Next year, as part of the celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary (“Canada 150,” as it’s popularly called), the Royal Canadian Mint will issue a special series of 2017-dated circulating coins. Each of the denominations ($2, $1, 25 cents, 10 cents, and 5 cents) will bear a reverse design pertaining to one of five themes in a Mint-sponsored design contest called “My Canada, My Inspiration.” The contest themes were Our Wonders, Our Character, Our Achievements, Our Passions, and Canada’s Future.
The contest was launched on March 11, 2015, when the Mint invited the public to submit designs for the series. Thousands of designs poured in, and the public cast more than one million votes online to narrow the selection. The remaining designs were reviewed by the Mint and a panel of notable Canadians, who together selected the finalists. Beginning in September 2015, Canadians voted on the winners in the five categories.
Gerald Gloade, of the Millbrook First Nation Community, was the winner of the category “Our Passions.” Gloade is especially fond of the 1967 Alex Colville–designed centennial coinage—a series that is now iconic in Canada’s numismatic history. “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,” he said. “As a proud Mi’kmaw, I was inspired to reimagine the beaver of our traditional five-cent coin through the eyes of my own First Nations Culture.” Gloade’s design, which bears distinctive visual elements of Algonkian cultural heritage, was created entirely with digital tools, and will grace the reverse of the 5-cent coin in the series.
Albertan Amy Choi’s design was the winner for the “Our Character” theme. “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,” she said. “Since Canada is known worldwide 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’s graceful composition, “Wings of Peace,” will be featured on the reverse of the 10-cent coin.
The work of nine-year-old Joelle Wong, of Ontario, will star on the reverse of the 25-cent coin. Wong’s design was the winner of the “Canada’s Future” theme. In the image, a turtle, a bird, a beaver, and a twining vine ascend from a pair of open hands, symbolizing the connection of humans with the natural world of Canada, and the need to protect it. “I love animals and green spaces and that gave me the idea of showing my hope for Canada’s future in a painting that celebrates the importance of our nature and native Canadian culture,” said Wong. “It’s amazing that so many Canadians liked my way of wishing a happy birthday to my beautiful homeland—Canada!”
Wesley Klassen, of Ontario, created the winning design for the “Our Achievements” category. The complex design draws on the artist’s memories of family vacations, and the great engineering achievements they saw as they traveled the country. Klassen said, “I chose images that are in one way or another connected to the railroad, for which all Canadians can be forever grateful, and I’m touched that my design appealed to so many of them.” The composition holds the Lion’s Gate Bridge, a prairie grain elevator, the CN Tower, the majestic Chateau Frontenac Hotel in Quebec City, and an East Coast lighthouse, all connected by a railroad.
Finally, British Columbian Dr. Timothy Hsia won the category of “Our Wonders.” “The Northern Lights are a true Canadian wonder, one that all Canadians from sea to sea can appreciate and call their own. To me, this radiant light display embodies Canada’s unity and beauty,” he said. “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.” Featured on the golden center of the bimetallic $2 coin, Hsia’s design depicts two people in a small canoe at the lower part of a field filled with the Northern Lights. Like Gloade’s beaver design, Hsia’s composition hints at a classic piece of Canadian numismatic history—the Voyageur dollar.
All of the obverses will feature the profile portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II designed by Susanna Blunt. An extensive series of collector coins will be offered for the sesquicentennial, as well.
Information on the circulating and collector coins of Canada’s sesquicentennial can be found on the website of the Royal Canadian Mint, along with all current Canadian coinage and ordering information.