Secret museums: the old Canadian Currency Museum, now the Bank of Canada Museum

Following our passion for discovering secret museums, we arrive at the old Canadian Currency Museum, now called the Bank of Canada Museum. It is located in Ottawa, Canada capital city, and the fourth largest city in the country.

This unusual museum was opened in 1980; It houses the largest collection of Canadian national currencies, Canadian bank money, and the world’s biggest coins and medals collection.

It operates at the Bank of Canada’s historical building, which was built in 1937, just in front of Parliament Hill.

The Bank of Canada Currency Museum mission is to preserve Canada’s numismatic heritage by administering the national coins collection and teaching the community about experiences on money, the central bank, the economy, also foster confidence in banknotes, the value of money, the Canadian financial system, and to improve the society understanding about the bank’s work and the Canadian economy.

The museum collection began with a small collection of banknotes issued by Canadian banks and now has more than 100,000 objects.

The museum is considered one of the hidden gems of Ottawa, surprises its visitors and is located in the city center, often not included in the tours. At the end of 1970, the Bank of Canada building was completely remodeled by the Canadian well-known architect Arthur Erickson, he allocated the museum in a public space and gave it a glass atrium. The museum also has a library with more than 8,000 volumes that are consulted by government departments, police, academics, and the general public.

Here we can see the money of Newfoundland from the XVII century, objects that were found during archaeological activities in Hudson Bay and chips used as currency by the dairy industry of Canada.

There are also rare and surprising objects, such as one of the only two silver dollars issued by Canada,  or the “joachimsthalers” coined in San Joaquin Valley, Bohemia, a name that was reduced to “thaler” and then to the dollar.

Thanks to the trade with the Dutch and English, “thaler” was eventually dealt with in “Daalder” and today “a dollar”.

From the XVI century, the currency of choice in the Americas was the Spanish-American dollar. These coins were made of precious metals that certainly weren’t scarce, thanks to the abundance of gold and silver in the New World. The coins were called “pieces of eight” or “8 royals” and could be subdivided into “bits”. Two bits were equivalent to a piece of 25 cents.

Practical information:

Website: Bank of Canada Museum

Free admission.

Summertime (May 1 to October 1, Monday to Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.).

Closed on December 21, 2018, to January 1, 2019.
Regular schedule (October 1 to May 1): Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (closed on Mondays)
Location: 30 Bank Street, at the corner of Bank and Wellington Streets, right next to Sparks Street Mall. Look for the pyramidal glass structure.

How to get there: by bus from Gatineau: any bus from the Transport Society of l’Outaouais (STO) passing through downtown Ottawa. Bus-stop  Wellington / Bank Street stop. Please check the STO website for routes and schedules.

From Ottawa: take the OC Transpo Transitway buses to the Bank Street stop or the Bank Street buses to the Sparks Street stop. Check the OC Transpo website for routes and schedules.

Car: take Highway 417 east direction, Kent Street exit and drive north to Wellington Street. Turn right at Wellington and continue to Bank Street.

From Highway 417 westbound: take the Catherine Street exit and travel west on Catherine to Kent Street. Turn right at Kent and drive north to Wellington Street. Turn right at Wellington and continue to Bank Street.

From Gatineau: cross Portage Bridge and turn left to Wellington Street. Continue to Bank Street.

It’s very easy to reach the museum. Don’t leave without going to the gift shop to have a souvenir from this unforgettable visit.

Picture: Wikipedia