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

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

“As the King’s representative, I formally declare the Ottawa Branch of the Royal Mint open,” said Grey, Canada’s ninth Governor General since Confederation, as he struck the first official coin produced in Ottawa.

Later in the day, surrounded by an audience of dignitaries, Countess Grey – Alice Holford – closed the ceremony by striking the Dominion’s first bronze cent.


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 its 50-cent Proof silver centennial coin alongside a 52-cent stamp issued by Canada Post.

Throughout the past 111 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.


In 2008, the Mint issued a coin and stamp set to mark its 100th anniversary.

The set included a 52-cent stamp plus a double-dated 50-cent coin made of .925 silver. The coin has a diameter of 29.72 millimetres, a thickness of two millimetres and a weight of 11.8 grams.

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