Funny money

We’re all trying to get used to the new polymer currency, battling with bills that stick together, and worrying about them melting in a parked car if summer ever comes. For my part, I’ll accept the Bank of Canada’s claims that the bills last 2-1/2 times longer than the old cotton-paper series. Over time, we’ll learn if they really are difficult to counterfeit. And yes, we’ve joined some 30 other countries using polymer. I’m fine with all that.

What bothers me is that we’re stuck with portraits of people that can only be described as duds on each of the five new bills. None of the individuals has gravitas; they all look effete. If the four former prime ministers had used these drawings on their respective campaign material, none of them would have been elected.

Robert Borden on the $100 is the best of a bad lot. But even he looks like he’s holding his breath waiting for his coalition Union government to collapse during the First World War. On the $50, Mackenzie King looks a bit stunned, like’s he just heard at a seance that he’s due to die in the next few days. 

As for the Queen on the $20, this has to be the only image of Her Highness than neither makes her look lively nor like she’s reigning. Instead she seems to have been caught halted in the hallway just before entering a roomful of her subjects, allowing herself a last moment of emptiness, before she fills up again with grace and gentility.

Sir John A. Macdonald’s head is too small on the $10 bill and his eyes are glassy. I wish I could say that it was from taking the grog for which he was famous but instead he just looks like he’s about to bump into something. Sir Wilfrid Laurier on the $5 bill is the worst. His head isn’t even on straight and he seems to be peering up into the far corner. Is that a spider he sees, or does he just wish the sitting were over? He looks askance, nothing at all like the man who said the twentieth century belonged to Canada.

Anyone who agrees with me about this gallery of not-so-greats can send me their bills of any or all denominations. As part of my protest, I’ll undertake to spend them quickly without even giving the renderings about which I complain so much as a glance.

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