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A penny for your thoughts? OK, make it a nickle...
April 22, 2014 8:33 PM   Subscribe

Across Canada a beloved and familiar face is silently disappearing. Everyday transactions in shopping centers and banks are slowly feeding a systematized extinction unnoticed by most. The object of destruction: the Canadian penny. -- via PBS NewsHour
posted by jim in austin (77 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
"nickle" must be one of those odd British-acquired spellings like "colour".
posted by hippybear at 8:49 PM on April 22


US next!
posted by cman at 8:54 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


Hard to believe it's been a bit more than a year since we got rid of the penny. I barely notice the difference.

Every now and then when I pay cash for something I will briefly check if I came out "ahead" or not, and then wonder what my overall tally is and if some clever store was able to price their goods to come out ahead (due to how many items people generally purchase perhaps). But most of my purchases end with me swiping either a credit or debit card so most of the time I don't even give the subject that much thought.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 8:57 PM on April 22


It makes sense not to have pennies and no one I know misses them. Prices are rounded to the nearest 0.05 if you are paying in cash, but sometimes remain to the nearest cent if paying debit or credit.

Eliminating the penny is one of the few unambiguously good things the Harper government has done.

The sentimental argument for keeping them around doesn't have much truck with me (like when people were upset that Pluto was reclassified as a dwarf planet). I mean, we got rid of the halfpenny and somehow quiet quirky everyday pleasures are still within our repertoire.
posted by erlking at 9:00 PM on April 22 [12 favorites]


I have a bag of pennies sitting on a shelf near me that I keep meaning to ... something something somewhere ... but since the whole thing's probably only worth $2, I haven't bothered. There's also a penny in my coin purse that irritates me every time I make change, but I can't be arsed to take it out and ... something something somewhere ... it, either.

Plus, every time I go to America, I get stupid American coins, and while I can slip the quarters into parking machines and fob the dimes off on unsuspecting cashiers, the flipping pennies haunt me forever.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:01 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


"nickle" must be one of those odd British-acquired spellings like "colour".

Huh? I think you guys "acquired" your unique way of spelling (that is of course used by 300 million+ English-speakers) when Max Webster "forked" the spelling conventions back in the 1820's.

Canadian English, with a few exceptions, uses British spelling conventions. It's a real pain if, like me, you happen to write for Canadian, Caribbean, and American clients.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:01 PM on April 22 [4 favorites]


you take that back, about the halfpenny
posted by thelonius at 9:07 PM on April 22 [4 favorites]


Good riddance to the penny whose cost to produce, distribute and administer came to far exceed its worth.
And I use Canadian spelling conventions as a point of pride, spell checkers be damned.
posted by islander at 9:10 PM on April 22 [6 favorites]


"And I use Canadian spelling conventions as a point of pride, spell checkers be damned."

My spell checker uses Canadian English spelling, I assumed it was widely available here in Canada?
posted by acroyear at 9:15 PM on April 22 [3 favorites]


Since the death of the penny my change looks a lot cleaner. I've noticed that the contents of charity boxes at airports are mostly silver now. For me, anything less than a quarter goes to the charity box at the till. I look forward to the dime disappearing next, too darn small.
posted by furtive at 9:19 PM on April 22


obligatory West Wing clip regarding this issue
posted by warm_planet at 9:21 PM on April 22 [2 favorites]


It makes sense not to have pennies and no one I know misses them. Prices are rounded to the nearest 0.05 if you are paying in cash, but sometimes remain to the nearest cent if paying debit or credit.

Electronic transactions are never supposed to be rounded.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:21 PM on April 22


My spell checker uses Canadian English spelling, I assumed it was widely available here in Canada?
Not on the more colourful American websites.
posted by islander at 9:22 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


My installation of Firefox is using a Canadian English dictionary RIGHT NOW.
posted by maudlin at 9:25 PM on April 22 [2 favorites]


Canadian English, with a few exceptions, uses British spelling conventions.

There are many exceptions, actually. Most words that don't fit a pattern (-our/-or, -ize/-ise, -tre/-ter, the pattern of L in words like travel and enrol) tend to prefer the American spelling. Which is why you don't ever see references to Canadian Tyre or the Don Gaol.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:29 PM on April 22 [2 favorites]


OK, make it a nickle...

