Guest Column: Stray Coins demonstrate Canadas multicultural roots

January 26, 2015

By Tony Hine

CEMA Member & Coin Expert

Experienced birdwatchers are quite familiar with erratic birds well outside their usual habitat or migration route. Coin-collectors also see non-native currency far from home.

Just as thrifty Canadian tourists may try to tip an unwary third-world bellhop with

Sandy McTires Canadian Tire bills, so too some Caribbean immigrants know that some nickel coins from the West Indies, especially bearing a likeness of Queen Elizabeth, may pass as Canadian if added quickly to a TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) fare box.

Aluminum coins from Russia, Japan or even China looked suspiciously like TTC tokens before the switch to bimetallic versions in October 2006.

TTC spokesperson Marilyn Bolton mentions the zloty of Poland as an aluminum coin which regularly impersonated as an aluminum token, prior to the changeover to the bimetallic token. But spokesman Dave Hughes in Revenue at TTC says the foreign coin taken in at TTC fare boxes is less than people think at only $700 or $800 per year. He thought Chinese 1 Yuan coins were not a factor as token look-a-likes.

British 10 New Pence Coins regularly show up in my wifes change purse when she has been to a Starbucks. Australian 10 cent coins also look like Canadian twenty-five cent coins, although the pineapple is a clear contrast to the Caribou.

The Barbados Five cent and Bermuda ten cent can also be mistaken for a Canadian nickel quarter. An Italian 50 lira coin looks like a quarter, while the bimetallic 500 lira coin is smaller than a twonie, but from a distance the copper core could be confused with the twonie.

Welcome to multicultural Canada, from where the roads lead to every corner of the world.

Tony Hine, a well-known former financial analyst and investment banker from Bay Street, specializes in old coins and writes for the Canadian Coin News — the leading coin publication in Canada. Any questions about coins?— e-mail Tony Hine at [email protected]