Elusive King on $50 note since 1975

It was on this date in 1948 that Mackenzie King retired as Prime Minister of Canada after 21 years of service, a British Commonwealth record for long service.

According to Wikipedia, William Lyon Mackenzie King, PC, OM, CMG (born in Kitchener December 17, 1874 – July 22, 1950), also commonly known as Mackenzie King, was the dominant Canadian political leader from the 1920s through the 1940s.

He served as the tenth Prime Minister of Canada from December 29, 1921 to June 28, 1926; from September 25, 1926 to August 7, 1930; and from October 23, 1935 to November 15, 1948. A Liberal with 22 years in office, he was the longest-serving Prime Minister in Canadian history. Trained in law and social work, he was keenly interested in the human condition (as a boy, his motto was “Help those that cannot help themselves”), and played a major role in laying the foundations of the Canadian welfare state.

According to his biographers, King lacked the typical personal attributes of great leaders, especially in comparison with Franklin D. Roosevelt of the U.S., Winston Churchill of Great Britain, Charles de Gaulle of France, or even Joey Smallwood of Newfoundland. Voters did not love him. He lacked charisma, a commanding presence or oratorical skills; he did not shine on radio or in newsreels. His best writing was academic.

Cold and tactless in human relations, he had allies but very few close personal friends; he never married and lacked a hostess whose charm could substitute for his chill. His allies were annoyed by his constant intrigues. He kept secret his beliefs in spiritualism and use of mediums to stay in contact with departed associates and particularly with his mother, and allowed his intense spirituality to distort his understanding of Adolf Hitler.

Historians conclude that King remained so long in power because he had developed wide-ranging skills that were appropriate to Canada’s needs. He was keenly sensitive to the nuances of public policy; he was a workaholic with a shrewd and penetrating intelligence and a profound understanding of how society and the economy worked.

He had a pitch-perfect ear for the Canadian temperament and mentality, and was a master of timing. A modernizing technocrat who regarded managerial mediation as essential to an industrial society, he wanted his Liberal party to represent liberal corporatism to create social harmony. King worked to bring compromise and harmony to many competing and feuding elements, using politics and government action as his instrument. He led the Liberal party for 29 years, and established Canada’s international reputation as a middle power fully committed to world order.

A survey of scholars in 1997 by Maclean’s magazine ranked King first among all Canada’s prime ministers, ahead of Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir Wilfrid Laurier. As Granatstein (2004) notes, “the scholars expressed little admiration for King the man but offered unbounded admiration for his political skills and attention to Canadian unity.”

The Canadian $50 note is one of the most common banknotes of the Canadian dollar. It is sometimes dispensed by ATMs, but not as commonly as the $20 note.

1969-50-dollar-recto-1200x400From the Frontier (2011-present) series. The current 50-dollar note is predominantly red in colour and is printed on polymer (plastic), not paper. In addition to being more durable than the cotton-based paper they replaced, the new notes are also more secure. It was introduced into circulation on March 26, 2012 and is part of the new Polymer Series (2011). The front features a portrait of William Lyon Mackenzie King. A large clear window runs vertically on the right hand side of the face of the note. There is a second metallic hologram image of King on the top of the window, and a hologram image of the Centre Block of the Canadian Parliament buildings on the bottom of the window.[1] A ribbon made of multiple number 50s weaves between the duplicate King portrait and the Centre Block. The top left corner of the note’s face has a metallic maple leaf surrounded by a transparent border. The reverse side depicts the Canadian Coast Guard Ship (CCGS) Amundsen, a research icebreaker. Because the note is plastic, the same clear windows and metallic images that are seen on the front are seen on the reverse. As well as textured printing, this design incorporates a special tactile feature similar to Braille dots for the blind indicating the denomination.

From the Canadian Journey (2004) series. It features, on the front, a portrait of William Lyon Mackenzie King, the coat of arms, and a picture of the Peace Tower of the Parliament buildings. Security features visible from the front include a hologram strip along the left side, depicting the number 50 alternated with maple leaves; a watermark of King’s portrait; and a broken-up number 50, which resolves itself when backlit. The reverse side depicts themes in Canadian human rights history, such as the Famous Five celebrating the Persons case, and a volunteer medal commemorating Thérèse Casgrain; it also has a quotation from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The reverse also has a visible security feature: an interleaved metallic strip, reading ’50 CAN’ repeatedly along its length.NEW-BILL

From the Birds of Canada (1988) series. It features, on the front, a portrait of William Lyon Mackenzie King, the coat of arms, and a picture of the Centre Block of Parliament. On the reverse side is a wilderness scene with a Snowy Owl. It also had a holographic sticker showing the amount in the top left side, which changes from gold to green when tilted. The front has a wavy background of extremely small but still clear numeral 50s. This “micro-printed” background is very hard to copy. Some of the printing is textured, and the raised ink can be felt.

 

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