OTD: Dominion of Canada’s first domestically produced coin struck in Ottawa

On today’s date in 1908, Governor General Earl Grey activated the press at the newly founded Royal Canadian Mint to strike the Dominion of Canada’s first domestically produced coin, a 50-cent piece.

Surrounded by an audience of dignitaries, the Countess Grey closed the ceremony by striking the Dominion’s first bronze cent. The Ottawa branch of Britain’s Royal Mint was officially open for business.

At 3 p.m., the Governor General remarked, “As the King’s representative I formally declare the Ottawa Branch of the Royal Mint open,” before striking the first official coin produced in Ottawa.

Originally, the official opening was scheduled for Nov. 9; however, this was postponed until the new year because of a security concern. The facility lacked a surrounding fence, which was considered essential for an operation of that size and significance. The fence was eventually completed on time, although its final cost tripled its original estimate, causing some controversy for the government.

The Mint released the 50-cent Proof silver coin alongside a 52-cent stamp in this set.

Throughout the past 108 years, the Mint has emerged as a global leader in minting. Today, an automated plant in Winnipeg produces circulation coins for Canada as well as the Mint’s international clients, and the Ottawa facility performs refining and assaying as well as the production of bullion and numismatic coins.

MINT CENTENNIAL

In 2008, the Mint issued a coin and stamp set to mark its 100th anniversary. The set included a 52-cent stamp as well as a dual date 50-cent coin made of .925 silver. The coin has a diameter of 29.72 mm, a thickness of two mm and a weight of 11.8 grams.

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