Canada: Annual silver dollar honours the 240th anniversary of Captain Cook’s explorations of Western Canada

The Royal Canadian Mint have released their new annual silver dollar coin for 2018 which pays tribute to the memorable explorations of North America by Captain James Cook (1728–1779) who is remembered in Canada as one of the most prolific seamen and explorers of his time. History remembers Cook as the explorer whose voyages and exceptional surveying skills changed European perceptions of the Pacific region by mapping many unknown shores throughout this vast expanse of ocean. From the Bering Strait to the Antarctic Circle, in addition to many of the Pacific islands in between, this British navigator charted more terra incognita than any other in his time. 2018 marks the 240th anniversary of Cook’s arrival at the summer village of the Nuu-chah-nulth, at Nootka Sound, which led to increased international trade and exploration along Canada’s western shores.

During the first two voyages of Captain Cook, one from 1768 to 1771 and another from 1772 to 1775, he became the first European explorer to reach New Zealand and Australia’s east coast and the first to cross the Antarctic Circle. In 1776, a third voyage sent him on a quest to find the elusive Northwest Passage, which brought his two-ship expedition to Canada’s Pacific coastline. On the 1st April 1778, the HMS Resolution and the HMS Discovery dropped anchor near Yuquot, on the western coast of Vancouver Island. Cook was cordially welcomed by Maquinna, chief of the Mowachat group of the Nuu-chah-nulth, leading the crew to refer to the area as Friendly Cove.

Captain Cook was not the first European navigator to explore Canada’s west coast, but his was the first prolonged stay. During the month spent in Nootka Sound, the crew repaired the ships while Cook explored the area and engaged in local trade, exchanging metal goods for sea otter pelts that soon made the area a trade centre. The expedition set sail once more on the 26th April 1778, on a northerly course toward the Bering Sea. But Cook would not find the Northwest Passage. Stopped by the Arctic’s unyielding cold and ice, the expedition made a return trip to the Hawaiian Islands discovered the year before, where Cook was killed in 1779. His legacy of exploration left an indelible imprint on the history of the Pacific region — and to Canada — where places like Cook’s Harbour, Newfoundland, and Resolution Cove, British Columbia, are lasting reminders of his passage through Canadian coastal waters.

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The coin is designed by maritime artist John Horton, who presents an artistic rendering of Captain James Cook’s arrival at Nootka Sound in April 1778. Towering mountains and the timbered headland of Bligh Island provide a stunning backdrop to this historical portrait, all precisely engraved in a superb Proof finish and framed by a nautical twisted rope. Viewed in three-quarter profile, a stern-looking Cook keeps a watchful eye on his ship and crew while holding a telescope in one hand, his admiralty orders in the other. Behind him is the HMS Discovery, which is moored a short distance away from the HMS Resolution, whose crew is unrigging the ship and removing masts and spars in preparation for repairs. In the water, a group of Nuu-chah-nulth approach the Resolution in a canoe, ready to extend a friendly greeting.

The obverse side features the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, which was designed by Susanna Blunt, and has been seen on all Canadian circulation and many commemorative coins since 2003.



Weight Diameter Quality

Maximum Mintage


.999 Silver

23.1 g 36 mm Proof



.999 Silver

23.1 g 36 mm Proof with selective gold plating


The annual issue silver dollar is available as a separate purchase and is encapsulated in a Royal Canadian Mint-branded maroon custom case with a black outer protective box, and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.

The Proof dollar, which is accented with selective gold plating highlighting portions of the obverse and reverse design, is only available as part of the seven-coin *Premium Silver Proof Set. For additional information on this and other coins available from the Royal Canadian Mint, please visit their website.

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