front features a portrait of William Lyon Mackenzie King, the tenth Prime Minister of Canada. The reverse side highlights the CCGS Amundsen, a research icebreaker, symbolizing Canada's commitment to Arctic research and the development and sovereignty of the North.

  5. $100 note: The front features a portrait of Sir Robert Borden, the eighth Prime Minister of Canada. The reverse side showcases a medical innovation theme, with images of a researcher at a microscope and a bottle of insulin, honoring Canada's contributions to medical research and public health.

All these banknotes are printed on a polymer substrate to enhance durability and incorporate advanced security features, such as transparent windows, holography, and raised ink, to combat counterfeiting. The banknotes also have features to assist the visually impaired in identifying different denominations, including large numerals, contrasting colors, and tactile features.

In 2018, the Bank of Canada issued a new $10 note featuring Viola Desmond, a black Nova Scotian businesswoman who challenged racial segregation, marking the first time a Canadian woman appeared on a regularly circulating Bank of Canada note.

Please note that the designs, features, and denominations of banknotes can change over time as the Bank of Canada updates its currency. For the most current information, you might want to check the Bank of Canada's official website or use the browser tool for the most recent updates.

Canadian Coins

Canadian coins are produced by the Royal Canadian Mint and are used for everyday transactions across the country. The coinage in Canada is decimal-based and the basic units of currency are the dollar and the cent. The Canadian dollar is symbolized by "$" and it is subdivided into 100 cents (¢). As of my last update in September 2021, the following are the coins that are currently in circulation:

  1. Penny (1¢): The penny features two maple leaves on a twig on one side and Queen Elizabeth II on the other. However, as of 2013, the Royal Canadian Mint stopped producing new pennies due to the cost of production exceeding their monetary value. While they are no longer distributed, pennies are still accepted as legal tender.

  2. Nickel (5¢): The five-cent coin, commonly referred to as a nickel, features a beaver on one side, which is a classic symbol of Canada and its natural resources. The obverse side features a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II.

  3. Dime (10¢): The dime features the historic schooner, the Bluenose, a famous Canadian ship that was a celebrated racing ship and fishing vessel in the 1920s and 1930s. The other side features Queen Elizabeth II.

  4. Quarter (25¢): The quarter depicts a caribou, a species of reindeer that is native to North America, on one side. The other side features Queen Elizabeth II. The quarter is often used for commemorative designs, so you'll find a variety of different images on the reverse of this coin.

  5. Loonie ($1): The one-dollar coin, colloquially known as the "loonie," features a common loon, a bird which is found across Canada, on one side. The other side features Queen Elizabeth II. The name "loonie" has become so widely recognized that it is often used to refer to the Canadian dollar as a unit of currency, not just the coin.

  6. Toonie ($2): The two-dollar coin, commonly called the "toonie," features a polar bear on one side, a symbol of the Canadian North. The other side features Queen Elizabeth II. The toonie is a bi-metallic coin, meaning it is made of two different metals, with a nickel outer ring and an aluminum-bronze core.

These coins are all used in everyday transactions in Canada, and they feature unique designs that reflect the country's heritage, wildlife, and Queen Elizabeth II as Canada's head of state. Please note, designs can change, especially for commemorative coins or new editions, so for the most current information, you might want to check the Royal Canadian Mint's official website.


The Canadian economy is one of the largest in the world, characterized by its highly developed and mixed nature. Here are some key aspects:

  1. Natural Resources: Canada is rich in natural resources, which play a significant role in its economy. It's one of the world's leading exporters of minerals, such as gold, nickel, aluminum, steel, and lead. The country also possesses substantial oil reserves, particularly in Alberta's oil sands, making it one of the top oil producers globally.

  2. Manufacturing: The manufacturing sector, particularly automotive and aircraft manufacturing, is a crucial part of the Canadian economy. Ontario, in particular, is a major player in automobile manufacturing, with many large car companies having factories there.

  3. Services Sector: The services sector is the largest part of Canada's economy, employing about three quarters of Canadians and accounting for 70% of GDP. This includes everything from retail, financial services, education, health care, to professional services.

  4. Agriculture: While the agricultural sector is small compared to services and manufacturing, Canada is one of the world's largest exporters of agricultural products, including wheat, canola, and other grains.

  5. Trade: Canada has a robust trade relationship with many countries, but its most significant trading partner is the United States. They have a deeply integrated economic relationship, with significant cross-border investment and access to each other's markets under the terms of the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA), which replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 2020.

  6. Banking and Finance: Canada's banking system is highly developed and regulated, noted for its stability even during global economic crises. The Bank of Canada, the country's central bank, plays a crucial role in monetary policy, including setting interest rates and controlling the money supply.

  7. Real Estate: Real estate has also been a significant driver of the Canadian economy, with major cities like Toronto and Vancouver experiencing substantial growth in property values.

This is a broad overview, and the specifics can change as new economic data become available. For the most current information, you might want to check resources like Statistics Canada or the Bank of Canada's official website.