When the Bank of Western Canada opened in 1859, the
less-than-credible establishment used a familiar image of St. George
slaying the dragon on its $5 note.
The design may have been influenced by Benedetto Pistrucci’s
design for Britain’s gold sovereign coins, according to the Royal
Canadian Mint. The vignette from the bank note design is now being
revived for a Proof . 9999 fine silver $5 coin.
Despite the injection of legitimacy provided by the vignette, the
bank never redeemed any of its notes before having its charter revoked
in 1863 amid a larger banking scandal sweeping the nation.
The chartered bank was owned by a New York tavern keeper who
corralled a respected local in Clifton (in what is modern-day Niagara
Falls, Ontario) to represent him at the bank in exchange for stock in
the bank, according to Canadian Bank Notes, sixth edition, by R.J.
Graham. The bank issued $1, $2, $5 and $10 notes.
It was common at the time for “wildcat” institutions to issue
notes they never intended to honor, eroding public faith in chartered
banks’ notes. An outcry fed national momentum toward gold-backed
government-issued notes, a practice that began with Provincial notes
in 1866 and Dominion notes following Confederation.
Royal Canadian Mint engravers copied the vignette design from the
note for the second coin in a series featuring designs from historic
Canadian bank notes.
The obverse bears the Susanna Blunt effigy of Queen Elizabeth II.
The coin weighs 23 grams and measures 36 millimeters in diameter.
With a mintage limit of 8,500 pieces, the coin costs $69.95 in
The U.S. prices for collectors in the United States buying from
the RCM fluctuate with the exchange rate of the U.S. and Canadian
dollars at the time of purchase.
Telephone the RCM inside the United States at 800-268-6468. In
Canada, telephone the RCM at 800-267-1871. Visit the RCM website at www.mint.ca.
Two RCM distributors in the United States (Gatewest Coin Ltd. and
Talisman Coins) carry the coin at fixed prices in U.S. dollars.
To contact Gatewest inside the United States, telephone the firm
at 204-489-9112 or visit it online at www.gatewestcoin.com.
Visit the Talisman website at www.talismancoins.com or phone the
business at 888-552-2646. ■