Canada puts its robot arm on $5 bills, leads the space currency race

Americans like to tease Canadians about their colorful (and often animal-themed) money, but we think the tables might just have turned. When the Bank of Canada issues a new $5 polymer bill this November, one side will include both the Canadarm2 and Dextre manipulator robots in tribute to the nation's work on both the Space Shuttle and International Space Station. Let that sink in for a moment: a country's currency will reference space robots alongside the usual politicians. The only thing dampening the awesomeness is the irony of it all, as it's an ode to technology in a format that's being destroyed by technology. Still, we'll consider the $5 note a victory for geeks everywhere when we're buying a box of Timbits.

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Bank of Canada Unveils New $5 and $10 Polymer Bank Notes

30 April 2013

Ottawa, Ontario - Canada's new and more secure $5 and $10 polymer bank notes were unveiled today at the Bank of Canada's Ottawa head office, and from aboard the International Space Station. Both of the new notes will begin circulating, at the same time, this November.
Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty, Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney and Paul G. Smith, Chairman of the Board at VIA Rail Canada, were joined via satellite by Canadian Space Agency Astronaut Chris Hadfield, Commander of the International Space Station, to unveil these final two notes in the new Polymer series.

"Canadians can be very proud of their new polymer bank notes," said Minister Flaherty. "With today's unveiling of the final two notes in the series, one can see not only the unique story that each of the five denominations tells, but the unifying theme that underlies them all - the profound courage, determination, and ingenuity of our nation and its people."

The new $5 and $10 notes will carry the same leading-edge security features as the $20, $50 and $100 polymer notes already in circulation. Featuring a sophisticated combination of transparency and holography, this is the most secure bank note series ever issued by the Bank of Canada. The Polymer series is more economical, lasting at least two and half times longer than cotton-based paper bank notes, and will be recycled in Canada.

"The Polymer series notes are at the frontier of bank note technology. The new $5 and $10 bank notes depict the frontiers of our country and our planet," Governor Carney said. "It is fitting that we are today crossing the final frontier for a world first - the unveiling of a bank note from space."

While orbiting more than 350 kilometres above Earth, Commander Hadfield gave Canadians their first look at the new $5 polymer note. It features images of Canadarm2 and Dextre - robotics innovations used to build and maintain the Space Station and that symbolize Canada's ongoing contribution to the international space program.

"I try to inspire young Canadians to aim high. This new $5 bill should do the same," Commander Hadfield said. "By giving prominence to Canadian achievements in space, this bank note reminds us that not even the sky is the limit."

The front of the $5 note features a portrait of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Prime Minister of Canada from 1896 to 1911.

VIA Rail Canada's Paul G. Smith unveiled the new $10 polymer note at the Bank of Canada. The new $10 note features a striking image of The Canadian train journeying through the Rocky Mountains, and represents the enormous feat of engineering that linked Canada's East and West by rail. A portrait of Sir John A. Macdonald, who was Prime Minister of Canada (1867-1873, 1878-1891) at the time of the railway completion, is featured on the front of the note.

"The transcontinental railway helped build modern Canada. On behalf of VIA Rail, I am delighted that this accomplishment, through the use of this iconic image, has been honoured on the new $10 bank note," Mr. Smith said. "Not only did the railway contribute to Canada's economic prosperity by moving people and goods across this vast land, but it also gave Canadians the means to seek new frontiers of their own."

Over the months leading up to the issuance of these notes in November 2013, the Bank will continue to work closely with financial institutions, manufacturers of bank-note-handling equipment and retailers to ensure a smooth transition. Businesses that use note-handling and processing equipment are encouraged to contact their suppliers about machine compatibility and plans for upgrades.

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Canada puts its robot arms on $5 bills, leads the space currency race