Monday, September 24, 2007

Canadian Currency - A Tale of Silliness

I'll write up the potential reading list for the next post - I wrote this last night while trying to wind down. Bob has created a monster with this handy dandy laptop. I can sit and blog ANYWHERE.

You've been warned.

Annnnnd, onwards!

If you visit some of us Canadian bloggers you may see terms like 'loonie' or 'toonie' when we speak. Recently Jenster wondered what exactly a toonie was. Me, being the kind of person I am decided to do a whole post on our 'funny money'.

You're welcome.

Hey! This won't be about economics so butt in the chair!


First, in the wonderful days of my youth all our money was paper except for anything under one dollar. I should tell you now I don't think I have ever seen a Canadian half dollar. So we have quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies (there was a movement there a while ago about getting rid of pennies and I just know it was a government conspiracy to somehow eek out more in taxes although I don't have much proof - just crazy Cindy logic)

So when I was a kid, if I wanted money I could ask my parents for a dollar or two and this is what I got.

Now I don't know what the Tooth Fairy does in other countries but she usually leaves coins. Thus, for a molar a child would get a quarter. We'll get to the spoiled rotten children of today in a minute.

Okay, I see you there staring at that two dollar bill like it's baloney but trust me, it's real and the red colour was delightful. That's right, our money comes in different colours and all I can say is when I have gone to the States I have wondered how you all don't get ripped off left right and center.

A picture of our colourful currency for your perusal.

Looking at the picture you might not be able to tell there is a striking difference in the colours although the blue and purple look close. Basically I know what is in my wallet with a quick flip through. I'm also aware of what I am handing to a teller. Why? Because I know I had three twenties in my wallet so when she hands me back the change for a 10 I already know we've got a problem.

In the States I'm constantly counting the money and trying to put it in an order so I know where the 20's are and where the fives are. Up here, I can reach into my pocket and with one glance see that 5 sticking out because of it's colour.

And the saying 'I would love me some green' would be better put up here as 'I would love me some brown' as that is the colour of our hundred dollar bill. And yes, I have actually seen many.

Oh and to throw a wrench in the works, there are businesses that won't take 50s or 100s so if you go to an ATM and it's low on the 20s when you need a hundred bucks, you'll get two 50s. Nothing like having money you can't spend to stress you out!

And we're off the rails!

A year ago I saw a counterfeit bill and OMG, how anyone can tell them from the real ones is beyond me. The person said you could tell by the eyes which of course has me thinking they were screwing with me. The other thing they do is scratch the money on paper to see if the ink comes off. And get this, if you go to the bank and get cash and then go to a store where they tell you the money is fake, too bad, so sad. Apparently the last one holding it is the one burned. I told Bob I would just deposit it into the ATM. Luckily Bob explained I could be arrested for passing along fake money. Rock meet hard place.

And, we believe we have found the track again folks!

So the two dollar bill was red (the currency on the left is today's currency so the red has been taken over by the 50, I would have to see if the 50 was always that colour or if it changed once the two dollar coin was released.

Meanwhile the one dollar bill was grey/green.

Hmmm, did a check on Wiki to see if I had my dates right but they have the dollar bill being called a loonie because there is a loon on the back of the dollar bill. I have no recollection of this and called it a 'buck' or dollar.

Then the Canadian Mint decided that it would be cheaper to change one dollar bills to coins. Makes sense since paper money can only remain in circulation for so long as they get ripped or washed umpteen times in people's laundry so when they get to the banks, they will take the ratty ones and take them out of circulation. Coins don't become ratty and they look really pretty after tumbling through the wash!

Thus the birth of the dollar coin.

Huh. What's that you are seeing on the back of the coin? Why that would be a loon and well quicker than they could get them in circulation the population was calling them the 'loonie'

Cause we're crazy Canucks don'cha know. We've been mocked about our term for our little dollar coin but we seem to enjoy the silliness of it and think nothing of turning to our significant other and saying 'hey, you got a loonie?'

Now, I know it was a while later but I can't really remember when but the loonie was biting the mint in the ass so they decided that a two dollar coin should be introduced (it's twelve hours after originally writing this and I have no clue what this sentence means so don't frown and add logic, you'll get a headache, just walk away). Wow. It's bad enough my wallet is heavier than ever but they want to make a two dollar coin?

Look at that beauty! I love the center design and really who doesn't love a polar bear? So you think maybe it would become called a 'bearie' (where was I when the populace decided to name it something silly!?) or 'polar' but nope, us Canadians are a laid back bunch and when it came out it was naturally called the 'toonie'

So here is a picture of our coins in full glory (again, I've never seen a half dollar so it's quite unique to see one. I'm not sure vendors would even take one as cash.

There was talk of making the five dollar bill into a coin but I think the government and mint were worried what us laid back folks would call it.



Now that would be ridiculous.

Oh and to finish up, clearly the Tooth Fairy has come into some serious money. Molars are now going for two bucks! A little girl I was talking to the other day who had recently lost a tooth was not pleased that the tooth fairy only left her with a loonie.

The great thing about having coins worth up to two bucks is that you never know how much money you have until you pop it out of your pocket. Wow! 10 bucks! I thought I had no money! Then there is my husband who doesn't use coins. He saves them and about every two months he saves up to 1000 bucks in coins.