Actually, it's a Canadian Nickel. That's how we Canadians spell it.
posted by kneecapped at 9:29 PM on April 22 [6 favorites]


Good riddance to the penny whose cost to produce, distribute and administer came to far exceed its worth.

I would eliminate the (U.S.) penny as quickly as anyone, largely because I hate carrying them around, but I do not understand this particular argument. The utility of any coin or bill, that needs to be reflected in its fabrication cost, isn't really particularly connected to its face value; the utility comes in denoting that amount in thousands of transactions over the years. Like, if a penny is circulated in maybe 1000 transactions, I think the cost to make it should be measured against some reasonable portion of 1 cent x 1000, i.e., $10.

I have no idea if that is even a feasible number, and of course it would be silly to spend that entire $10 that the penny will denote in its entire lifetime on producing the penny, but it can certainly be above 1 cent and still be worth doing.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 9:35 PM on April 22 [5 favorites]


Only if you could actually buy anything for a penny in present times.
posted by islander at 9:40 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]


My quiet joy is sleeving pennies. I admit it! And clearly I am not alone, as they're frequently sold out at the dry goods shop I frequent with my wife and nineteen children on our Saturday outings in the wagon.
posted by 1adam12 at 9:41 PM on April 22 [3 favorites]


Step one: eliminate the US Penny and the US Nickel, following Canada's method.

Step two: eliminate the US Quarter. For a period of one year, four quarters can be exchanged for five $0.20 pieces, which are exactly the same size and weight as a quarter, and after that year quarters are only worth $0.20.

Step three: we can drop an entire decimal place from our prices -- $1.9 instead of $1.99, for instance -- and the economy booms for a while because signs need to be reprinted, pricing guns and registers and other hardware need to be redesigned, and software needs to be rewritten.
posted by davejay at 9:59 PM on April 22 [4 favorites]


The utility of any coin or bill, that needs to be reflected in its fabrication cost, isn't really particularly connected to its face value

It absolutely is to the issuer.

A major source of government income is the difference between the cost to produce the token and the face value of the money. If that's negative, the government/mint loses money by issuing it. If it's a net gain, the government makes money as it expands the supply of money each year, as it has to do to meet the needs of a growing economy. That's an enormous amount of money each year.
posted by bonehead at 10:08 PM on April 22 [2 favorites]


"Across Canada a beloved and familiar face is silently disappearing. Everyday transactions in shopping centers and banks are slowly feeding a systematized extinction unnoticed by most. "

What? Waxing poetic, I know, but just not the case at all. The Canadian penny didn't die a slow death. One day they were there, they next they were gone. Once stores stopped giving them as change, it all happened incredibly quickly. It wasn't a slow extinction - this was the asteroid.

(An asteroid that made all the survivors very good at rounding to the nearest five.)
posted by bicyclefish at 10:23 PM on April 22 [3 favorites]


ALSO that beloved face isn't disappearing at all! The Queen is on every other piece of coinage! And while I quite like her a great many hear would dispute how beloved she is.

EVERY PART OF THAT SENTENCE IS WRONG
posted by bicyclefish at 10:26 PM on April 22 [6 favorites]


I'm okay with the halfpenny so long as everybody agrees to spell and pronounce it "ha'penny".
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:26 PM on April 22 [3 favorites]


The problem with pennies is that not only did they cost more to manufacture than the transactional unit they represented (more than one cent, in other words), but they also circulated relatively rarely, only being used in a few transactions each before being collected in jars and then sitting idle for months and years.

If each penny were typically used in thousands, or even just hundreds of transactions per year, then it would probably still have a positive, worthwhile utility despite costing more than one cent to manufacture. But since the purchasing power of a few cents is no longer high enough to actually buy anything on their own (and 50 penny rolls failed to catch on as a common unit of exchange), we wound up in a situation where the total transactional value that a penny was used for over it's entire lifetime was, in aggregate, lower than it's manufacturing cost... so it was time for them to go.

I'm still rounding up two cents to the nearest five, and handing cashiers nickels which they then return to me, on top of my receipt.
posted by ceribus peribus at 10:32 PM on April 22 [2 favorites]




I'm okay with the halfpenny so long as everybody agrees to spell and pronounce it "ha'penny".

