World Coins

Canada unveils 150th anniversary circulating coins

The Royal Canadian Mint on Nov. 2 un­veiled the 2017 circulating commemorative coin designs that are intended to celebrate the anniversary of Confederation in 1867. 

This is the third occasion Canadian coin­age marks a national anniversary with com­memorative circulating designs: the 1967 and 1992 anniversaries were also recognized. 

Members of the Canadian public cast more than 1 million votes online to select the five new designs, for the 5-cent to $2 coins. The cent was eliminated in 2012, and the 50-cent coin does not circulate.

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Thousands of Canadians took part in the My Canada, My Inspiration national contest, which began March 11, 2015. Designs were sought across five theme perspectives: Our Wonders, Our Character, Our Achievements, Our Passions, and Canada’s Future.

The finalists in each category were deter­mined by the RCM and a panel of notable Canadians. The winning design per category was selected by Canadians in an online vote  that took place in September 2015. The RCM conducted simultaneous unveiling ceremonies in the communities of each winning coin designer, as well as online through Facebook. 

A rendition of a beaver remains on the 2017 5-cent coin, designed by graphic designer Gerald Gloade. Gloade created the design entirely with digital tools. 

“His interpretation of this iconic national symbol fuses the traditional with the new and celebrates the importance of First Nations culture to Canada,” according to the RCM.

“I’ve always treasured the Alex Colville-designed set of centennial coins that I received as a young boy and having the chance to leave your own mark on a Canadian circulation coin is an amazing way to be involved in the celebration of Canada 150,” Gloade said. “As a proud Mi’kmaw, I was inspired to re-imagine the beaver of our traditional five-cent coin through the eyes of my own First Nations culture.”

The theme is “Our Passions.” 

Gloade’s “dynamic and spiritual illustration” of a solitary beaver was influenced by his northeastern woodland Algonkian heritage and the wildlife theme of Canada’s 1967 commemorative centennial coins, according to the RCM.

New 10-cent coin 

A maple leaf, once on the now-ousted 1-cent coin, makes a triumphant return to Canada’s coinage on the 2017 10-cent coin.

Amy Choi’s reverse celebrates the theme “Our Character.”

“My coin design expresses the hope that, one day, the offering of the maple leaf will be as symbolic as the offering of an olive branch,” Choi said. “Since Canada is known world-wide for its desire to pro­mote peace, cooperation and diversity, I was moved to combine the maple leaf and the dove as my way to show what I admire most about my country.”

Choi is not a trained artist, but created the design (titled “Wings of Peace”) so that the maple leaf forms the wings and tail of a dove. 

Child’s 25-cent coin 

The design slated for the 25-cent coin was created by an artist who was at the time only 8 years old.

Joelle Wong’s design celebrates the “Canada’s Future” theme. 

An animal lover and nature enthusiast, Wong worked with one of her teachers to research Canadian wildlife and indigenous art techniques to develop her painting of animals commonly represented in aboriginal culture. A turtle, bird and beaver, all decorated with aboriginal patterns, reach toward a plant growing out from a pair of hands to symbolize how all Canadians are connected in protecting Canada’s nature.

The design replaces the stand­ard design of a caribou.

Dollar coin 

For the design on the reverse of the new $1 coin, designer Wesley Klassen found inspiration in childhood memories of family vacations, illustrating iconic engineering achievements that Canadian railroads connect. 

His design features the railroad and landmarks such as the Lion’s Gate Bridge, a prairie grain elevator, the CN Tower, Quebec City’s majestic Chateau Frontenac Hotel and an East Coast lighthouse. The standard Canadian dollar features a loon, which gives the coin its “Loonie” nickname

“I chose images that are in one way or another connected to the railroad, for which all Canadians can be forever grateful,” Klassen said in a press release.

Klassen’s design matches the theme of “Our Achievements.” 

Northern Lights shine 

Though not limited to Canada, the natural wonder known as the Northern Lights “embodies Canada’s unity and beauty,” said Timothy Hsia, designer of the 2017 $2 coin that depicts the Lights.

“The northern lights are a true Canadian wonder, one that all Canadians from sea to sea can appreciate and call their own,” he said, adding, “I titled my design ‘Dance of the Spirits’ after how the Cree people attribute the northern lights to the special moment when the spirits manifest themselves, dancing, to the human eyes and minds below. I am thrilled that so many fellow Canadians share this sense of wonder I feel for Canada and her glorious nature.”

The $2 coin celebrates the theme “Our Wonders.”

“Dance of the Spirits” shows a pair of paddlers dwarfed by a night sky alive with the ever-shifting movement of the Aurora Borealis. The paddlers pause and gaze at the mesmerizing scene unfolding above them. 

The regular $2 coin features a polar bear in an Arctic setting.

Each 2017 circulation coin denomination will feature one of the winning designs and Canadians will be able to find the coins in their change next spring.

The obverse of each coin, based on images released, will continue to feature the Susanna Blunt effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, but with the addition of the CANADA 150 logo beneath the bust.

The Mint is also launching an extensive collector coin program in celebration of Canada 150. Though the circulation coins aren’t available yet, the 2017 Silver Proof set, containing a special gold-plated silver dollar and pure silver versions of the five circulating designs and a specially designed 50-cent coin, is now available. 

The 2017 silver dollar shows a map of the nation with the maple leaf flag as well as legends marking the anniversary. The set’s 50-cent coin bears the CANADA 150 logo. 

The special Silver Proof set has a product limit of 20,000 sets and retails for $229.95 Canadian.

Pre-sale of the set is underway; delivery begins Dec. 6. Interested customers can buy the set now at 

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