OTD: Canadian Bank Note Company prints final dollar bills

On today’s date in 1989, the Canadian Bank Note Co. (CBN) printed Canada’s last $1 banknotes, which were from the Scenes of Canada series, the fourth banknote series issued by the Bank of Canada.

The Scenes of Canada $1 bill was first issued on June 4, 1974 and circulated until June 30, 1989, when it was withdrawn. Banks were asked to stop circulating the banknotes, and all remaining dollar bills were to be sent to the Bank of Canada for destruction. These notes are very rarely seen in circulation today; however, like all notes issued by the Bank of Canada since 1935, they retain legal-tender status as well as their full value.

A Feb. 27 proposal saw the federal government ask for the power to be able to remove legal tender status from five long-withdrawn banknotes, including the $1, $2, $25, $500 and $1,000 denominations, all of which are no longer being produced. Each of these notes would be officially removed from circulation if the government’s initiative, which is supported by the Bank of Canada, is approved by Parliament.

According to the Bank of Canada, many other countries have been removing legal tender status from old banknotes “for years.” More than 20 central banks, including the Bank of England; Sweden’s Sveriges Riksbank; the Swiss National Bank; the Reserve Bank of New Zealand; and the European Central Bank, have the power to remove legal tender status.

Henry Nienhuis, president of the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association, said because the government is indicating the notes will be redeemable at the Bank of
Canada for an undisclosed amount of time, the impact to the general public should be “minimal.”

“Even though they’re removing legal tender status, which is a first for Canada – and any first is going to cause some concern among collectors and the general public base – other countries do it on a pretty regular basis, it seems. As far as my understanding goes, they also leave the notes to be redeemable at the Bank of England for an undetermined amount of time,” he said. “In the same way that certain Charter banknotes today are redeemable at the Bank of Canada, I
would expect that well into the future the current notes that are becoming non-legal tender will be redeemable at the Bank of Canada.”


The obverse of the Scenes of Canada $1 banknote features a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, and the reverse depicts an image of Parliament Hill from across the Ottawa River. The reverse, which shows a tugboat in the midst of a broken log boom on the Ottawa River, was engraved by C. Gordon Yorke based on a 1963 photograph taken by Malak Karsh, brother of fellow photographer Yousuf Karsh.

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