One of the big events in Britain in 1965 was the decision to change the system of currency from the complicated pounds, shillings and pence, to the decimal system. Canada might have been stuck with pounds, shillings and pence in the 1850s if it had not been for a hard battle by Finance Minister Hincks and others.
When the United States adopted the decimal system in 1808, Canada tried unsuccessfully to do the same. Britain wanted to keep Canada in the “sterling bloc,” using its currency. Various measures were passed by the Parliament of Canada after the Act of Union in 1840 but were disallowed by the British Government. Finally a compromise was reached on August 30, 1851, but it was not until January 1, 1858, that the decimal system of currency became effective. Problems were created when New Brunswick and Nova Scotia joined Canada in 1867, and other provinces after that.
Some unusual forms of currencies were used in Canada over the years. Even playing cards (see my April 18 post: Playing Cards Become Money?!). when Britain took Canada from France in 1763, there were 800,000 livres of unredeemed paper money in circulation, and many people were big losers.
Then Spanish silver dollars gained wide acceptance, many of them coming into circulation through illicit trade. These dollars had different values in different places. In New York a dollar would be worth eight shillings, but only five in Halifax. In Quebec silver dollars were called “Halifax currency”, while Montreal called them “York currency.” One problem was to get metal coins small enough to make change. merchants used to curt the Spanish dollars into smaller pieces known as “four bits”, and “two bits”, expressions still (though, admittedly not widely) in use not that long ago, meaning 50 or 25 cents.
Currency complications continued as late as 1881, as new provinces joined Confederation. Their currencies were taken out of circulation gradually and redeemed. Even in the 1920s, a paper bill, known as a “shin-plaster” (worth 25 cents, was often seen.
” ‘Tis money rules the world now,
It’s rank and education,
It’s power and knowledge, sense and worth,
And pious reputation.
Get cash, and ‘gainst all human ills,
You’re armed and you’re defended,
For in it even here on earth,
All heaven is comprehended.”
– ALEXANDER McLACHAN, 1861
Term used for the Spanish silver dollar rated at five shillings of about twenty cents each in Nova Scotia. It was used from 1750 until 1751.
The Spanish reale in terms of the New York price of twelve and one-half cents was used in Ontario, and thus was distinguished from the Halifax shilling of about twenty cents. It was used between 1800 and 1850.
Too many men salt away money in the brine of other people’s tears.
– BOB EDWARDS, 1917
I don’t know how to play cards and I’m glad there are no more pennies. Interesting history. I like the last quote, Tk.
I’m glad there are no more pennies too … I mean, they would just pile up and Make the purse heavy … Or use them to do art. Much better now.
I hope you have a great evening! 🙂 Though I suspect you may still be recovering from B.C.’s party .. . LOL
More party this weekend, Tk. Last weekend of summer. 😛
That sounds depressing! But then, who knows anymore what the weather will do … 🙂
Opsey, sorry. Who knows, maybe we will have Indian Summer. 😛
I am so hoping! 🙂
i met an artist some decades ago who had a sense of humor. He made ceramic coins that he passed around for personal currancy. On one side, he stamped “Use” and the other side “Less”. Thus he could be reminding us to “use less” or that his coins were “useless”. Maybe they will be valuable some day… if only I could remember his name and have him become important, then I could auction them off for real money 🙂
LOL. He sounds like e was someone worth knowing! Kinda cool what he did … A memory to cherish for sure! 🙂
I was born 73 so was used to pennies and pounds, old people try to explain how the old way works, but they get the same look when I am standing in the laundry room and Dawn is explaining the working of things..just a blank stare with music playing in mind not listening to a word…
..But I am no further forward 🙂
LOL .. that’s a funny image you put in my head! But yes, I know what you mean. We also have the conversions here with the metric system … different generation with different rules! 🙂
Yeah I hope (PRAY) when “WHEN” Scotland gets independence from the UK we don’t go to the Euro or make something new. I will “feel” poorer 🙂
🙂 lol x
This post is a nice interpretation of history. Interesting quote too.
Thank you very much; I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed it! 🙂
I still love the playing cards as money idea! I would be happy though, if old paperback books could be usd as currency, as they are in some old bookstores.
🙂 you mean: bring in your old books and you can have others?
Yeah, I like the playing cards too! 🙂