That'll do.

(And if you have no ha'penny then God bless you.)

(God bless you.)

posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:00 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]


Step one: eliminate the US Penny and the US Nickel, following Canada's method.

Since we are stupid and insist on hanging onto the dollar bill, rather than doing what all sensible countries have done and stop making them to make a dollar coin instantly succeed, there's exactly one proper answer to fixing our stupid money.

Devalue by ten, drop the $100, $50 and $20 notes. This makes our largest common coin worth $2.50, and makes the penny worth ten cents, makes the dollar a ten spot, the two dollar bill our $20 (and, hey, we'd actually then use the $2 bill), the $5 becomes the effective $50 and the $10 becomes the current $100.

Pennies become useful, dollar bills become useful, the pattern of our money (1/5/10/25/100/200/500/1000) remains exactly the same. Yes, you can argue that we should have a 20 cent piece instead of a quarter but dammit, we have quarters and we should continue to have quarters. If we MUST be consistent, we print the new $2 bills as $2.50 bills.

We would have to change the coinage and bills. This would provide much work in the world.

Fundamentally, though, we're going to have to devalue at some point -- we're at a point where the cent and five cent pieces are basically dead weight and the dime isn't far behind.

And we'd be living in a world where a quarter is a cheap beer token. HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE THAT WORLD?
posted by eriko at 3:59 AM on April 23


US next!

Sure, right after we finish switching to the metric system!

I appreciate all the arguments agains keeping the penny and would not really miss it if it were gone, but it does seem that old pennies turn up more than other coins which makes them kind of interesting. Finding a wheat penny is kind of neat, and a couple of months ago I got a steelie in my change. No, not a stealie.

Halfpennies/ha'pennies are fine, but the 12 year old boy in me has always had a fondness for the farthing.

The contrarian in me wants to bring back the mill; does anyone here remember them?
posted by TedW at 5:01 AM on April 23


I sure don't miss pennies, although it took me a while to get over standing a wee bit too long at a checkout counter, wondering why I had been shortchanged three cents.
posted by Calzephyr at 5:23 AM on April 23


I don't miss them at all, though I still haven't figured out what to do with the pennies I have in my bowl of change, at the bottom of probably every purse and in my sofa.
posted by jeather at 5:28 AM on April 23


Electronic transactions are never supposed to be rounded.

I thought so, but I fuzzily half-remembered maybe that not happening at some point, so I left myself a linguistic escape-hatch rather than commit to an absolute.

And yes, the penny died in the space of, like, a week. Less-than. Meteor strike, as was said. No option to resist or refuse its passing - which is good.

I spend about 4 weeks a year in the US and I hate hate HATE the $1 bill. Why does the US avoid making fairly minor changes that people might grumble about for a brief time but will ultimately get over, eventually realizing that the change has improved their lives? (I'm thinking not just currency but also things like switching to metric etc). This is not Canadian smugness (which I hate even more than $1 bills), I am genuinely curious. Is it the short election cycle?
posted by erlking at 5:40 AM on April 23


All this hate over the US 1-cent penny, and not a single person yet griping about the Eurozone, where there are both 1-cent AND 2-cent pieces, as well as the 5-cent. The 1-cent pieces are small enough to fit in your ear canal, the 2-cent is almost indistinguishably larger, and the 3 of them are all the same color and style. 10, 20, and 50 cent pieces are not so much better. Perhaps effort was minimized in their design, knowing that very little in the Eurozone costs less than 1EUR.
posted by whatzit at 6:37 AM on April 23


The real problem with the US currency system is neither the penny nor the $1 bill. It's the fact that you don't use your $2 bills.

Everyone seems to always be carrying around a wad of money thick enough to make a drug dealer jealous, but they don't actually have enough cash on them to settle a lunch bill.

