The 25-cent banknote

Did you know?

On page 6 of the prologue (first panel on the right), you will notice that one of the boys has a handful of what looks like dollars. They are actually quarters. Yes, paper quarters !

In 1930, in the era of the Wolf Man, five fractional coins (dividing the dollar into units) were in circulation in Canada. The 10 and 20 cents were the first to appear on the market in 1858. Then followed the 25 cents in 1870, the 50-cent coin in 1908, the penny in 1920 and, two years later, the five cents.

All of these denominations, except the 25 cents, were silver, bronze or copper coins. The 25 cents, however, was printed on paper and was commonly known as shinplaster because it closely resembled the American shinplaster. The latter was emitted during the American Revolution (1765-1783) by the government of the Thirteen Colonies. As the paper currency was not redeemable at face value, it was worth so little that the American soldiers used it as dressing for wounds or as padding in their boots to protect their feet from the cold.

But why did the Dominion of Canada produce a paper 25 cents when all other fractional denominations were made of metal?

It so happens that, during the American Civil War (1861-1865), the American army purchased supplies in Canada and often paid the small items with 10-, 25-, and 50-cent coins. This practice, among others, contributed to a surplus of American coins in circulation in Canada. Furthermore, the Canadian foreign exchange dealers imported large quantities of American coins. And, for some unknown reason, Canadians preferred the American quarter (from the
Imperial system) to their 20-cent coin (from the metric system).

In 1870, the Canadian government addressed the glut of American fractional currency circulating in the country by replacing the 20-cent coin with a silver 25 cents. As the latter were a long time coming from the Royal Mint in London, the government issued a temporary paper version of the 25 cents. The paper currency became so popular with the public that it remained in circulation for 65 years or until 1935! The last shinplasters were printed in 1923, the year Joe LaFlamme started working with wolves.

In 2020, the 1930 shinplaster would be equivalent to $3.73 CAD.


Bank of Canada. Inflation Calculator, https://, retrieved September 29, 2020.

Bank of Canada: James Powell. A History of the Canadian Dollar, uploads/2010/07/dollar_livre.pdf, retrieved August 26, 2020.

L’Imaginaire. 01-25 cents, collectors/coins-and-paper-money/05-canadian-paper- money/01-25-cents.html?page=3&getidfromquery=1, retrieved September 29, 2020.

Royal Canadian Mint. Royal Canadian Mint History Timeline, timeline–4000020, retrieved August 26, 2020.

The Canadian Encyclopedia: Donald G. Mcgillivray. Money in Canada, article/monnaie-legale#:~text=Des cartes à jouer sont,(voir Monnaie de carte), retrieved August 26, 2020.

Wikipedia. Shinplaster, Shinplaster, retrieved August 26, 2020.