The Canada 150 commemorative $10 bank note

Product Owner: Bank of Canada 


In 2017, Canada celebrated the 150th anniversary of Confederation – the process by which the modern Dominion of Canada was first created. The Bank of Canada marked this special event by issuing a commemorative $10 bank note – the Canada 150 note.

The note began circulating on June 1, 2017, one month before Canada’s birthday. This way, the note reached broad distribution and was in the hands of Canadians by the time they came together to celebrate. Adding to the special nature of this note, is the fact that it is only the fourth commemorative bank note issued by the Bank of Canada in its 80-year history.

This commemorative note project should be recognized for its many achievements. Through it, the Bank demonstrated that it is a leading and dynamic institution, dedicated to the pursuit of excellence and constantly innovating to achieve it. This note presented unique opportunities to test new approaches in public consultation, design, stakeholder engagement, and security features. The successes from this commemorative note acted as a springboard for the Bank’s recently released vertical $10 note, and learnings from the Canada 150 project will continue to serve Canada’s bank notes well in to the future.

Please review the attached nomination paper that succinctly highlights how this commemorative note complies with the IACA award criteria. It also contains links to videos and images of the Canada 150 note.

New feature (s) or technical innovation

Please review the attached nomination paper for more details.
The Canada 150 note provided rich learning opportunities from a security standpoint. The Frontiers series polymer notes were issued from 2011-13, thus, the analysis of new features or their integration with other elements on this commemorative note, informed future development in areas like handling, durability, security, manufacturability, impact to production and aesthetics.
With this note, the Bank adopted a proven technical configuration while allowing room for innovation. In summary, the Canada 150 note included several new features and technical innovations:

  • first use of a Surface Relief feature
  • first Bank of Canada note since the 1970s to use two-sided intaglio
  • first time using four colours of intaglio ink on one side of a note
  • first use of a SPARK feature

Legal tender


Please review the attached nomination paper for more details.
In summary, the Canada 150 included several firsts:

  • first note to feature four portrait subjects
  • first note to feature the portrait of a Canadian woman (other than Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the Royal family)
  • first note to feature an Indigenous Canadian as a portrait subject
  • first note to depict all three of Canada’s Indigenous groups – First Nations, Inuit and Metis
  • first note to apply new Principles for Bank Note Design

Historical or local content

Please review the attached nomination paper for details.
In summary, the Canada 150 note involved seeking broad input from Canadians on the visual content and conducting meaningful engagement with many stakeholder groups. For example:

  • The note’s design carefully incorporates many of the themes suggested by Canadians through public consultation. The themes include: land and landscapes, history and heritage, celebrate Confederation, democracy, equality and rights, and Indigenous traditions and culture.
  • The Indigenous representations on the note speak to the analytical framework and rigor applied to the visual content development. Much time and effort was invested with subject matter experts and key stakeholders to ensure meaningful and accurate depictions of the Indigenous symbols and images. The Bank enlisted the help of living family members, advisors, curators, historians, Indigenous Elders and government representatives; this reflected very well on our reputation and the experience has provided a solid base to work from in future.

Integration of features and design

Please review the attached nomination paper for more details.
In summary, the Canada 150 note seemlessly integrates security with graphic design. Examples include:

  • Owl’s Bouquet: the Inuit artwork is rendered as a vibrant foil feature in the window. Thematically, it was chosen because the artist lived and worked in Nunavut (last territory to join Confederation). The composition of the work brings strong security value; it allowed the Bank to make increased use of fine line demetallization.
  • Design integration of the window area: required great collaboration between suppliers and lead designers at CBN. The result is a border of 13 maple leaves, linked by their stems, integrating the Surface Relief and substrate design in a cohesive manner.
  • the Metis sash (important cultural symbol) is integrated as a fine line pattern on the front of the note; thus, even the security patterns carry meaning and help tell the story of the note.

Graphic design innovation

Please review the attached nomination paper for more details.
One of the Bank’s most challenging and fulfilling objectives with the Canada 150 note was its commitment to further engage the public in the design process. This stems from the Principles for Bank Note Design, which were published by the Bank in 2014 as a review of the process used in the development of our first polymer notes, the Frontiers series. The development of this note presented the first opportunity to apply these formalized design principles.
To this end, the Bank undertook quantitative and qualitative public opinion research and consultation, and provided access for Canadians to provide direct comment through its website. The ideas and suggestions received through these processes greatly influenced the note’s visual content. These are learnings that have since been applied to a regularly circulating note.



Awards | Currency Awards 2019


Best New Commemorative or Limited Circulation Banknote


Finalist | Winner