And since it all looks the same, they end up flipping through all those ones searching for a half-remembered five that might make up their share of the tip.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:01 AM on April 23 [2 favorites]


The US bills also don't have braille or any other way for blind people to tell the difference between bills. Wikipedia says there will be some kind of tactile feature whenever the bills are next redesigned, though I have no idea how often that happens in the US.
posted by jeather at 7:08 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Many moons ago the US of A minted a three cent piece, called the three cent nickel. IMHO we should kill the dollar bill, kill the penny, and pound out a few 3 cent nickels. The US Mint has a new passion for collector coins, (because they actually turn a profit) and I can see a whole series of 3fers.
posted by Gungho at 7:36 AM on April 23


I hate hate HATE the $1 bill. Why does the US avoid making fairly minor changes that people might grumble about

We have a Golden Dollar, but it is not popular enough.
posted by soelo at 7:47 AM on April 23


The golden dollar would work just fine if the US decided to stop printing paper bills. They don't because nobody in Washington wants to take the heat for it.

When you need to make a change, setting a flag day to go from plan a to plan b is the policy with the least long-term pain. The "why not do both!" kind of solution rarely leads to a satisfactory result for anyone.
posted by bonehead at 7:55 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Someone please explain to me why carrying a (heavier) coin should replace a (lightweight) paper bill? Now paper money should be different colors/sizes, for sure.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:02 AM on April 23


Coins last years and years while bills last months. Also, they would save money.
posted by soelo at 8:05 AM on April 23


Before the three cent nickel there was the three-cent silver, which was made out of silver. And the US Mint can't issue a new one unless there's legislative action which, good luck.

The Mint is actually pretty hamstrung by Congress in a way no other mint is. Most world mints are semi-autonomous, and can issue their own coins for collectors without the approval of the legislature Just look at the difference in product offered by the US Mint and the Royal Canadian Mint. Some of the difference is accounted for by the ludicrous sorts of commemorative coins the US Mint put out, which caused Congress to stop issuing them until 1982.
posted by Small Dollar at 8:15 AM on April 23


But if we get rid of the US pennies, how will I use all the souvenir penny machines when we go on vacation?

Then I'll have to stick to the souvenir quarter machines, and that's just sort of crazy...
posted by needlegrrl at 8:16 AM on April 23


Coins last years and years while bills last months

Yes, I do know that and yet I haven't heard of a movement to make all currency as coins. I admit I have only read about the subject in MF but I do travel a lot and coins are the very devil to sort out and can be flimsy aluminum or so heavy they wear holes in the wallet. Or sometimes three different size coins with the same denomination.

Maybe the US should sort out the unintuitive coin sizes first. And stamp a BIG number on the back of each: 1¢, 5¢, 10¢, etc.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:26 AM on April 23


The golden dollar would work just fine if the US decided to stop printing paper bills. They don't because nobody in Washington wants to take the heat for it.

There's no pressing reason for them to take the heat, so why do it?

The net benefits seem to be only that

(1) It would save the government a trivial amount of money
(2) It would make foreign tourists from places with large-denomination coins happy
(3) Makers of coin purses might see higher sales
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:29 AM on April 23


The only time I've missed the penny was when I discovered I owed the bank $0.02, and rather than simply pay it online I scrounged around in the sofa until I found 2 pennies and went down to pay it in person... mostly so I could point out that it cost them 63 cents to send me the bill.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 9:02 AM on April 23


(4) The stupid vending machine that spits my dollar back at me five times would have to eat my coin!
posted by soelo at 9:02 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


They will live on forever in the loose change of Detroit. Seriously, we had a Canadian $2 bill waaaay after they retired them, and tried to spend it on a trip. The guy tried to buy it off us instead.
posted by Tesseractive at 9:31 AM on April 23


Having lived in Canada, the US and the Euro zone, I think the most annoying thing about dollar bills is that without them you usually only get coins back as change but it's awkward to be holding a wallet, bills and coins in only two hands. And also that you can't tell by glancing how much money is in your wallet, making carefully sorting bills while also holding coins even more important.
posted by carolr at 10:25 AM on April 23


I don't believe I've seen a US dollar coin in the flesh, and I certainly have never been handed one with my change. Its popularity should be of no concern; if you're committed to making a dollar coin, then you stop making dollar bills, and destroy them as they circulate back into your banks.

(2) It would make foreign tourists from places with large-denomination coins happy

Perhaps consider why people who live in countries with higher-denomination coins prefer (by a large majority, is my perception) dollar coins to dollar bills? I don't think it's a knee-jerk "it's different, and I don't like things that are different" reaction. Dollar bills are passed around so frequently that they get grubby and wear out very quickly. When I'm in the states my wallet can be stuffed with bills yet I might not have enough cash for lunch (versus the happy surprise of counting my pocket change when I'm in Canada and discovering I have $12 or whatever). I just carry my coins loose in my pockets and it is never a problem. $1 and $2 coins get spent pretty quickly (versus nickels and dimes which hang around forever).

