Canadian 2 Dollar Bill – Facts About Canada’s $2 Bill

Posted on September 7, 2023 by Dan Kent
Canadian Money

There are few bank notes with a story as interesting as the Canadian 2-dollar bill. No longer accepted as legal tender, this once common paper money was discontinued on February 18th, 1996, and replaced by the 2-dollar coin, or 'toonie' (more on that later). 

Older people fondly remember using the 2 dollar bill at the corner store or waking up to find the tooth fairy had left a couple of bucks under your pillow. But throughout its lifespan, the 2 dollar bill has had some pretty interesting associations. These days, your 2 dollar bill could be worth a lot more than its original face value.

Let's take a closer look at the strange story of the Canadian 2-dollar bill.

When did Canada have 2 dollar bills?

The Bank of Canada first commissioned and printed the 2 dollar bill in 1935. The first run featured the portrait of a member of the British royal family on the 'heads' side of the banknotes and a changing engraving on the reverse 'tails' side of the note.

Who was on Canada's 2 dollar bills?

Since it was first printed, the Canadian 2 dollar bill has featured the portrait of 3 different members of the British royal family. The long reign of the queen meant that a portrait of Queen Elizabeth ii was by far the longest featuring image on the 2 dollar bill. The first to appear, however, was Queen Mary in 1935, the wife of King George V.

The Canadian 2-dollar bill has appeared in a few different forms over the years, using a variety of colours, images, and text, even featuring a bilingual version. In 1937, the bill began to appear in its well-known terra cotta colour. The note then went on to feature King George VI and, subsequently, the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Some editions of the bill included images of two robins, which some say also inspired the signature terra cotta colour scheme.

The Canadian 2-dollar bill was not popular everywhere

Did you know that at some point in time, some provinces and regions weren't as fond of the 2 dollar bill as others?

In 1967 British Columbia, the 2 dollar bill was used as often as the 1 dollar bill, at a 1 to 1 ratio. People in Vancouver used this bill more than any other region. But in Regina, people were using the 1 dollar bill 400 times more than they were using the 2 dollar bill. Some companies then started paying their employees 2 dollar bills only to show their importance to the local economy. And many a financial institution kept an eye on how often the 2 dollar bill was passing through their system.

The 2 dollar bill and other Canadian banknotes were often referred to as 'funny money' by Americans, thanks to the gaudy design and loud colours.

The scenes of Canada series

The Bank of Canada produced a 'scenes of Canada' version of a number of banknotes between 1969 and 1979, the 2 dollar bill included. This new series of banknotes featured a memorable image of Joseph Idlout, a famous Inuit hunter from Baffin Island. 

The $2 bill had some interesting assocations

The 2 dollar bill was commonly associated with ladies of the night. This was particularly the case in the western provinces and urban centres like Vancouver. In fact, it was reported that people in Edson, Alberta, refused to use the 2 dollar bill at all because of this association. Gambling yet was another unsavoury activity that bankers and others associated with the 2 dollar bill. 

The Duke of Windsor briefly appeared on the Canadian 2-dollar bill. However, he abdicated the British throne in 1936, preferring life with American Wallis Simpson. Often referred to as Britain's Traitor King, he was even alleged to have had dealings with the Nazis before and during WW2. This kind of association gave the 2 dollar bill a bad name, and notes that carried his image were avoided by bankers and common citizens alike.

If you think these are bad enough, some even steered away from the 2 dollar bill because of its connection with the word 'deuce' and the devil!

Is a Canadian $2 bill worth anything?

We all know that plenty of old banknotes and coins sell for much more than their original face value. And the same can be said for the Canadian 2-dollar bill. Some Canadian 2-dollar bills printed between 1986 and 1991 can sell for up to $19,800.00! 

The notes printed between these years featured a distinctive terra cotta colour and a portrait of Queen Elizabeth ii adorned with robins. These particular notes are significant because they are among the last produced but also a part of the 'Birds of Canada' series.

How do I know if my 2 dollar bill is worth money?

Just be sure to check the serial number. If there's an AUH prefix, you might be holding one of the most valuable versions of the original bill. Of course, the bill's condition is essential if you're considering getting it valued. Any damage to the bill, such as a tear, splotch, or watermark, will affect its value.

Why can't you use $2 bills?

These days, the infamous 2 dollar bill is no longer considered royal tender. It hasn't been produced since 1996; the 2 dollar coin, affectionately known as the 'toonie,' has taken its place. The announcement was made in February 1996, and the 2 dollar bill was withdrawn from circulation.

Disclaimer: The writer of this article or employees of Stocktrades Ltd may have positions in securities listed in this article. Stocktrades Ltd may also be compensated via affiliate links in this post. Stocktrades Ltd will run advertisements on our posts. These advertisements do not represent an endorsement by us.

Dan Kent

About the author

An active dividend and growth investor, Dan has been involved with the website since its inception. He is primarily a researcher and writer here at Stocktrades.ca, and his pieces have numerous mentions on the Globe and Mail, Forbes, Winnipeg Free Press, and other high authority financial websites. He has become an authority figure in the Canadian finance niche, primarily due to his attention to detail and overall dedication to achieving the highest returns on his investments. Investing on his own since he was 19 years old, Dan has compiled the experience and knowledge needed to be successful in the world of self-directed investing, and is always happy to bring that knowledge to Stocktrades.ca readers and any other publications that give him the opportunity to write. He has completed the Canadian Securities Course, manages his TFSA, RRSPs and a LIRA at Qtrade, and has compiled a real estate portfolio of his primary residence and 2 rental properties, all before his 30th birthday.