When Lunenburg harbour was replaced by a goose

For years, the town of Lunenburg, N.S., occupied a place of pride on a valuable banknote. But it all came to an end when the Bank of Canada released a redesigned $100 bill in 1990.  

“This Lunenburg scene is worth at least 1,000 words about the way of life here,” said CBC reporter Susan Bonner. reporting for the Halifax local news on March 15 that year.

But it was no longer worth a place on the $100 bank note, which it had occupied since first being issued as part of the Scenes of Canada series. That was in 1976, according to the Bank of Canada website.

“The Bank of Canada is trading this scene for a goose,” added Bonner. (Rather, geese: the bill showed a single Canada goose in flight over water with a smaller V-shaped formation of geese behind it.)     

‘Another knock’

Lunenburg Mayor Lawrence Mawhinney thought it was “ridiculous” to trade his town’s image for a goose. (1st Edition/CBC Archives)

People in the South Shore town were struggling with the news that “one of the most famous Maritime scenes in Canada” was about to be relegated to postcards, paintings and a TV commercial for Anacin brand painkiller. 

“It was another knock against the Maritimes,” said Don Wilson, who was seated in front of a model schooner. “And now our tourism … is going to lose another symbol.” 

On a street downtown, a resident in a trenchcoat lamented that something was being “taken away from Lunenburg,” while another said she was “really disappointed.”

“It’s well recognized, and that’s where I think it should be, on the back of the $100 bill,” said a third.

For the mayor, it came down to a matter of pride. 

“I think the people here feel that somehow, it’s another rejection of the basic kinds of lifestyles that we have in Atlantic Canada,” said Lunenburg Mayor Lawrence Mawhinney.

All Canadian paper bills — from the $2 note to the $1,000 bill — were re-released starting in 1986 in the Birds of Canada series. The $1 bill was replaced with a coin instead.

Aside from the telephone poles, the harbour in Lunenburg, N.S., had been virtually unchanged for “hundreds of years,” said reporter Susan Bonner. (1st Edition/CBC Archives)

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