Canadian penny bites the dust. Is the nickel next?

Canada's mint stops distributing the cent, citing cost and inconvenience, and leaving Crave's Tim Hornyak feeling a bit nostalgic. Some want the nickel to disappear too.

An obsolete coin for your thoughts: Google.ca paid tribute to the Canadian penny, which was first struck in 1858. Google

We Canadians love innovating our money. We're printing plastic banknotes and chucking out useless coins.

Last March I said I wouldn't mourn the passing of the Canadian penny .

And yet today, as the Royal Canadian Mint officially stopped distributing the cent to banks, I have mixed feelings. I saw the Google.ca animated doodle honoring the coin and felt a tad nostalgic.

So I fished out a few pennies from my pockets and considered the brazen image of Queen Elizabeth and the maple leaf.

There's something a little Dickensian in these worn coppers. The oldest on my desk is from 1977. The surface is dull and the queen looks a lot younger.

That coin passed through many hands only to wind up in mine. It's got a real-world history that makes it special.

Electronic money, and e-books for that matter, don't have that historicity, that unique physical existence through time.

While I'm glad to see the penny go, I also feel like I'm losing a tiny link to my fellow human beings, a connection I only really thought of now. Not to mention all those folksy idioms like "the penny drops."

For those who get dewy-eyed over its demise, the mint is offering 20,000 commemorative 50-cent rolls of the last million pennies manufactured.

Meanwhile, 99-cent sales could go out of fashion, since prices for cash sales are being rounded to the nearest nickel. Prices that end in 1 or 2 are rounded down to zero, those ending in 3, 4, 6, or 7 are rounded to 5, and those ending in 8 or 9 are rounded up to 10.

The mint was spending 1.6 cents on every penny it made until production ended last May; axing the coin is expected to save some $11 million. Canada follows New Zealand and Australia in stopping production of the penny.

While the billions of Canadian pennies still in circulation will be legal tender indefinitely, some are calling for the nickel to go too, though there has been some pushback with that idea.

"It shouldn't be as tough as a slog now because the case has been made that life as we know it isn't going to end if we eliminate the lowly penny," NDP member of Parliament Pat Martin was quoted as saying in the National Post.

Life hasn't ended, but I feel for all those penny pinchers out there.

 

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