Canadian Fractional Currency

What do you do when you run low on coinage? You go and make some fractional currency.

Where's the Coins

In the early days Canada had always been short on coinage. First with the French and also later under British rule. This makes sense as every coin had to be minted in Europe and then make the treacherous trek across the Atlantic to get to Canada. Due to this shortage foreign coins (such as those from the US) were commonly used as a way to transact business.

A Temporary Solution

In the 1870s the Canadian have had enough. Depreciated U.S. sliver flowed into Canada after the American Civil War and Canada planned on enacting new monetary policy and minting new coinage to attach the problem. The issue was the coinage was ordered from the Royal Mint in London and getting coins from Britain was not a quick process. So 25 cent fractional currency (or shinplasters) were printed and used as a temporary measure to be used for change. These fractional currency become so popular however, that they remainder in use for over 65 years.


These notes were frequently called shinplasters. The term "shinplasters" originated during the Revolutionary War as soldiers commonly used U.S. Fractional Currency to prevent their boots from chafing. In the 1870 version of the Canadian Fractional Currency features a vignette of Britannia. Britannia is the national personification of Britain as a helmeted female warrior holding a trident and shield. The 1900 release of the 25 cent fractional notes featured a seated Britannia with a trident and shield.