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Canadian currency evolves while the U.S. is stuck in the 1700s





Canada’s new $10 bill went into circulation this week, with civil rights activist Viola Desmond replacing Sir John A. Macdonald as the face of the banknote.

It is the first regular circulation Canadian bill to feature a woman who is not the Queen. Last year, Agnes Macphail, Canada’s first female MP, was featured on a commemorative $10 bill, with a limited number — 40 million bills — put into circulation.

The new bill also has Viola Desmond’s image in a vertical configuration, a first for a Canadian banknote.

“Well the vertical is new for Canada,” said Don Olmstead, a Canadian currency dealer with 40 years experience. “It’s not new in bank notes. The Swiss have been doing that and other countries have used vertical from time to time.”

It’s a significant change, but Canadians are used to change when it comes to our currency. The Bank of Canada frequently alters the look and design of our money, which Olmstead says is routine for most Western democracies.

Just last year, the image on the £10 note in England switched to Jane Austen from Charles Darwin. Before that, it was Charles Dickens and Florence Nightingale. The £10 note has even changed colour, from brown to orange.

America’s Founding Fathers reign supreme on U.S. currency

In the United States, bills have remained mostly unchanged for decades. Green has long been synonymous with that country’s currency and its bills are still made of paper.

Larry Allen is a professor of economics in Texas. He wrote a book called The Encyclopedia of Money and says George Washington ($1 bill), Alexander Hamilton ($10 bill) and Benjamin Franklin ($100 bill) will likely hold their place on America’s currency for years to come.

“They are called Founding Fathers,” said Allen, “They’re considered very important figures in the history of this country. They accomplished something many people [thought] could not have been done. So, short of deification, they are definitely put on a pedestal.”

America also continues to circulate the penny, even though it’s worth less than the cost of minting it. Allen admits there has been a debate about dropping the penny for years.

“But it’s going to be very difficult to get rid of Abraham Lincoln.”

The U.S. dollar is a ‘brand’ recognized around the world

Allen says reverence for the Founding Fathers may not be the only factor in America’s currency inertia. There’s also the global appeal of the U.S. greenback.

“In other parts of the world, people hold [U.S.] dollar bills as sort of a safe haven investment, particularly if a society is suffering from inflation or other problems like that.”

The newest $100 bill entered circulation in the U.S. in 2013, but Benjamin Franklin’s portrait remained unchanged. He has been the face of the bill for over 100 years. (Shutterstock )

Entire countries have even switched to the U.S. dollar as a way to fight hyperinflation.

And, more generally, American money is still a primary currency in global trade.

Currency dealer Don Olmstead says it’s become a brand, recognized around the world, and that’s not easy to change. But while the brand may be strong, the technology is lacking.

“Technologically, they are behind the world because polymer is the form of choice for currency and they’re still well behind that with no apparent plans to switch to polymer,” said Olmstead.

The U.S. is ‘politically paralyzed’ when it comes to currency changes

It’s an interesting contrast to the rapid pace of technological change in other areas of American life, says Olmstead. After all, Apple, Tesla and Amazon are all U.S. companies reshaping the fabric of society.

But that kind of change happens in the economic sphere and Olmstead says altering the face of the currency falls more on the political side.

“They just sit still. That’s why they still have the penny; they still use the paper dollar bill instead of the coin,” said Olmstead. “They’re politically paralyzed when there are simple, logical solutions and everyone is doing them.”

Olmstead says the outcry about removing a Founding Father would be far more pronounced, compared to the rather muted reaction Canadians had to losing Sir John A. Macdonald — the first Prime Minister of Canada — on the $10 bill.

Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, was the face of the Canadian $10 bill for nearly 50 years, since 1971. (Shutterstock)

But Author Larry Allen says the U.S. may not be as stuck as Olmstead describes.

He says many Americans are now well aware that historical figures such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin were slave owners and that’s reshaping the way people think about their country’s past.

“But probably not to the point … that they’re ready to take them off of a bill,” he concedes.


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Real Estate

The cost of renovating your bathroom in Toronto in 2021





Home renovations can be a big task, especially bathroom renovations where you have to work with either an awkwardly shaped space, or one with lots of pipework and very little natural light.

Nonetheless, getting a bathroom renovation by Easy Renovation to change your existing bathroom layout, improve the ambience or add more natural skylights can be worth all the trouble. But determining how much a bathroom renovation would cost is important while setting a budget.

The pandemic has changed a lot of things with social distancing rules, working from home, and for some, being made redundant. Therefore, having a complete grasp of the financial implication of a bathroom innovation is very important.

Owning your dream bathroom can be made a reality and the good thing is, regardless of your financial situation, there are always available options. If you also decide to put up your property for sale in the future, a bathroom upgrade would be a great investment—as it would add significant value to the property. Your bathroom renovation project, like every home renovation, can either be very affordable or extravagant, but one thing is certain, you’re bound to have a more refreshed, stylish and modernistic space.  

