Withdrawn Canadian banknotes

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Banknotes that are no longer in issue in Canada, and are being actively removed from circulation, are said to be withdrawn from circulation. Notes that have been withdrawn from circulation include:

  • notes issued by colonial governments, prior to each province or dominion entering confederation.
  • notes issued by the Dominion of Canada between 1870 and 1935, which were issued in denominations of 25¢, $1, $2, $4, $5, $50, $100, $500, and $1,000
  • notes issued by chartered banks (pre-confederation to 1944)
  • older series issued by the Bank of Canada (1935–present), including some denominations that have been retired permanently ($1, $2, $25, $500, and $1,000).

Only five different banknotes are currently issued ($5, $10, $20, $50 and $100). Smaller denominations have been replaced by coins, and larger ones are felt to be no longer required in an era of electronic transmission of most large transactions. Although currency withdrawn from circulation remains legal tender, it is disposed of by the Bank of Canada when returned to them. Withdrawn currency is usually exchanged at commercial bank branches, though some banks require that exchangers be bank customers, and then the bank presents the withdrawn currency to the Bank of Canada together with worn-out currency in the normal course of business.

As of December 31, 2010, the total value of provincial, dominion, chartered bank, and discontinued Bank of Canada denominations still outstanding is more than $1.4 billion, with more than $1 billion of that amount in $1,000 notes.[1] A liability for this amount remains on the Bank of Canada's books up to the present day.

Despite competition from some more valuable foreign notes (most notably, the 500 euro banknote) and the clear gains in efficiency that would result, there are no plans to re-issue Canadian banknotes above $100. The widespread use of electronic means to conduct large scale cash transactions today has made large-scale physical cash transactions scarce and therefore, at least from the government's point of view, unnecessary for the conduct of legitimate business.

Below is a list of denominations that have been permanently retired from circulation.


In 1882, the Dominion of Canada began issuing $4 notes. The last was issued in 1902, and withdrawal began in 1912 when they were replaced with $5 notes. The note in 1900 was to depict a ship going through the Canadian Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, but after printing it was revealed that the American Locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan were the locks depicted on the note. All notes bearing the American locks were to be returned and subsequently destroyed.


In 1935, the Bank of Canada commemorated the silver jubilee of King George V with a special $25 note. As with other notes of the period, a version in each language was printed. This was a limited release that was never printed in large quantities.

The note was coloured an appropriate royal purple; both the King and his consort Queen Mary were featured, with Windsor Castle appearing on the back.


In its first banknote issue in 1935, the Bank of Canada printed a $500 note. As with the $1000 note, the $500 note had two versions: one in English, one in French. No note of this denomination has been printed since.

The note was coloured sepia, or burnt sienna; the front featured Sir John A. Macdonald, and the back depicted a fertility allegory.

There had been two previous printings of the $500 note by the Dominion of Canada, one in 1925 featuring King George V, and one in 1911 picturing Queen Mary. Of the latter, only three are known to still exist, one of which sold for US$322,000 in a Heritage auction in October 2008.[2] It is unlikely that further 1911 notes survived the Depression.


Printing of the $1 note ceased in 1989 after the release of the loonie (in 1987) had been implemented. These notes are virtually never seen in circulation today. However, like other withdrawn dollar bills, they are still legal tender.

The most recent banknote series that included the $1 note was the 1969-1979 Series, "Scenes of Canada", with the $1 note released in 1974, coloured green and black. The front featured a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II; the back featured an image of Parliament Hill from across the Ottawa River, with log driving activities taking place on the water.


Printing of the $2 note ceased on February 18, 1996, with the release of the toonie, a coin that replaced it. These notes are virtually never seen in general circulation today, although there are many still being collected or otherwise held on to. They are also still legal tender, since there are around 109,271,483 notes that have not been returned to the Bank of Canada (as of 2006), which is more than the total number of $10 notes in circulation.[3]

The most recent banknote series that included the two-dollar note was released in 1986 (the "Birds of Canada" series), in which the two was a terra cotta colour. The front featured a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II; the back featured a meadow scene with two robins. The $2 note from the "Birds of Canada" series (1986) was widely circulated, especially after the $1 note was withdrawn. The note is also noted for being frequently used as the sole visible currency in the TV show The Kids in the Hall, generally to humorous effect.


Printing of the $1,000 note ceased in 2000. The denomination was withdrawn on the advice of the Solicitor General and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), as it was often used for money laundering and organized crime.[4] The Bank of Canada has requested that financial institutions return $1,000 notes for destruction.[5] The colour was pink. At the time that the denomination ceased to be issued there were 2,827,702 notes in circulation; over ten years later, in November 2012, there were still 946,043 unaccounted for.[6] The obverse contained a portrait of Elizabeth II, while the reverse had two pine grosbeaks sitting on a branch in the winter.[6]


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