It’s Canada’s penny, but you wouldn’t know it from the maple leaf – or rather, the lack of one. It turns out, our penny doesn’t actually depict a Canadian maple leaf. The Mint’s wounds are still fresh from the “Norwegian maple” controversy, too. It’s looking like Canadian money isn’t very Canadian at all, at least not when it comes to representing our homegrown symbol.
I once wrote about the plastic $20 bills and got reamed out for not liking them. In that case, the cheese (me) stood alone. But not liking our money because it’s the wrong maple leaf seems to be pretty widespread. If you care about this sort of thing, you’re likely to be in shock and awe over the lack of accuracy of our money, both new and old.
Get a closer look at the new $20 bill – and some of its faults – below.
The penny is on its way out, but it’s been around for a long, long time (since 1858, to be exact). That’s why it is so shocking that a Vancouver arborist is just now crying foul over the depiction of the maple leaf on our one-cent coin.
“To my shock and disbelief it is not [a maple leaf],” writes arborist Bruce Livingstone. “All maples are defined as having ‘opposite’ leaves and buds. This means each leaf or bud will have a ‘twin’ leaf or bud directly across the stem from each other. The leaves or buds arise in pairs from the same point on the stem as direct opposites.”
I didn’t exactly follow the entire explanation because I’m not really into trees. But I do think it’s pretty sad that we didn’t get this right. Not once, but twice now. The leaves on the penny apparently come from a London plane tree. How is it that no arborist has picked up on this before now? Do we not have experts overseeing the production of our coins?
“The Canadian Mint is not alone in making this mistake,” Livingstone writes. “I have seen the leaves of this tree used several times to represent a maple leaf in television advertisements, to brand maple leaf products, for Olympic promotions, and to stand for all things ‘Canadian.’”
Our penny depicts an English tree, and our $20 bill depicts a Norwegian maple leaf. The Bank of Canada says that the polymer $20 bills depict a “stylized” Canadian maple leaf. But stylized seems to be code for not-Canadian-at-all. In the game of designing money, we kind of suck, don’t we?
That said, I’m not sure how much it matters. We all have better things to do than to analyze pictures on a penny. It’s kind of shocking that this mistake happened without anyone noticing, but it’s not really impacting anyone in a hugely significant way. I’m not going to cry over it, and I hope you’re not losing sleep over it either. The penny is nearly out the door, anyway.
Do you care that our coinage doesn’t actually depict the Canadian maple leaf? Are you surprised that nobody has caught on until now?