Also, manufacturing a coin that lasts decades versus a bill that lasts months - does anyone have the actual figure of proposed savings to the mint? I suspect they would be non-trivial.
posted by erlking at 11:26 AM on April 23


We definitely need a $2 coin in the US. Make it fifty cent piece diameter, roughly, a little smaller, thinner and gold. I love dollar coins but they're practically like carrying quarters if you're 30+ and remember what a quarter could buy.
posted by aydeejones at 11:29 AM on April 23


I suspect that people in favour of $1 bills (and who dislike $2 bills) are paid representatives of Big Wallet, and their allies, the American Chiropractic Association.
posted by bonehead at 11:29 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Every time this gets brought up in the US there's a lobbying group for the zinc (?) industry called Americans for Common Cents that shuts down consideration of eliminating the penny.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 11:45 AM on April 23


Perhaps consider why people who live in countries with higher-denomination coins prefer (by a large majority, is my perception) dollar coins to dollar bills?

That's easy: it's because they have habits regarding money that accommodate the money that they're used to.

When I'm in the states my wallet can be stuffed with bills yet I might not have enough cash for lunch

Whereas I never have this problem, because I have a habit of clearing out ones regularly, the same way you have a habit of clearing out loonies and toonies.

On the other hand, I don't have a habit of clearing out change, because I've never needed one. To me, change is basically specialized pseudo-garbage that I put into a big cup at the end of every day. So for my habits, being in Canada sucks because my habits lead me to keep pulling out a $5 bill to pay for things, because real money is in my wallet and not-quite-valueless change is in my pocket, and I end the day with no cash and pockets weighed down with coins.

It's crazy -- it's like both of us have habits that accommodate the money we're used to, so when we go to places where different habits would be more appropriate we find it frustrating!

does anyone have the actual figure of proposed savings to the mint? I suspect they would be non-trivial.

A link above estimates it at about $180M/year. This is 0.005% of the federal budget or 0.003% of all government spending. Or, "trivial."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:47 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


(honest question: why do you think Canada, Australia, the EU, and the UK all have thought it wise and best to make the change to one-and-two dollar/euro/pound coins?)
posted by erlking at 11:50 AM on April 23


Sure, right after we finish switching to the metric system!

Canada hasn't even done that yet...
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 12:05 PM on April 23


The biggest change for me, frankly, has been the introduction of tap-to-pay for our chip and pin cards. It's quicker than counting out bills, plus no change to deal with. I almost never use cash now, day to day. The yuppie foodstamps (aka the $20 bills we get from atms) mostly stay in my (slim) wallet now.

However, as a large coffee at Tims is $2 now, having a few toonies in the coin tray of the car is pretty ideal as well.
posted by bonehead at 12:12 PM on April 23


My favorite vacation souvenir is the elongated penny because it's cheap ($.51!) and portable. When we were last in Vancouver, the penny squishing machine at the Vancouver aquarium used American pennies!

For me, the loss of the souvenir (and I'm sure we'd figure out a workaround) would be the only downside to getting rid of the penny.
posted by vespabelle at 12:50 PM on April 23


honest question: why do you think Canada, Australia, the EU, and the UK all have thought it wise and best to make the change to one-and-two dollar/euro/pound coins?

It saves them a trivial amount of money and they're less concerned with annoying their citizens for a few years.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:00 PM on April 23


I don't believe I've seen a US dollar coin in the flesh, and I certainly have never been handed one with my change.

I used to work at a place where the vending machines accepted (and the change machines gave) Sacajawea dollars. I always wanted to get a big sack of them and go to a Ren Faire with a sack of gold coins.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:13 PM on April 23


> It saves them a trivial amount of money and they're less concerned with annoying their citizens for a few years.

