OTTAWA - The Bank of Canada is set to unveil its latest plastic bank notes this week — but documents show some people found one of the new bills too "cartoonish" and the other too old-fashioned.

Focus groups consulted about the proposed images for the new bank note series thought the space motif of the new $5 bill looked childish.

"There is a perception that the note looks 'cartoonish' or too-child like," says a 2009 report commissioned by the bank from The Strategic Counsel, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

Others were left scratching their heads over the depiction of "Dextre," a Canadian robotic handyman on board the International Space Station. Some people wrongly assumed Dextre was the name of an astronaut shown on the bill, while others had no clue who the name referred to.

"Dextre is not recognized — although once explained, it is accepted as an element of Canada's contribution to space technology that should be kept," the report says.

"The image of the space station is not recognized. It is confused with a concept drawing."

But if some people were stumped by the space-age technology on the $5 bill, others complained the train on the new $10s looked too quaint.

"Significance of the image to Canada is immediately understood — participants acknowledge that the railway was the key to linking Canada and played an important role in the development of Canada as a nation," the report says.

"However, while the image is seen as attractive, many do not find it inspiring or motivating. It is seen as an archetypal image of Canada's past — standard or expected."

Under a section labelled "dislikes / concerns," the report adds the train "illustrates a mode of travel that many now find outdated or cost prohibitive."

The train also struck a nerve with focus groups in Atlantic Canada, where many rail lines have been decommissioned.

"The train no longer fully traverses Canada," the report says. "In particular, those in the East feel that it underscores that their railway links have been decommissioned."

There were also some who felt the train motif hearkened back to the treatment of Chinese labourers who helped build the trans-Canada railway.

"For a few, brings up human rights issues with the development of the railway."

The Bank of Canada declined comment on the focus group report.

The new $5 and $10 bills are scheduled to be unveiled Tuesday and will go into circulation later this year.

This is not the first time focus groups have raised concerns about images on the new polymer notes.

Outgoing Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney apologized last year after The Canadian Press reported that the image of an Asian woman was purged from the original design for new $100 bank notes after some focus groups raised questions about her ethnicity.

Other focus groups thought they saw some offbeat images on the polymer $50 and $100 bank notes that went into circulation in 2011.

One Vancouver group thought an image on the $100 of a researcher at a microscope and a depiction of the double-helix structure of DNA was a sex toy.

Other focus groups thought they saw religious iconography on the face of the Peace Tower clock.

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  • Bank of Montreal Dollar - 1825

    Until the mid-19th century, Canada's future provinces used the "Canadian pound." Bit by bit, various jurisdictions began to switch to a metric system, and with it came the concept of the Canadian dollar. This Bank of Montreal-issued dollar bill is among the first bills called a dollar to have been printed.

  • Bank of Montreal Dollar - 1859

    Various banks printed their own currency until eventually the Bank of Montreal was charged with being the official issuer of the Canadian dollar, a practice that stayed in place until the Bank of Canada was created in the 1930s.

  • Bank of Toronto Dollar - 1859

    The Bank of Toronto (today known as TD Bank) was among many banks that issued Canadian dollars in the second half of the 19th century.

  • Ontario Bank Dollar - 1861

    Image courtesy of the Bank of Canada.

  • Province of Canada Dollar - 1866

    The province of Canada comprised Ontario and Quebec and existed from 1841 to 1867. It issued its own currency. Image courtesy of Bank of Canada.

  • Dominion of Canada Dollar - 1870

    With confederation in 1867, the first truly national Canadian dollar came into being. Image courtesy of the Bank of Canada.

  • Dominion of Canada Dollar - 1898

    Image courtesy of the Bank of Canada.

  • Dominion of Canada Dollar - 1911

    Image courtesy of the Bank of Canada.

  • Dominion of Canada Dollar - 1917

    Image courtesy of the Bank of Canada.

  • Dominion of Canada Dollar - 1923

    Image courtesy of the Bank of Canada.

  • Bank of Canada Dollar - 1935

    The Bank of Canada took over the issuance of currency from the Bank of Montreal when it was created in the 1930s. Image courtesy of the Bank of Canada.

  • Bank of Canada Dollar - 1937

    Image courtesy of the Bank of Canada.

  • Canada Dollar - 1954

    The 1954 dollar was the first to feature Queen Elizabeth II and the first to simply say "Canada" on it, rather than featuring the name of a bank, province or referring to the country as a "dominion."

  • Centennial Dollar - 1967

    Image courtesy of the Bank of Canada.

  • Canada Dollar - 1973

    This was the last paper dollar issued in Canada. It was in circulation until 1987, when the loonie replaced it. Image courtesy of the Bank of Canada.

  • The Loonie - 1987

    The loonie replaced the one-dollar bill in Canada in 1987. Image: CP

  • Canada 125 Loonie - 1992

    The Mint issued a special edition of the loonie in 1992 to commemorate the country's 125th birthday.

  • Vancouver Olympics Loonie - 2010

    An Inuit inukshuk graced the tail of this loonie issued in 2010 to coincide with the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.

  • The Loonie - Anniversary Special - 2012

    The Royal Canadian Mint issued a special-edition version of the loonie in 2012 to commemorate the coin's 25th anniversary. Image: Royal Canadian Mint.