Last updated on June 25th, 2020 at 04:13 pm
Last Updated on June 25, 2020 Posted by Colonial Acres Coins
The first series of Canadian paper money was issued in 1935 after an act of Parliament created the Bank of Canada. Since then, there have been seven series of Canadian banknotes, each superseding the previous one. Unlike some denominations of paper money, the $5 denomination has been included in every series.
The Bank of Canada started issuing the latest series of banknotes in 2018. The $5 denomination will still be included, but it is about to go through some significant changes. Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the first francophone Prime Minister of Canada, who governed during a 15-year period over the turn of the 20th century, has been on the $5 bill for 50 years. However, following the trend that saw civil rights activist Viola Desmond replace Sir John MacDonald as the face of the $10 bill, the new $5 bill will feature another noteworthy Canadian, this one nominated by the public. Like the Viola Desmond ten, the new $5 banknote will be a polymer bill with a vertical orientation.
$5 Banknotes in Past Series
While a new face for the $5 bill is exciting, especially after so many decades, paper money in past series of banknotes has interesting features as well. Canadian banknotes typically follow a particular theme in their designs that unifies each new series.
Sir Wilfrid Laurier first appeared on the $5 banknote in 1970. This was part of the Scenes of Canada series, which featured a Vancouver Island-based fishing boat on the back. In the 1954 series immediately prior, Queen Elizabeth II appeared on all denominations. Five-dollar banknotes in this series printed prior to 1956 are particularly valuable because the engraving of Her Majesty’s hair features a pattern that resembles a leering face. These “devil’s head” notes are now highly prized by collectors.
The first series of banknotes issued by the Bank of Canada was released in 1935 and featured portraits of royal family members on the front and allegorical figures on the back. The $5 banknote in this series features an allegory representing the generation of electric power on the reverse. On the obverse, Edward, Prince of Wales is featured, who later went on to abdicate the throne. This series is also notable for having separate bills printed with English and French text. In subsequent series, all banknotes were bilingual to save on printing costs.
When a new series of paper money was issued to replace the Scenes of Canada series in 1986, designers sought a theme that was politically neutral and decided on Birds of Canada. The $5 banknote in this series features the belted kingfisher. This series was the first to include a metallic security strip to deter counterfeiters as well as features to aid the visually impaired with identification.
The $2 banknote was discontinued in 2001, making the $5 bill the smallest denomination in the new Canadian Journey series, which also includes more advanced security features to foil counterfeiters armed with photo manipulation software, scanners, and printers. A new portrait of Sir Wilfrid Laurier graced the obverse, and the reverse featured images pertaining to the theme of “Children at Play.”
The most recent series prior to the current one is the Frontier Series from 2011. This was the first to be printed on polymer rather than paper, and the obverse image pays tribute to Canada’s contributions to international space travel.
The Future $5 Bill
We do not yet know whose face will be on the new $5 bill. The Bank of Canada issued an open call for nominations to the public earlier this year, and 45,000 people responded. The names of more than 600 eligible nominees have been provided to the Advisory Council, which will narrow these down to a shortlist and gauge public opinion through focus groups and surveys while also conducting historical research on each nominee. Using this information, the Minister will ultimately make the final decision. In the meantime, view our selection of collectible $5 banknotes at Colonial Acres Coins.