One day last week I was handed my 88 cents in change from lunch at the Crystal Cafe. As is my habit, I checked the coins handed to me.
There were three quarters, a dime and three cents. The denominations were nothing special. One of the cents caught my eye. It was a Canadian cent. Living in Wisconsin as I do, Canadian coins are not unknown. They can’t be used in vending machines, but somehow or other, they often show up in change.
Canadian fishing trips have been a popular pastime for people around Iola for many years. Canadian coins come back with them. They find their way into commerce.
Technically, the coins are not legal tender in the United States, but people don’t usually behave on the basis of technicalities. Even with the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the coins, there is a certain familiarity to them.
Canada has a cent, a five-cent piece, a 10-cent coin, a 25-cent coin and a 50-cent piece. Just don’t call them by their American nicknames. Dimes, quarters and halves just don’t cut it north of the border.
It isn’t because Canadians don’t like nicknames. They are fond of them for the $1 coin that depicts a loon. Not surprisingly it is called a “Loonie.” Americans probably could call their $1 coins by the same nickname, but most would think the name would refer to the congressmen who keep authorizing the denomination.
The Canadian $2 coin is called a “Twoonie,” the latter is difficult to remember how to spell, but it rhymes with Loonie.
The $1 and $2 coins circulate readily in Canada, but they don’t find their way to Iola. It is probably because Americans still don’t know what to make of them. We prefer our paper money, but Canada has not had a paper $1 for 20 years and the paper $2 disappeared more than 10 years ago.
Did I think all this as I got my change? Nah. Actually, all that crossed my mind that day was that I was losing much less than I used to by accepting the coin. The Canadian dollar has been on roll in recent years and it is almost back to even with the U.S. currency, but that’s a story for another day.