World Coins

RCM Canada Day celebration includes royal visit

Excitement was in the air July 1 in the Canadian capital of Ottawa. Yes, it was Canada Day, but Ottawa residents and visitors were even more excited than usual because Canada had special guests for the festivities, the most famous of newlyweds — the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, known around the world as “Will and Kate.”

With the couple’s visit, the Royal Canadian Mint decided to give a royal flavor to its Canada Day activities. It addition to the traditional free face painting and catwalk tours of the facility, the RCM put on display some of its most beautiful coins that celebrate Canada’s close ties with the British and Canadian royalty.

A tent adjacent to the RCM’s front door housed a large board that showed a time line illustrated by images of Canadian monarchs on coins struck by the Mint: Queen Victoria, King Edward VII, King George V, King George VI, and Queen Elizabeth II. The current monarch was represented with images from the reverses of the $15 coins of the “Vignettes of Royalty Series”), the laureate bust of Elizabeth II used on Canadian coins from 1953 to 1964, the tiara bust used from 1965 to 1989, the royal diademed portrait used from 1990 to 2002, the reverse of the 2002 silver dollar that features Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, the reverse of the 2002 silver dollar that marks Elizabeth II’s golden jubilee, Queen Elizabeth II’s uncrowned bust used on Canadian coins since 2003, the reverse of the gold $300 coin that features an enameled and jewel-incrusted crown (issued in 2006 to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s 80th birthday), and the recently released 2012 $20 piece that marks Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee. At the end of the time line, the RCM added the three reverses of the “Continuity of the Crown Series” that feature Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry.

The tent also included three display cases containing, among others, three gold $300 coins and a coin featuring the Great Seal of Canada, issued in 2003. A guest book in which visitors were asked to leave messages for the royal visitors was at the side of the tent.

Inside, visitors were treated to the RCM’s 25-minute catwalk tour, which led to the boutique. There, they could examine this year’s RCM products. The the most popularly purchased item appeared to be the colored 25-cent coin that commemorates the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Some RCM visitors got a glimpse of Prince William and his bride as they drove past the Mint on their way to the Canada Day celebrations. The RCM’s location on Sussex Drive places it on the route between Rideau Hall (the residence of the governor general of Canada), where all royal visitors stay, and Parliament Hill, where the official celebrations were held.

Visitors and bystanders alike could partake of a hot dog or hamburger just outside the RCM’s gates at a barbecue set up for the occasion. Farrah-May Gendron, the RCM’s special events coordinator, donned an apron and acted as the short-order cook. Proceeds from the sales of festivities staples were donated to the Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign, a campaign through which federal public servants can support registered Canadian charities of their choosing.

The superb weather — sunny, in the mid-80s with a light breeze — was the crowning jewel of the day and contributed to make it a most memorable event. The number of RCM visitors was not immediately available; however, more than 300,000 people (three times the normal attendance) took part in the noon and evening Canada Day shows on Parliament Hill, with most attending only one of the shows. ¦

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