We would like to thank the Bank of Canada for its collaboration

Highlighting knowledge

    The Apprentis Numismatists are proud to unveil the 5th issue of the "Symbole du Québec" series. The choice fell on the oldest university in Quebec which is celebrating its 200th anniversary: ​​University of McGill College.

    Indeed, 200 years ago, in 1821, University of McGill College officially obtained its royal charter signed by King George IIII (sic).

   As with previous notes, the spirit of the times has been respected. The Apprentis Numismates were inspired by the 1821-dollar bill of the Montreal Bank. It should be noted that during this period, before Confederation, financial instruments were mainly written in English. This is a characteristic that we wanted to keep. It should be noted that the Apprentis Numismates operates mainly in French. This is why you will notice that the 2021 note is bilingual. It is also a reference to McGill University, which now offers courses in both official languages.

McGill College

1821 - Birth of the university

   One of the oldest universities in Canada, McGill was founded in 1821 through a bequest from James McGill. Before his death, this generous benefactor bequeathed 10,000 pounds sterling and his magnificent property, Burnside Place, a 46-acre estate located on the slopes of Mount Royal in Montreal, for the foundation of a university. The “University of McGill College” was established by Royal Charter on March 21, 1821.

James McGill

   James McGill was born October 6, 1744 in Glasgow (Scotland) and died suddenly on December 19, 1813 in Montreal during the War of 1812-1814. He was a businessman (fur and ammunition trade), a philanthropist, a soldier and a statesman. Elected to the Lower Canada House of Assembly in 1792, 1800 and 1804, he is the founder of McGill University. By his contemporaries, he was considered the richest man in Montreal.


    Although the university obtained its royal charter in 1821, it was not until June 24, 1829 that Burnside Place officially opened its doors under the name of McGill College, the time to settle problems with one of the heirs, Francis Desrivières, nephew of Mr. McGill. As soon as it opened, the college concluded an agreement to make the “Montreal Medical Institution” its faculty of medicine. Finally, on September 6, 1843, twenty students entered the new arts pavilion. This is the first day of class at McGill College, a historic moment that will have taken thirty years to come true.

   It should be noted that the 1821 note had only one element in French: the name “UNE PIASTRE” in the right panel, which was our main inspiration for making a bilingual note. We have also kept the original name of the university, "University of McGill College", which we have placed in the center of the French and English versions.

    Some elements of the original note have been modified. You will see, among other things, that the format, although more or less the same, is now 75 mm x 175 mm. The numbers "200" and their equivalents "DEUX CENTS" and "TWO HUNDRED" as well as the theme "SYMBOLE DU QUEBEC" are inserted in the side borders.

    It is a period painting from McGill University that replaces the naval scene with Britannia, in the center at the top of the note. In the center at the bottom of the original note, we find a composition of the denomination "ONE" with in the center a one piastre coin which was equivalent to a Spanish 8 real coin of Emperor Charles IIII (sic). This composition has been adapted to read "200", the two "0" of which have been replaced by a period token from the "Bank of Montreal" as well as by a British shilling of 1821 with the effigy of King George IIII (sic). These two elements obviously refer to the original issuing bank of the note as well as to the sovereign who signed the charter. We also see that we have replaced “Reed & Stiles”, printers of the original note, by “Apprentis Numismates”.

Uniface Note of Montreal Bank - 1821

2021 Note - McGill College

Back of the Note

   The original 1821 Montreal Bank note was uniface. To maintain this particularity, we decided not to write anything on the back of our note, at least nothing that is visible to the naked eye! Using an ultra-violet lamp, you will be able to discover the coat of arms of McGill University with its Latin motto "GRANDESCUNT AUCTA LABORE" (By work, all things increase and grow). We also notice in the coat of arms, the open book at the top with the inscription "IN DOMINO CONFIDO" (I confide in the Lord).

The 2021 Note

As in the past, the number of notes issued corresponds to the anniversary we want to celebrate. Thus, 200 notes were printed. Serial numbers range from 0001 to 0200, including the radar note 0110. Of this number, five (5) uncut sheets are also available to collectors. Each of these sheets includes three (3) sequential notes ranging from 0186 to 0200.