At an official ceremony at Rideau Hall, the Bank of Canada today unveiled and issued a special commemorative $20 bank note honouring Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. As of this day, Elizabeth II’s reign exceeds that of her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, making Her Majesty the longest-reigning sovereign in Canada’s modern era.

The commemorative bank note is a variation of the existing $20 polymer bank note that already features a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. The new note is identical to the current $20 note, with one distinct difference: its large window contains a range of special design elements, including a portrait of Her Majesty wearing a crown (tiara) for the first time on a Canadian bank note. The portrait is based on a 1951 image by renowned Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh – the same photograph that inspired the portrait engraving of the Queen, without the crown, for the 1954 Canadian Landscape series of bank notes and the 1967 commemorative note celebrating Confederation. Since her accession to the throne in 1952, an image of Her Majesty has appeared on every series of Canadian bank notes.

The Bank of Canada’s Chief of Currency, Richard Wall, unveiled the commemorative note, together with the Governor General of Canada, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston.

“This is a unique milestone in the history of the monarchy in our country, and the Bank of Canada is honoured to mark the occasion in this special way. Over Her Majesty’s reign, the technology behind our bank notes has continually evolved – to the state-of-the-art polymer notes we have today. It is therefore fitting that we are commemorating this historic occasion by using one of the most advanced security features of our current notes – the large holographic window,” said Mr. Wall.

The Bank of Canada will issue 40 million commemorative notes, the first of which will start to be available at financial institutions across Canada tomorrow. They will circulate alongside the existing $20 note, which will continue to be issued and will comprise the vast majority of $20 notes in circulation.

Notes to Editors:

  • This is the third time that the Bank of Canada has issued a commemorative note. The first, issued in 1935, celebrated the Silver Jubilee of King George V; and the second, issued in 1967, marked the centennial of Confederation. The Bank has also announced that it will issue a commemorative bank note to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017.
  • Consult the Bank of Canada’s bank notes web pages.
  • Explore eight decades of portraits of Queen Elizabeth II on Canada’s bank notes through our Portraits in Time.
  • View a video on the security features of the $20 commemorative bank note.
  • Download photos from the Bank of Canada’s Flickr gallery.
  • Media B-Roll is available upon request.