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The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 2, January 11, 2009, Article 26


Jon Radel submitted this note on an alternative currency I hadn't heard of yet – Salt Spring Dollars. Some of our E–Sylum articles got him interested in the topic. –Editor
I do believe it was a mention of Lewes Pounds which sucked me in....

My research has not progressed to the point where I can say anything much more coherent about Salt Spring Dollars than the Salt Spring Island Monetary Foundation has to say for itself at

It appears that the currency was somewhat more oriented towards promoting this island in British Columbia in the gulf between Vancouver Island and the U.S., rather than the experimentation with local monetary policy some groups focus on.

Salt Springs One Dollar
Salt Springs One Dollar Back

I've contacted at least one of the local groups and gotten the sense that collectors and outside interest are both somewhat disdained. Despite this, it appears the currency is actively used on the island and not just something to sell to the collectors.

See also for somebody who has actually assigned catalog numbers.....

The Monetary Foundation is happy to let you know that the Bank of Canada saw fit to mention them in Appendix B: Alternative Money in A History of the Canadian Dollar. See

Here are some excerpts from the Salt Spring Dollars web site. –Editor

The concept of Salt Spring Island Dollars was the result of roundtable discussions of the Sustainable Salt Spring Island Coalition. In the fall of 2000, the group was looking at different island nations around the world (Isle of Man, Jersey, Cayman Islands, etc.) examining how their governments and economies functioned. One of the common factors of these islands was that they each had their own local currency.

Two questions arose – would it be possible to establish a local currency for Salt Spring, and if so, how could it benefit the community?

Having identified these problems, it was decided any solutions must address all of these concerns. Several brainstorming sessions later, an idea surfaced that provided an answer directly and indirectly, to all of the major problems. It was suggested that if our currency had a two year expiry date, any bills that had not been redeemed by the expiry date (e.g. collected, left the island, lost, etc.) would represent a "profit."

By creating a profit, to cover costs, it would be possible to have the currency go into circulation through a one–to-one exchange with the Canadian dollar. This meant it could be backed 100% by the Canadian dollar. To our knowledge this had never been done by any local currency, anywhere in the world.

On July 17th, 2001, the SS IMF was registered with the Province of British Columbia. It's mission statement is as follows: "The purposes of the Society are to design, issue and maintain a local currency for Salt Spring Island with the goal of raising funds for worthwhile community projects while promoting local commerce and goodwill."

Following the formation of the IMF, major institutions (Island Savings Credit Union, CIBC, Bank of Montreal, Canada Post, SSI Chamber of Commerce, etc.) on the Island were approached with the concept. With these institutions lending their support to this community initiative, it came to pass that Salt Spring Dollars are now available and accepted on Salt Spring on the same basis as the national currency. The Salt Spring Island Dollars were introduced to the Island on September 15th, 2001, at Salt Spring's largest annual gathering, the Farmer's Institute's Fall Fair.

The Salt Springs folks really did their research – their web site has a great page describing other local currencies in use throughout Canada, the United States, and Mexico. –Editor

To learn about other local currencies in North America, see: Other local currencies (

Wayne Homren, Editor

Google NBS ( Web

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