What’s on Canada’s Polymer Notes?

Canada’s polymer bank notes evoke the country’s spirit of innovation. The series itself is a technical innovation, and its designs celebrate Canada’s achievements at home, around the world and in space. Reflecting the ingenuity, determination and courage of a nation and its people, Canada’s accomplishments extend well past our frontiers.

Polymer Series - $100 Note

$100 Note - Design Features
    • Portrait: Sir Robert L. Borden, Prime Minister, 1911–20
    • Building: The East Block of Parliament
    • Signatures: Left - T. Macklem, Right - M.J. Carney / Left – T. Macklem, Right – S.S. Poloz
    • Size: 152.4 x 69.85 mm (6.0 x 2.75 inches)
    • Issue Date: 14 November 2011
    • Theme: Medical Innovation

Canadians have long been at the frontiers of medical research and as a result have helped to save millions of lives worldwide. Notable Canadian contributions include pioneering the use of insulin to treat diabetes, DNA and genetic research, the invention of the pacemaker, and the first hospital-to-hospital robot-assisted surgery.

Researcher at a microscope

The image of a researcher using a microscope depicts Canada’s long-standing commitment to medical research.

DNA strand

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the genetic blueprint of life. Canadian researchers have been at the forefront of mapping our human genetic makeup in this field of medical science.


This electrocardiogram provides a visual cue to Canada’s contributions to heart health, including the invention of the pacemaker by John Hopps in 1950.


The discovery of insulin to treat diabetes was made by Canadian researchers Frederick Banting and Charles Best in 1921.

Polymer Series - $50 Note

$50 Note - Design Features
    • Portrait: William Lyon Mackenzie King, Prime Minister, 1921–30 and 1935–48
    • Building: The Centre Block of Parliament
    • Signatures: Left – T. Macklem, Right – M.J. Carney
    • Size: 152.4 x 69.85 mm (6.0 x 2.75 inches)
    • Issue date: 26 March 2012
    • Theme: CCGS Amundsen, Research Icebreaker

The vastness and splendour of Canada’s northern frontier have helped to shape our cultural identity. The icebreaker plays an important role in the North, keeping Canada’s historic passages open, undertaking marine search and rescue, supporting isolated communities, and participating in international environmental research. The CCGS Amundsen helps Canada—the nation with the world’s longest stretch of Arctic coastline—to remain at the leading edge of Arctic research, providing the world’s oceanographers, geologists and ecologists with unparalleled access to the North.

CCGS Amundsen, Research Icebreaker

The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Amundsen became a research icebreaker in 2003. It is jointly operated by ArcticNet and the Canadian Coast Guard.

“Arctic” in Inuktitut

This syllabic text is taken from Inuktitut, a language of Canada’s Inuit population. It stands for “Arctic.”

Map of Canada’s northern regions

The map on the back of this note shows Canada’s northern regions in their entirety, including Inuit regions of the Arctic. This image was provided by Natural Resources Canada.

Polymer Series - $20 Note

$20 Note - Design Features
    • Portrait: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
    • Building: The Peace Tower
    • Signatures: Left – T. Macklem, Right – M.J. Carney
    • Size: 152.4 x 69.85 mm (6.0 x 2.75 inches)
    • Issue date: 7 November 2012
    • Theme: Canadian National Vimy Memorial

The Canadian National Vimy Memorial is featured on the new $20 note as a tribute to Canada’s contributions and sacrifices in military conflicts throughout its history. Located on the site of the 1917 Battle of Vimy Ridge, the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France was erected in honour of Canadian service during the First World War.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge

In April 1917, all four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought together and successfully captured Vimy Ridge in France, after several failed attempts by other Allied forces. This victory is often described as Canada’s coming of age.

The Vimy Memorial

Located at the highest point of Vimy Ridge, the Canadian National Vimy Memorial bears the names of the 11,285 Canadian First World War servicemen with no known resting place in France. The memorial was erected on land that was granted permanently to Canada by France in 1922, in recognition of Canada’s war efforts. The following words are inscribed on the base of the monument: “To the valour of their countrymen in the Great War and in memory of their sixty thousand dead this monument is raised by the people of Canada.”

Designed by Canadian sculptor Walter Seymour Allward, the limestone monument features two pylons that stand 30 metres high. With a maple leaf carved in one and a fleur-de-lis in the other, the pylons represent the sacrifices of people from Canada and France.

There are twenty sculpted human figures on the monument. Among them is a group of allegorical figures known as "The Chorus." They represent the virtues of Peace, Justice, Hope, Charity, Faith, Honour, Truth and Knowledge. Reaching upward with a torch, Peace is the highest figure on the monument.

For more information, visit www.vimyfoundation.ca.