That goes into his 'change account' which has been used to pay off many of our big purchases. Thing is I think it'd be two years before he could save enough for my new kitchen cabinets but he bought exterior doors for the house and the bill will be 5000 dollars (on a don't pay for 18 months kind of deal) and Bob already has more than that saved up.

So yeah, I love me the loonies and the toonies!

If I have gotten any of this wrong I'm trusting Kristie, Nath and Ames to straighten me out because really this is just the history of Canadian money as I remember it. Which isn't always the way things really happened.

What's funny is Canadians enjoy poking fun at ourselves and hey, it makes us seem harmless but really, how harmless is a country that houses the C-Rex?



Kristie (J) said...

LOL - I think you got it pretty well right. The good thing about the loonies and twoonies is many of us just throw them in the purse and then after a while dig through and low and behold, we have like 12 or thirteen unexpected dollars!! Enough to buy......books!! And it almost seems like they're free, cause it's found money *g*

Kat O+ said...

We have colourful money, too, but our hundred-dollar bill is green, so we do aspire to a wallet full of green money. Gosh, I remember when we had dollar bills, too. And I agree with Kristie--the spare change bucket coughs up some serious pocket money at the end of the year (unless you're Filipino, in which case you might get rid of it on New Year's Eve by throwing it in the middle of a room full of kids who will then do anything short of murder to catch the gold coins).

nath said...

LOL, great post Cindy :D I think you have it all right :) Since you're wondering, I'm pretty sure that the 50$ was always red... if you put the 2$ and 50$ bill next to each other tho, you'll see it's kind of different red...50$ is more vibrant and 2$ is more rusty. The twoonie made their apparition when I was in grade 8 if I remember correctly... so that was about 10-11 years ago... man, I'm getting old LOL :)

I definitively should do like Bob and keep me a change jar...

oh and you know what, I really hate 100$ bill!!! grrr... they don't take them anywhere, because they're afraid of it being fake. I went to Indigo yesterday and tey wouldn't take it. sigh... we're probably the only country where this happens.

C2 said...

Oh, it's so pretty (and spendable!)...our money is boring. They're trying to make it less boring but it's still boring. Of course, the US has been unable to make dollar coins work for anyone besides collectors but I blame vending machine companies - if they were willing to update their stuff, we would have been more open to using dollar coins. Gots to have the junk food, don't ya know. ;-)

Rosie said...

The most important fact is that your money is worth more than ours now! :) We save change too. I'm saving mine for RWA next July. Your Bob is in a whole different league than me though.

I don't know about the rest of the U.S. but here in California we have lots of stores and restaurants that won't take bills larger than a $20 because counterfeiting is so rampant with the larger bills.

CindyS said...

Kristie - I know! Found money so rocks!

Kat O+ - holy cow!! I was telling Bob this tonight and he just about fell out of his chair. Your kids must be rich and I don't know if I could deal with the pandamonium. Well, okay, I would be shoving the kids out of the way and yelling 'MINE!' ;)

Nath - the problem is that it is legal tender. Having someone refuse to take it should be illegal and with the scanners they have now it should be mandatory that all stores have them. I should tell the story of how I accepted a phony American Express Canadian funds thingie. Let's just say I had a funny feeling when I took it and was not surprised when I got a call from head office saying I had to go to the police to file a report. Ugh.

C2 - okay vending machines up here are crazy expensive and I totally blame the coins! Our machines accept all money, even paper (Thank God!) and it's nothing now to pay a buck 50 for a chocolate bar while waiting anywhere. Ugh.

Rosie - the thing is, I'm not sure that the strength of our dollar bill is affecting anyone up here positively. Any business that trades with the US in comodities are taking huge financial hits. I told Bob the other night that since our dollar is worth next to nothing in the British pound he should try and sell them wood. I mean, they must have de-forested by now ;) Yeah, I know. I'm full of helpful information and the eye rolling was almost painful to watch.

Thanks for indulging me in this way off the wall post. Now we just need Jenster to show up and see what a toonie is!


Kat O+ said...

Haha, I wasn't going to admit it, but I still join in the fray. Even last year when I was pregnant. My Dad yelled at me because I was wrestling my 20-year-old brother for a $2 coin. He won, but only because I was scared I'd hurt him. ;-)

Jenster said...

Wow! Thanks for that fascinating Canadian money lesson. (I really mean it. I'm not even using the sarcasm right now!)

I love the "loonie" and "toonie" - or should it be "twonie"? No, nevermind.

You guys have very pretty money. Todd and I went to Grand Cayman a few years back and their money was pretty, too. Very colorful with tropical fish and that sort of thing. Also the Queen since it's a British country.

The tooth fairy around here was only into quarters, too. Wonder if there's a different one for you guys up there.

CindyS said...

Kat O+ - we never really grow up do we. Glad you went easy on your brother ;)

Jenster - glad you made it and saw a toonie

CindyS said...

Weird, that last comment just posted itself and considering I normally have to do a weird typing thing to get stuff to post - well, weird.

Jenster - We must have sent you our 'slacker' tooth fairy ;)