Looking through detailed sketches of luxurious and expensive bathrooms can be quite tempting, especially when you’re on a budget. However, your bathroom can be equally transformed into something that looks just as modern, stylish and refreshing but without the heavy price tag.

Conducting a partial bathroom renovation means you only have to change a little part of your existing bathroom rather than tearing it down and starting from scratch. If you intend to carry out this type of bathroom renovation in Toronto, depending on the size of your bathroom, you can spend between $1,000 – $5,000. With a partial bathroom renovation, you can save money by tackling smaller problems that exist in your present bathroom—or you can just upgrade a few of its features.

Partial bathroom renovations are quite affordable and would leave your bathroom feeling new and stylish without being time-consuming or a financial burden—which is important considering the economic impact of the pandemic. Repainting the bathroom walls, replacing the tiles on the floor and in the shower area are examples of partial bathroom renovations which is the cheapest to accomplish.

A more expensive and popular bathroom renovation is the standard 3- or 4-piece renovation. This renovation type involves a lot more services that are not covered by a partial renovation budget. To execute a standard bathroom renovation in Toronto you need a budget of about $10,000 – $15,000.

Unlike with a partial renovation, you would have to make a lot more changes to various elements of your bathroom without the hassle of changing the overall design. You can easily restore your current bathroom into a modernistic and classy space that fits your existing style. Making changes to more aspects of your bathroom is quite easy since there is more room in your budget to accommodate it.

A standard 3- or 4-piece renovation includes everything in a partial renovation plus extras such as revamped baseboards, installing a new bathroom mirror, buying new lights, installing a new vanity, changing the toilet, and buying new shower fixtures.

If you’re one of those looking to make a complete overhaul of your existing bathroom, then the option of a complete bathroom remodel is for you.

Unlike a bathroom renovation, remodelling means a complete change of your current bathroom design and layout for one that is newer and completely unrecognizable. The possibilities when remodelling a bathroom are endless especially when you have a large budget of over $15,000. That way, you can get the opportunity to create the perfect bathroom for yourself.

In addition to all that’s available with a standard bathroom renovation, bathroom remodelling allows you to make bathtub to shower conversion, relocation of plumbing, relocation of the toilet, reframing the bathroom and even relocating the shower.

In conclusion, a bathroom renovation can be a very important upgrade to your home and depending on the features that you decide to include, in addition to the size of your bathroom, this would influence the total cost of the project.

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Real Estate

7 Tips For First-Time Home Buyers In Calgary





Buying a house for the first time can be overwhelming to say the least. If you’re wondering what neighbourhood to go with, what you can afford, or even how to just get started on the process, let us take some stress off your hands! We’ve teamed up with Hopewell Residential to give you 7 tips to ensure the home you end up with is everything you dreamed of.

Hopewell Residential is a five-time Developer of the Year award winner, so their expertise is second-to-none in Calgary and beyond. Who better to learn home-buying tips from than the homebuilders themselves?

Create a checklist of needs & wants

This is a biggie. When you’re buying your very first home, you’ll want to weigh your needs vs. your wants. Ensuring you have what you love in your first home is a big, big deal.

What should you do? Easy. Set up a list of needs and a list of wants, but be pretty strict with yourself, and make sure you take your lifestyle into consideration. With the increase in remote work over the past year, it’s important to keep in mind that a home office or flex room might just be the key to maximizing at home happiness. Especially if you’re thinking you might be expanding your family later on, spare rooms and extra space is key (but more on that later!).

Or for instance, you might need a home in an area with a high walkability score, but you want to be close to certain amenities. Set yourself up with the right level of compromise and the number of homes that actually fit your ‘perfect’ idea will skyrocket.

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Real Estate

‘Don’t give up’: Ottawa Valley realtors share statistics, tips for homebuyers in ‘extreme’ sellers market





The real estate market in the Ottawa Valley can be summed up this way: people from far and wide are in a buying frenzy, but there’s hardly anything to buy at the “store,” and the limited inventory is overpriced.

This “stampede” — as one realtor described it — will affect rural towns as residents grapple with finding affordable housing and agonize over their inability to purchase homes in their price range.

“We are seeing a lack of inventory in all price ranges,” said Laura Keller, a real estate agent from Carleton Place.

Helen Vincent, a Renfrew realtor, said she’s never seen a market like this in her 36 years of practice. “We postpone offers for four to five days in order to get all the buyers,” she said.

Multiple offers — between seven and 10 — became the norm, with cash offers and no conditions, as buyers faced bidding wars. “In Ottawa, they have up to 50 (offers),” she added.

“It’s very stressful. You’re going to get nine (people) ticked off, and one happy. So many people are disappointed,” Vincent said.

Terry Stavenow, an Arnprior realtor for 40 years, said that “the pent-up need took over with inventory going low. It made a stampede on everything that was available.“

“Brand new housing — it’s very much gone. Several building developers are rushing to get inventory. They usually don’t do construction in the winter months,” said Stavenow.

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