The Bank of Canada called out some star power for the launch of the final two notes in Canada’s first polymer bank-note series; astronaut Chris Hadfield joined Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney, and Via Rail chairman Paul Smith for an event connecting Ottawa and the International Space Station. Hadfield, currently commander of the station, participated by unveiling the new $5 note from 350 kilometres above the Earth.
The setting was appropriate, since the note features images of Canadarm2 and Dextre, Canadian robotic innovations used to build and maintain the station. “I try to inspire young Canadians to aim high,” Hadfield said. “This new $5 bill should do the same. By giving prominence to Canadian achievements in space, this banknote reminds us that not even the sky is the limit.” The front of the note features a portrait of Wilfred Laurier, prime minister of Canada from 1896 to 1911.
Smith unveiled the $10 note, which features an image of The Canadian journeying through the Rocky Mountains, symbolic of the rail line that linked Canada. The face shows a portrait of John A. Macdonald, prime minister of Canada from 1867 to 1873 and from 1878 to 1891. It was during his time in office that the trans-Canada railway was completed. The polymer notes, which the Bank of Canada says last at least 2.5 times longer than their paper equivalents, will be recycled rather than destroyed when they are due for replacement.
Both notes have the signatures of Tiff Macklem and Carney. How long the signatures will remain, and how many notes will be produced will be of interest to note collectors since Carney is expected to leave the Bank of Canada in early June to take his new role as governor of the Bank of England. On May 2, just days after the notes were launched, Flaherty announced that the new governor would not be Macklem, as many had expected, but would be Stephen Poloz, head of Export Development Canada. Poloz studied at Queen’s University and later received a master’s degree and PhD in economics from the University of Western Ontario. He had previously worked for the Bank of Canada from 1981 to 1995.