OTD: Royal proclamation specifies design of 1999 Butterfly coin

On today’s date in 1998, a royal proclamation specified the design of a $200 gold coin that would be issued the following year.

The coin, which would be struck by the Royal Canadian Mint and depict a stylized butterfly, was dubbed “The Butterfly.” The third piece in a four-coin series celebrating Canada’s native cultures and traditions, it features a butterfly in the traditional Mi’kmaq double curve, symbolizing the balance between the physical and spiritual worlds.

”Our Native Cultures and Traditions gold coin series features beautiful original works by Canada’s finest artists,” said then Mint president Danielle Wetherup. ”The Butterfly coin reflects the richness of Mi’kmaq traditions and the fine talent the Mi’kmaq bring to Canada’s artistic heritage.”


Mi’kmaq artist Alan Syliboy, of Nova Scotia, drew his inspiration for the design on the reverse of the coin from the rock drawings or petroglyphs of Kejimkujik Park in Nova Scotia.

The double-curve butterfly design is surrounded by other ancient petroglyph symbols, including a five-pointed star symbolizing eternity and a fir branch representing prosperity.

The obverse depicts an effigy of Queen Elizabeth II by Canadian artist Dora de Pédery-Hunt surrounded by the inscriptions “200 Dollars,” “Canada,” “1998” and “Elizabeth II.”

The $200 22-karat gold coin (obverse shown) was issued with a mintage of 6,510 pieces.

The 22-karat gold coin has a weight of 17.13 grams, a diameter of 29 millimetres and a Proof finish. It was issued with a mintage of 6,510 pieces.


The “Native Cultures and Traditions” series used contemporary native art selected in co-operation with the Canadian Museum of Civilization and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (now split between Indigenous Services Canada and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada).

Four different regions of Canada were represented, including:

  • the art of the Haida from Canada’s west coast – ”Raven Bringing Light to the World” (1997);
  • the art of the Plains native culture – “The Legend of the White Buffalo” (1998);
  • the art of the Mi’kmaq – “The Butterfly” (1999); and
  • native art from Canada’s north (2000).

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