Of Early Money in British Columbia, Part II–Bank of MacDonald Paper Issues

Five dollar bill from MacDonald Bank

Subsequent to my previous post, I learned a few new details of the monetary situation in BC before the colony joined confederation. According to a course I’m taking from the Canadian Numismatic Association, in western Canada, “little coined money was used before 1870….Barter was used everywhere.”

As far as coined money goes, the Canadian Numismatic Journal (Nov. 2004, vol. 9, p. 474) lists only eighteen pieces of known BC gold and silver currency, with no photographs. After a brief family holiday to Victoria last week, I can add a few photographs of my own from the Royal British Columbia Museum. These photographs show two bills in the five-dollar and ten-dollar denominations. They were both issued by “MacDonald & Co. Bankers” for the colony of “VANCOUVERS ISLAND”. The MacDonald Bank, of course, was not unique in issuing paper money, the same situation having occurred in eastern Canada in the years previous.

The ten dollar bill is below. The thumbnail following that links to the original photograph I took showing both bills and the caption. I hope readers and viewers will enjoy the pictures of these historic pieces of early British Columbian money.

As far as I can see, the first note says, “We promise to pay the Bearer on demand at our Office [next word uncertain: “here” ?] the sum of Five Dollars for value received [?] 6 [?] Sept. 1863.” Anyone who wishes, please leave a comment with your readings!

Ten dollar bill from the MacDonald Bank


Click on the thumbnail for a very large image showing both bills with a caption from the Royal Museum of British Columbia. The picture that comes up may be enlarged again.