First items struck in Ottawa

By Nov. 7, 1907, the Ottawa Branch of the Royal Mint, was almost ready for business.

At this time the big concern was the lack of a fence around the building, considered essential for security. A contract was let out, without government tender, to the same contractor who had constructed the Mint buildings. The opening, originally planned for Nov. 9, was rescheduled to Jan. 2, 1908.

The plant had three presses, manufactured by Taylor and Challen, of Birmingham, England.

Taylor and Challen was a manufacturer of coin presses, rolling mills, and  pressing equipment. At that time Taylor and Challen presses were considered among the best in the world, and were being used for several mints in other nations.

Just to make sure that everything worked fine, a pair of 50-cent dies were prepared for a trial run.

The plain tokens were engraved “Ottawa Mint Trial Run” on one side, and NOVEMBER 1907 on the other.

Often overlooked today, these tokens represent the first items actually struck by what is now the Royal Canadian Mint.

As for the fence, while it was eventually completed on time, the final cost of three times the original estimate was an embarrassment to the government. The fence, and accompanying “guard lodge” is still standing today.

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