Ten odd things about the new $20

What? No War of 1812 reference? Scott Feschuk on the new bill

Photo illustration by Taylor Shute

Canada’s new $20 bill has been in the news for an alleged foliage error. But that’s not the only mistake or curiosity on our new currency. Let’s take a closer look.

1. This is the signature of Tiff Macklem, who purports to be deputy governor of the Bank of Canada—but whose name clearly indicates that he is, in fact, a baseball player from 1953. Oops.

2. Our new bank notes are made not from paper but from “a polymer material” that feels like plastic, which raises the important question: Now who’s living in the future, George Jetson? The polymer was chosen by the Bank of Canada to a) stymie counterfeiters and b) give Canadians something new to complain about. Mission accomplished on both fronts! The newspaper in Cobourg, Ont., recently ran a story in which local woman Vickie Skinner described the new bills as “absolutely terrible” and local woman Michelle Scott lamented: “Why don’t they just leave our money alone?” A third local woman said of the bills, presumably while narrowing her eyes: “They look like fake money to me.”

Turns out this is a common complaint. A lot of people seem to think the new bills feel “fake”—and to those people I say: YOU ARE 100 PER CENT CORRECT. All the 20s, 50s and 100s currently in your possession are, indeed, complete phonies. Here, let me personally remove them from your sight. (For the record, some Canadians also claim the new bank notes have melted when left next to a heater or when the rent is due and a new excuse is needed.)

3. Check out all this wasted space. Plenty of room to fit in an ad for Mountain Dew.

4. A critical gaffe in the design process resulted in this bill somehow being printed without a single depiction of, or reference to, the War of 1812. In future editions, the Queen will be rendered as having dysentery.

5. Some experts insist the maple leaf shown here is from a Norway maple, an invasive species in Canada—and not from the sugar maple we all know, love and ruthlessly exploit to market beer (Molson Canadian) and futility (Toronto Maple Leafs). For the record, the scientist who made the accusation was described in one news report as “a hawk-eyed Canadian botanist,” which pretty much makes him sound like a member of the Avengers.

Botanist: Fellow superheroes—I’ve cornered a villainous species of spruce that if left to roam free will crowd out all rival tree life in this forest at some point in the next 200 years!

Hulk: Hulk! SMASH! Eventually!

For its part, the Bank of Canada insists there’s been no mistake: the leaf in question has simply been “stylized” so as not to represent a specific type of maple. (It refers to the image as a “frosted maple leaf,” which is a coincidence because that’s my favourite cereal.) This whole “stylized” explanation totally makes sense because the wacky, fun-loving people at the Bank of Canada are renowned for being creative and “stylizing” things left and right. Wait until you see the new $5 bill, featuring Wilfrid Laurier in a backwards baseball cap.

6. Technically this is not an error—but man, the Queen is really rubbing our faces in it with all those pearls, isn’t she?

7. Unique feature: if you put your ear to the Peace Tower and listen very closely, you can hear John Baird yelling at you to clean your ear.

8. There is a major mistake in this “metallic portrait.” Take a close look: As you can clearly see, it is our reigning queen—Elizabeth II—whose spectre-like image is creepily featured within the bill’s holographic foil. But anyone with even a passing knowledge of the monarchy knows that Victoria, who died in 1901, is Canada’s official Ghost Queen. Get your facts straight, Bank of Canada! You don’t want to make the same kind of error when you get around to honouring Canada’s zombie prime ministers.

9. The Bank of Canada emphasizes that the new polymer bills “weigh less than paper notes”—because, yeah, that was a big complaint about paper money: SO, SO HEAVY. Dude, I’d love to chip in for dinner but I just threw out my back paying for some chinos.

10. Keen-eyed monarchists will have noticed that this is not the Queen’s actual hairdo. It was apparently “stylized” by the Bank of Canada to more closely resemble that of Princess Leia.

Follow Scott Feschuk on Twitter @scottfeschuk

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