The celebration of a landmark Canadian scientific expedition
continues with circulating coins.
The Royal Canadian Mint on Nov. 22 launched two new 25-cent coins,
each available in two versions, to mark the centennial of the 1913 to
1916 Canadian Arctic Expedition and life in northern Canada.
One 25-cent coin carries a reverse design from Bonnie Ross already
used for Canada’s annual Brilliant Uncirculated, Proof and Specimen
The design shows three explorers and a dogsled team in the
foreground, preparing “to take their first north-bound steps into
uncharted territory,” according to the RCM. An antique compass fills
the background. Ross’s BR initials, the inscriptions ARCTIC EXPEDITION
1913-2013 EXPÉDITION DANS L’ARCTIQUE and the denomination complete the design.
The other 25-cent coin features a design from native Inuit artist
Tim Pitsiulak of Kinngait (Cape Dorset), Nunavut. His “Life in the
North” features a central design of two beluga whales and a stylized
bowhead whale, with the artist’s syllabic initials in Inuktitut below
the image. Arcing around the rim of the coin, in silhouette, is a
scene of kayaks and a traditional Inuit whaling boat in pursuit of a
breaching bowhead whale.
The central image of the bowhead whale displays a large Dorset
Culture ivory mask on its dorsal side, which, along with smaller
depictions on its lower jaw, represents the Tuniit (paleo-Eskimos) who
migrated from Siberia across the Bering Straight into North America.
An amauti design on the tail represents hooded clothing worn by Inuit
women, while an igloo pattern adorns its midsection, and the Thule
ivory comb on its head symbolizes Inuit expansion across Canada,
according to the RCM.
The inscriptions CANADA and 25 CENTS and date 2013 also appear on
the reverses of both coins.
The coins’ obverses depict the Susanna Blunt effigy of Queen
The coins were unveiled in ceremonies in both Victoria, British
Columbia, and in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut.
The 1913 to 1916 scientific expedition was jointly organized by
the Geological Survey of Canada and the Naval Service, bringing
together experts in anthropology, biology and the earth sciences.
A northern party mapped the western Arctic coast and adjacent
islands, and a southern party explored the geology, resources and
native inhabitants of the northern mainland.
Traveling by ship and dogsled, the team braved multiple hardships.
Seventeen of its members died during the expedition.
Twenty-five million of the 25-cent commemorative circulating coins
are being issued through the RCM’s national coin distribution network,
with the mintage evenly split between the two designs (12.5 million
Each design will be available in two combinations of frosted
accents, in mintages of 6.25 million coins for each frosting version.
The Royal Canadian Mint’s Senior Manager of Communications, Alex
Reeves, said that special frosting was chosen for the coins because
the designs didn’t lend themselves to coloring, a technique the RCM
has employed for other recent commemorative 25-cent coins.
On one version of the Arctic coin, the elements of the compass are
frosted, including its rim and parts of the compass rose. This makes
the compass the focal point, and gives the frosted elements a
On the other version of the Arctic coin, the men on the coin are
frosted, making them the focal point.
Frosting on one of the Life in the North coins appears on both
beluga whales and the bottom part of the Bowhead whale’s jaw. This
makes the two beluga whales the focal point, and give the frosted
elements a whitish-gray look.
On the other Life in the North coin, the bowhead whale’s body is
selectively frosted, making the larger whale the focal point of this coin.
The RCM offered Canadian residents the opportunity to buy a
limited number of the coins at face value, in 12-coin packs (six of
each design) priced at $3 per pack, with free shipping, when ordered
A Matte Proof .9999 fine silver $3 coin bearing Pitsiulak’s Life
in the North design (without the inscriptions of the 25-cent coin
version) is also available. With a mintage limit of 10,000 pieces, the
7.96-gram coin retails for $34.95 Canadian.
For more details, visit the RCM’s website, www.mint.ca, or phone
the RCM at 800-267-1871. ■