The presence of red poppies in battlefields and burial grounds throughout Europe during the First World War inspired the symbol of remembrance that we know today. Mourning the death of a friend, Canadian military doctor and artillery commander Major John McCrae wrote “In Flanders Fields,” the now-famous poem that reflects on the living presence of poppies in a landscape devastated by war.

Polymer Series - $10 Note

$10 Note - Design Features
    • Portrait: Sir John A. Macdonald, Prime Minister, 1867-1873 and 1878-1891
    • Building: The Library of Parliament
    • Signatures: Left - T. Macklem, Right - M.J. Carney / Left – T. Macklem, Right – S.S. Poloz
    • Size: 152.4 x 69.85 mm (6.0 x 2.75 inches)
    • Issue Date: 7 November 2013
    • Theme: The Canadian train

The expansion of the railway in the 1880s was hailed as a remarkable feat of engineering for a young country with a varied and often treacherous terrain. At the time, the railway was the longest ever built, and its completion demonstrated Canada’s pioneering spirit by linking our eastern and western frontiers, connecting people, and facilitating the exchange of goods. Today, The Canadian train, winding its way through the Rockies showcases Canada’s natural beauty and symbolizes what we accomplished as a young nation.

The Canadian train

The train featured on the $10 note symbolizes the engineering feat of linking Canada by rail. In 1871, British Columbia agreed to join Confederation on the condition that the federal government build a railway to link the new province with the East (Manitoba was the province’s closest neighbour). Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, who is also featured on this note, kept that promise. The resulting rail expansion is one of his great legacies.

At present, The Canadian train still connects us. Its route showcases the country’s geographic diversity, from Toronto, our largest city, to the Pacific coast, and allows both Canadians and visitors to experience the breadth of our country from the unique perspective of a railcar. The Canadian is represented here as a symbol for rail activity across the country playing a critical role in our economy and transporting people and goods to small and large communities alike.

The Canadian Rockies

Located in Jasper National Park, the mountains featured on the $10 note showcase the grandeur of the Canadian Rockies. On the left are the shoulder of Lectern Peak and Aquila Mountain; in the centre are Redan, Esplanade and Gargoyle mountains; and on the right is Mount Zengel, part of the Victoria Cross Ranges. Rather than feature only one mountain range, a variety was selected to highlight the diverse and majestic nature of the Rockies.

Map of Canada’s passenger railways

The map on the back of the $10 note shows VIA’s network of passenger rail routes. This image was provided by Natural Resources Canada.

For more information, visit: www.viarail.ca, www.railcan.ca, Jasper National Park and www.nrcan.gc.ca.

Polymer Series - $5 Note

$5 Note - Design Features
    • Portrait: Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Prime Minister, 1896–1911
    • Building: The West Block of Parliament
    • Signatures: Left - T. Macklem, Right - M.J. Carney / Left – T. Macklem, Right – S.S. Poloz
    • Size: 152.4 x 69.85 mm (6.0 x 2.75 inches)
    • Issue Date: 7 November 2013
    • Theme: Canadarm2 and Dextre

Robotics innovation is Canada’s ongoing contribution to the International Space Station program and demonstrates our commitment to space exploration. The Canadian-built Mobile Servicing System is the sophisticated robotics suite that helped to assemble the International Space Station in orbit. This system consists of Canadarm2, Dextre and the Mobile Base.

On board the space station - a permanent orbiting research laboratory - international partners conduct scientific experiments, many of which result in an enhanced quality of life on earth. Canada’s contribution to the space program evokes pride and sparks the imagination and curiosity of our future leaders in science and technology.


Canadarm2 is the centrepiece of Canada’s contribution to the International Space Station. The 17 metre-long robotic arm plays a major role in the assembly and maintenance of the station. It routinely makes repairs, moves equipment and supplies, captures and docks unpiloted spacecraft and, at times, supports spacewalking astronauts. Launched in April 2001, Canadarm2 is a larger, more advanced version of the original Canadarm, which was retired in July 2011.


Dextre, which is short for Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator, is a sophisticated two-armed robot that attaches to Canadarm2. It acts as a space handyman and performs routine upkeep and repair work outside the International Space Station so that astronauts can devote their time to scientific research. Launched in March 2008, Dextre is sometimes referred to as “the Canada Hand” since it rides on the end of Canadarm2 and manipulates small components that require precise handling.

Mobile Base

The Mobile Base is a moveable work platform and storage facility. It serves as a base for Canadarm2 and Dextre.


The astronaut depicted on the $5 note represents all Canadians who have contributed to the space program and the scientific research conducted on board the International Space Station. This image also depicts the courage and commitment of all Canadian astronauts and highlights the role they have played, and will continue to play, in inspiring youth to get excited about science and technology.

For more information, visit the Canadian Space Agency.