No one was 'annoyed' by the loonie or the toonie since they were so obviously much better for use in vending machines. Every time I take a bus ride with cash in the US I commiserate with the driver bout the lack of take-up of dollar coins as I apologetically slide my crumply bills into the stupid machine and make everyone else wait. Back home I just toss my toonie into the big slot and we're on our way.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:22 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


One crazy thing the US could do (with as little warning as possible to prevent gaming) is to declare all pre-2015 coins are now worth 10x face value, and next years coins will be printed with the new values. Also stop printing $1 bills. So pennies are now $0.10, nickels $0.50, dimes $1, etc.

On the minus side, it would cause short term problems with coin operated machinery (vending machines, etc) needing to be recalibrated. One the plus side, a quick economic stimulus as jars of loose change are cashed in for useful.
posted by fings at 2:29 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Now, I'd probably take little perforated, connected strips of 5 $1 tokens that I could tear off as I needed them over heavier dollar coins, but but since those would have to be single-use they'd be even less cost-effective than dollar bills are.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:45 PM on April 23


Sure, right after we finish switching to the metric system!

Canada hasn't even done that yet...


Um. Canada converted to the metric system over the course of the 70s and 80s. Unless you meant how some Canadians still use imperial measures in an informal sense, which is true, but is also a generational thing. I have a much better sense of how far away 50 km is vs 50 miles. I have no sense of fahrenheit temperatures but I 'get' celsius no problem. A liquid ounce is a truly mystifying unit of measure for me, whereas millilitres and litres are just fine. I think I'm pretty typical for my age group (I'm 31).

Pounds, feet, and inches have hung around, probably because people routinely use them to describe the height and weight of their own bodies? I dunno.
posted by erlking at 2:53 PM on April 23


Also, I was a bit young when Canada switched to $1 coins (1987), but I remember the introduction of the $2 very well (1996), and it seemed to me that the consensus view was that it was really great and cool and awesome. Minimum annoyance. My only annoyance is that we settled on the dumb-sounding "toonie" when we could have had "doubloon."

Using paper bills in vending machines is just silly.
posted by erlking at 2:58 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


(turns out Newfoundland was ahead of everyone else; we had a two dollar coin between 1865 and 1888)
posted by erlking at 3:11 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Do men in countries (Canada, UK, Australia, etc.) that have dollar/pound coins really carry them around in their pockets all the time? I hate carrying coins and I feel like with my relatively cashless habits I would just end up dumping dollar coins in a change jar at home every time I get home (which is what I do with US coins now) because carrying coins for a guy is not fun. At least in the US, men's wallets aren't generally made to carry coins and we don't carry purses/bags with any sort of regularity and jingling coins in a pocket, especially suit or dress pants pockets, seems super inelegant.

I realize there are not mass pro-dollar-bill movements in these other countries so clearly the system is working. I guess I'm just a little baffled.
posted by andrewesque at 4:40 PM on April 23


I clear change out of my pockets at the end of the day, but I make most of my purchases using either a credit or debit card. Loonies and Toonies get deposited to a special piggy bank and the other change just accumulates in a random assortment of shot glasses and film canisters. The goal of the special piggy bank is that once it is full it pays for a small trip.

I think we don't go far enough in Canada. In Japan the smallest bill is the 1000 yen note (roughly $10). There is a 500 yen coin (roughly $5), then 100, 50, 10, 5 and 1. The 5 and 1 yen coins are useless and about the only use of the 10 yen coin is for vending machines and transit tickets. I had daily battles keeping the lower denominations in check. I think in Canada we should replace the 5 dollar bill with a coin.

For the USA, I think at this point you are better off going straight to IC cards or some other form of non-physical cash. Kind of like how developing countries bypassed widespread land lines and went straight to mobile phones.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:43 PM on April 23


Do men in Canada that has dollar coins really carry them around in their pockets all the time?

Sure! My current wallet has a small "coins" spot that I actually use for transit tokens, and two bill slots. Bills in one, coins in the other. I clean out the coins every few days, or when it's getting awkward. Right now I have about $12 in change, toonies/loonies and a few quarters. Which is enough to get a drink and a subway home in case of emergency.

Front pockets are big enough to hold a decent-sized wallet.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:25 PM on April 23


Pounds, feet, and inches have hung around, probably because people routinely use them to describe the height and weight of their own bodies? I dunno.

