Claim: The Canadian $2 bill (or $5 bill or $10 bill) depicts the U.S. flag flying over Parliament.
Origins: It's difficult to maintain a national identity in a country where nearly all of the inhabitants live within a few miles of the USA, so you can hardly blame Canadians for sometimes feeling that Americans are infiltrating every last aspect of their culture. A tangible expression of this feeling occurred during the 1980s, when every time the Bank of Canada introduced currency with new designs, somebody managed to find American flags hidden in the artwork.
The fun began with the introduction of a new $5 bill in May 1986:
Since May, the Bank of Canada has issued repeated denials over allegations that the flag is not the Canadian flag or that it is the American flag.
The matter of the flag on the $5 bill was the subject of considerable discussion in the House of Commons before the summer break. During the June 17 debate on the introduction of Canada's new
"There was a concern," said Nunziata, "that it might in fact have been the American flag flying over the old Parliament buildings. We considered this to be an item of national concern so we pulled out the magnifying glass and took a very close
The introduction of a new $2 bill in September 1986 brought claims that it, too, depicted an American flag flying over Parliament (a claim which continues to circulate widely on one of those ubiquitous Internet lists of unusual "facts"), but as the inset in the image below shows, the flag in question is clearly Canada's current national flag, the Maple Leaf Flag:
Three years later, when the Bank of Canada introduced a new $10 bill, the same old rumor was trotted out yet again (perhaps spurred by the implementation of the
The message is in the flag behind Sir John A. MacDonald's head, said David Mayor, spokesman for Survival Canada.
The group believes the tiny flag on the new bill — which came into circulation
"Next thing you know, we'll be the 51st star on the American flag," Mayor said. "Nothing should be flying above Parliament besides the Canadian red maple leaf flag."
Frightened Americans used to look for Soviet Communists under their beds. Who'd have thought Canadians would top that by looking for American flags over their Parliament?
Last updated: 1 July 2014
Aaron, Robert. "Sparks Fly Over Flag on New $5 Bill." The Toronto Star. 6 September 1986 (p. L9). Kearney, Mark. The Great Canadian Trivia Book. Toronto: Hounslow Press, 1996. ISBN 0-88882-188-3 (p. 37). MacKay, Barry Kent. "Is It for the Birds? Do New Bills Mean We're Bound for Old Glory?" The Toronto Star. 6 August 1989 (p. E7). The Toronto Star. "Our Flag on $10 Bill Looks Like That of U.S., Free Trade Foes Charge." 6 July 1989 (p. A1).