Money is any medium of exchange used to pay for goods and services. Money is an instrument created to more efficiently conduct business. Before there was money, there was a barter system. Barter was awkward and inefficient. Suppose you had an orange tree and were willing to trade some oranges for a pair of shoes. Unless the shoemaker wanted the oranges, you could not barter for the shoes. With the advent of money, it became a more common denominator for buying goods and services.

Throughout the centuries many different commodities have been used as money. Money traces back thousands of years. North American Indians used a string of white shells (Wampum) as their currency. The Chinese fashioned crude coins out of base metals. Eventually, precious metals like gold and silver became the accepted norm for coins. The forerunner of modern money began in the early 19th century with the issuance of bank notes.

There is one single commodity considered money for several thousand years and that is gold. If you ask the average person on the street what is money, they will most likely answer that the official country's currency is money. However there is one serious problem with all fiat currencies – they are not backed by anything, except government's promise, which is worth less and less every day.

Banks, both small and large created their own banknotes. As people became more mobile and traveled greater distances, banknotes from individual banks had less relevance. Eventually, it was decided that there should be one standard currency to make conducting business and trade easier. In 1934, the Bank of Canada was formed and became the sole agency for issuing paper currency. Banknotes from different entities were phased out in the next few years.

Paper currency soon became the first choice for conducting business. Now that it was standardized, it was a lot more practical than carrying around a sack of gold or silver. However, gold would still play an important role in Canadian money. Perhaps Canada's greatest contribution to the world's currency came in 1979 with the minting of the one ounce gold Mapleleaf. The coin was originally a small project but soon became one of the most desired and accepted coins in the world. Coin collectors and investors in gold, to this day, still request the Mapleleaf.

Our society is quickly transitioning away from the use of paper money to buy and sell goods and services. Beginning with the first credit cards, transactions without using physical cash have been growing steadily. With the recent economic turmoil, many people have questioned the strength of our money system. Some call for a return to the Gold Standard. Others cite too much credit as the downfall of the system.

The more enlightened are looking to the future. Electronic payments, debit cards and online banking are now the norm. It is more efficient to pay for everything with the swipe of a card. Someday, in the not too distant future, money will only be an abstract concept. Who knows, a dollar may be worth something - as a collector's item!