Canadians still cook with pounds, ounces, cups, tablespoons, ovens in Fahrenheit, and baking dishes in inches. Houses and apartments are in square feet, and nobody really knows how many hectares their property occupies, or even what a hectare is good for.

And all of the regularly-spaced roads west of Quebec that are based on public land surveys are separated by miles or fractions thereof.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:54 PM on April 23


As a Canadian in the U.S., ounces are still completely baffling. Especially when you throw in 'fluid ounces'. I'm also weirdly proud in that Canadian smugness sort of way that I still don't really know on an intuitive level how nice a day it will be if someone tells me what the temperature will be in Fahrenheit. Thank you iPhone weather app.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:12 PM on April 23


If you go to a supermarket in Canada, the meat and veg is priced in dollars per pound because the price per kilogram looks too scary. The exceptions are the deli or seafood sections where even the per pound price is too scary so they sell that stuff per 100 grams. Lately some of the big chains have started selling things by unit, like $2.00 per pork chop or $10.00 for a package of chicken, with the actual weight of the package either not present or in nearly invisible fine print, making comparison shopping impossible. Anything to obfuscate for a buck (or a loonie).
posted by islander at 9:22 PM on April 23


Especially when you throw in 'fluid ounces'.

A fluid ounce is about 30ml. It's called a fluid ounce because, to within kitchen accuracy, it's the volume of an ounce of pretty much any kitchen liquid except honey.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:31 PM on April 23


God damn I would love to get rid of then penny, and hell, the nickel as well, and add a dollar and two dollar coin. A quarter is still nominally money (although getting less so now that I don't need to pay for laundry), but any less than that and it's only change that takes years to build up in a jar and actually be worth anything. Hell, even cheap parking meters only give you a couple of minutes for a nickel.

Still, it weirds me out when I'm in Europe and realize that that pocketful of change I have at the end of a few days of buying stuff is actually a significant amount of money and that paying for stuff with coins, COINS! is actually reasonable.
posted by aspo at 9:42 PM on April 23


(Is this the right place to admit that when I'm scaling recipes, I convert everything to mL/g, do the math, then convert back to US units? It's a whole lot easier, but I feel like I'm cheating somehow.)
posted by bonehead at 9:47 PM on April 23


Canadians still cook with pounds, ounces, cups, tablespoons, ovens in Fahrenheit, and baking dishes in inches. Houses and apartments are in square feet, and nobody really knows how many hectares their property occupies, or even what a hectare is good for.

Fair enough on the square feet and the acres, but I'd counter that those are in the same category as people reporting their height and weight in lbs, feet, and inches.

I cook and bake all the time and, as I said, I find ounces confounding. Cups and table/teaspoons have become familiar through repetition, but ml and L are most intuitive (I have a handier sense of how much "250 ml" is than I do of "one cup," for instance, because I drank 250 ml cartons of milk at recess throughout my school years - easy). All of the measuring cups and measuring spoons I've used have metric printed right alongside the imperial. The same is true of cooking temperatures - my oven tells me the temperature in both fahrenheit and celsius, and I'm used to recipes that give both temperatures, as well.

Baking dishes are indeed still in inches.

And all of the regularly-spaced roads west of Quebec that are based on public land surveys are separated by miles or fractions thereof.

Surely that's a historical quirk based on when the land was surveyed. No one would expect, with the conversion to metric, for these roads to be torn up and rebuilt to reflect metric distances. The road signs all display distances and speed limits in kilometres, I assume?

Also, I would point out that the ~10.5 million people who live east of Ontario count as Canadians. Some of us have never even been west of Montreal!
posted by erlking at 7:36 AM on April 24


Also, I would point out that the ~10.5 million people who live east of Ontario count as Canadians.

Nobody was saying otherwise; I'm just not familiar with the history of land surveys in that part of Canada.

But anyway, imperial measures in cooking are definitely still preferred in Ontario. Ovens with anything but Fahrenheit are the exception and not the rule, at least in Toronto.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 12:24 PM on April 28


FWIW, all the land in the Prairies was divided by the Dominion Land Survey, which chunked all of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta into 1 square mile sections. This determined where farms were, where the church lands were, what land the railroads built in. Roads still follow these boundaries today and define the local townships. The west was built on the imperial surveying system. It's engraved in the landscape, still.
posted by bonehead at 12:36 PM on April 28


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