Hello, Iceland!

Canada here! Your friends to the … what is it, west? North west? Who knows?

Unnur Birna Vilhjálmsdóttir, Miss World 2005, is from Iceland.

So, how’s the weather? Cold? I mean, with your name and all, I just assumed…

Sorry for the terrible introduction. It’s just that I’ve never written to you before, or even thought about you for that matter. We are accustomed to other countries not even thinking about us, so you can relate. Actually, it’s kind of refreshing to realize that there are countries with even lower profiles than ours! You might even say that you’re the Canada of Europe. (You are in Europe, right?)

So, we’ve read in our newspapers that you might want to adopt my currency. Wow! I’m flattered. I mean, up until a few years ago, my currency was worth even less than yours. Back in 2002, my dollar was worth only 62 cents US! But, as you clearly know, my dollar — which we call the ‘loonie’ — is now pretty much on par with the U.S. greenback, or even higher sometimes. We are quietly proud of that, for some reason.

So, you want to adopt my currency, eh? (Get used to that.) I know your currency took quite a beating when you tried to convert your economy from fish-based to bank scam-based. I know you’re still recovering. Your dollar, the kronur, soared 90 per cent between 2001-07, then crashed 92 per cent in 2008. That’s gotta hurt.

Now we hear some of your big economic thinkers (both of them), want to adopt my currency as your official currency. But if you use our money, I guess you should learn a few things about it. So here goes.

First, our coins are pretty basic. We still have a penny (with the maple leaf on it), which is mostly a pain in the ass that is so worthless, we actually have trays at our stores were you can leave your pennies behind. Believe me, you don’t want to have anything to do with pennies. They multiply like rabbits.

Then we have the five-cent piece, the nickel, which features the beloved Canadian rodent, the beaver. The beaver had a huge role in Canada’s history, but today we spend most of our time trying to get rid of them. Kind of a mixed message there. The 10-cent piece, the dime, has a big ship on it, called the Bluenose. What was the Bluenose, you ask? Don’t worry about it; there isn’t one Canadian in a million who knows what the Bluenose was.

The 25-cent piece has an elk on it, almost like that great Monty Python joke name, Anne Elk. (My other favourite Monty Python name is Tarquin Fim Bim Lim Bim Wim Bim Bus Stop F’tang-F’tang Ole Biscuit Barrel. Not really relevant, but I just like it.) Our mint likes to play with quarters, however, so you are likely to see depictions of people curling (that’s another story), or other such oddities. There are so many different looks to quarters, it’s best just to accept them without question.

Then there’s the dollar coin, the ‘loonie’ , and the two-dollar coin, the ‘twonie’. No one has officially decided how to spell either name, so don’t ask. All coins have an old broad on the back, the Queen of England. Seriously. The Queen of England. Hey, it’s a long story.

Our paper money is quite colourful. The five has a guy named Sir Wilfred Laurier, our first French prime minister (Quebec French, not France French). The $10 bill has Sir John A. Macdonald, our first prime minister and big time drunk. Our $20 has that old lady again (man, it’s like she’s a queen or something, ha ha), and the $50 has a guy named Mackenzie King, who was our longest service prime minister, at something like 95 years (who remembers these things?). Now, you’ll love the $100 bill. The guy on it is Borden, or Gorden, I’m not sure which, but the bill is super cool. It’s made of a polymer that is pretty much indestructible. It even has a clear, see through part. Very cool. Even Iceland’s famed forgers won’t be able to copy it. (OK, I’m sorry about that forgers crack. I’m just guessing that Icelanders have to be famous for something.)

Now you know, of course, that you will have to give up your currency. That means no more portraits of Brynjolfur Sveinsson, the 17th century Lutheran bishop. And goodbye to Arni Magnusson, the 17thcentury scholar, and painter Johannes Sveinsson Kjarval. (By the way, why not put Unnur Birna Vilhjálmsdóttir, Miss World 2005, on a bill? Your currency would become a worldwide collectors’ item.) And I notice that pretty much every coin has a fish on it. That’s gotta go.

Anyway, Iceland, we appreciate your interest. Let’s get together and talk about it. Say, Tim Hortons next Thursday?

What do you mean, ‘what’s a Tim Hortons?’




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