Sunday, February 3, 2019

At The Bank Of Canada Museum

The main headquarters of the Bank of Canada stands across from the Parliamentary precinct downtown. The Bank is a government Crown corporation which formulates Canadian monetary policy, promotes the stability of the economy, and oversees the issuing of banknotes. In the background of these shots, the Confederation Block of Parliament looms in the background.

The building had a currency museum inside for years. Several years ago the building underwent some work, and one of the projects included this terrace area on the east side, with its triangular shapes. This terrace is actually the entrance for the newly reconstituted Bank of Canada Museum, a small museum which lies below street level, but one well worth visiting. 

The first thing item one sees after entering is this object alongside the staircase down (there is, of course, an elevator). This view from below shows it in full, about two metres tall. This is a Rai, once used on the Pacific island of Yap as currency. Rai are stone circles that range in size from a few centimetres to four metres, and this is the largest known outside of Yap. Obviously the big ones could not be moved when traded, so they would stay in place when changing ownership. The panel nearby indicated that these were quarried on Palau and taken by raft to Yap 500 kilometres away. These days the American dollar is the currency of use in Yap, while the Rai are occasionally used in a ceremonial way.

A temporary exhibit is going on in the museum. Last year a new version of our ten dollar bill went into circulation, a vertical bill honouring Viola Desmond, a civil rights pioneer on the one side, and a design centred on the Canadian Museum For Human Rights on the other. The exhibit details both.

This museum takes the presence of children into account, and so in this area are two tables for kids to put together a puzzle version of the bill- both sides, in fact- while their parents are looking at the panels.

Viola Desmond was the final choice for a Canadian born woman on currency, which had started with 461 unique nominees from public consultation. That list was narrowed down to twelve, then to five, before the Finance Minister selected the final choice.

The other eleven were worthy of the honour, including artists, authors, athletes, political figures, and activists, with French, English, and indigenous choices among them. Emily Carr, Gabrielle Roy, Lucy Maud Montgomery, and Therese Casgrain were some of them.

Here we see a mix of images of Viola Desmond.

The other side of the new bill is occupied by imagery that includes the Museum For Human Rights, the eagle feather (a nod towards the First Nations), and a portion of the Charter of Human Rights And Freedoms. I will be picking up with more of this tomorrow.


  1. ...a woman on your currency, how progressive!

  2. ... the woman on the pedestal !!! LOL

  3. Love your new ten dollar note, a very worthy choice, as they all would have been. Gosh I get fed up if I accumulate too much silver change, the Rai puts that into perspective 😀

  4. The new ten dollar note is great, but I think the Rai is interesting currency. Happy Sunday, enjoy your day, have a great new week ahead.

  5. Interesting post. The rai are fascinating. I love the vertical dollars! I will now dream of the vertical bills in America!

  6. Are the ten dollar bills in circulation yet? I haven't seen one.

  7. @Tom: it is!

    @Ella: and well worth it.

    @Grace: it's huge!

    @Eileen: thank you.

    @Maywyn: a few countries have done verticals, and this is the first time a Canadian one made it to circulation.

    @Beth: it is neat.

    @Red: they went into circulation in November. I have one in my pocket right now.

  8. I saw the new bill on another site a few days ago. What a wonderful tribute.

  9. How wonderful. Woman on a bill. We've been talking about it for years...wonder what's holding it up. Sure would like someone besides Jackson on our 20. Speaking of paper money, I just read about how hard Texas had it as a new republic, to deal with debts. Sam Houston made his own paper money, and various other industries would issue notes to have some way to purchase/sell things. That wasn't very efficient, and was one of the reasons Texas wanted to join the Union (just before it left it again with the Confederates.)

  10. Very interesting to have a vertical design. I don't think I've seen that anywhere in the world.

  11. Never knew there so many museums in Ottawa!

  12. Wow that sure is a large piece of currency!!

  13. That looks like an interesting museum!

  14. I like the vertical design on the new ten dollar bill and it's nice to see a woman on it.

  15. @Sharon: it is!

    @Barbara: Confederate money will be forthcoming in a coming post.

    @Fun60: the Swiss have done it.

    @Furry Gnome: this one's a neat one.

    @Happyone: very large!

    @RedPat: I certainly think so!

    @Bill: I like the design too.

    @Marie: that's true.

  16. That's a very fine way to honor a notable woman. It is very progressive and I wonder if we will ever have a woman on our currency here in the US. On the paper currency, that is. :-)

  17. Interesting, Never heard of a Raimbefore.

  18. That's a wonderful new ten dollar note.
    Since 2002 we have the Euro as a currency, and since then we've only had boring bridges on our notes.

  19. You are ahead of us in honoring a woman on currency and it was nice to see the exhibit photos and read about Viola Desmond. Also, belated Happy Birthday wishes, William, and thanks for your wishes on mine.

  20. Some countries seem to know how to do it right. Maybe we will get there eventually. We were supposed to get a new bill honoring Harriet Tubman, but I sure that won’t happen under our present administration (our current mess).

  21. Are you having a birthday? If so, I hope it's a happy one.
    This looks like an interesting little museum.

  22. Interesting to see a vertical dollar note and a great honour to women.

  23. Interesting post. I think if my currency was a big round rock, I'd only use my debit card!

  24. Interesting design of note. We have had Maria Montessori on the old Italian lira notes.

  25. Thank you for sharing Viola's story and for the photo tour. Great post.

  26. wow! lots of the 'white stuff' ~ and what a great place out of the cold and winter ~ lots of great info and pics ^_^

    Happy Day to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  27. Love reading your blog daily, William. Did you know that I once had one of my photos on display at the Currency Museum?

  28. @DJan: I've seen a Sacagawea dollar coin!

    @Janey: I think I've heard of the idea referenced in a documentary at some point.

    @Jan: the Euro doesn't seem to have quite the same character as older European currencies.

    @Beatrice: Viola was a worthy subject for the new banknote.

    @Sallie: definitely not under Cadet Bone Spurs.

    @Kay: yes, I had a birthday on the first of the month.

    @Nancy: it is a good design.

    @Linda: good thinking!

    @Italiafinlandia: I imagine the lira is missed at times.

    @Liberty Belle: it was my pleasure to do so.

    @Carol: thank you!

    @Karen: I didn't! Good for you!

  29. We had one woman on currency, but it was before 1995 (before denomination) It was Maria Sklodowska-Curie on 20000 zloty note.
    I guess only British can't complain in this matter...

    1. We've only had Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria on our currency, though for 2017 there was a woman, a politician, on a special version of the ten dollar bill with three other leaders for the 150th anniversary of the country.