At an official ceremony on Sept. 9 in Ottawa, the Bank of Canada
unveiled its long-awaited commemorative $20 bank note honoring Queen
Elizabeth II. As of that day, her reign exceeded the 63 years, 216
days of her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, making her the
longest serving British monarch.
The commemorative note, of which 40 million will be issued, is
similar to the current $20 note, with one distinct difference: its
large holographic window contains a range of special design elements.
One is a metallic portrait of a young Elizabeth, wearing a crown
(tiara) for the first time on a Canadian bank note. The portrait is
based on a 1951 image by Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh originally
for a postage stamp and modified for use by the Bank of Canada. It is
the same photograph as was used, without the crown, on the 1954 series
of bank notes and the 1967 commemorative note celebrating Confederation.
Below the portrait is text that reads A HISTORIC REIGN • UN RÈGNE
HISTORIQUE repeated multiple times across the top, center and bottom
of the window. This text appears sometimes in reverse, legible from
the other side of the note. A garland of holographic maple leaves
below the queen’s monogram represents Canada’s 13 provinces and territories.
Other design elements on the note are the same on both the regular
series $20 note and the commemorative note: the large portrait of the
queen, images on the back depicting the Canadian World War I Vimy
Memorial, and an artistic rendering of poppies symbolizing remembrance
and honoring Canada’s military.
This is the third Canadian commemorative note. The first celebrated
the Silver Jubilee of King George V in 1935, and the second was for
the 1967 centennial. The Bank of Canada has also announced that it
will issue a commemorative bank note marking Canada’s 150th
anniversary in 2017