RCNA Convention cancelled amid ‘greatest health crisis of our generation’

The annual Royal Canadian Numismatic Association (RCNA) Convention has been cancelled for the first time in the event’s nearly seven-decade history.

The decision to cancel the weeklong show, slated for July 21-25 in Halifax, was announced on May 20, only two months before the doors were set to open to collectors from across Canada, the United States and abroad. This year’s convention – only the fourth ever scheduled for Halifax – would have been the RCNA’s 67th annual show since its first outing in 1954.

“As we all are intimately aware, the world is confronting the greatest health crisis of our generation, and most likely of the last century,” reads a statement issued by the RCNA. “Our thoughts are with each of you in our collector society, your families, your clubs and their members, and your broader communities. We wish each of you the best, and an optimistic hope that this will pass safely for all of us in due course.”

The decision came only two months before the event because “the hotel at which our convention was to be held took the position that we must wait until two months before the planned start of our convention to determine if the convention could still be held, based on what was known at that date,” organizers added.

As of May 20, there were 32 active cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia. The bulk of the outbreak was centred on Halifax’s Northwood long-term care facility, where 51 of the province’s 57 COVID-19 deaths have been reported.

That day, Canadian provinces and territories adopted an expanded list of COVID-19 symptoms.

“We’ve learned over the last few months that COVID-19 actually can present in a more diverse way, a greater number of symptoms than we originally understood at the beginning of the first wave,” Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, said on May 20.

Two days later, Strang noted the first wave of the pandemic was nearing an end while urging Nova Scotians to adjust to a “new normal.”

“As we come out of the first wave of COVID-19, it’s not about going back to where we were in 2019,” Strang said. “Some things need to be maintained that allow us to live with COVID in a reasonable way.”

He believes a second wave could hit the province this fall or winter.

“Nobody can be definitive about that,” he added. “Even any of the reasonable experts would say we’re likely to see a second wave, but not exactly sure when and not exactly sure how severe it would be.”

It’s because of this uncertainty that RCNA officials were forced to cancel the upcoming convention.

“We must look first to the health and safety of our collector family, and it does not appear to us that we can hold our 2020 convention in July and uphold that obligation, which has to remain our foremost consideration.”

In the meantime, with a total lack of coin shows, club meetings and other numismatic events, collectors can keep up with their hobby in other ways, said RCNA Executive Secretary Paul Johnson.

“There are lots of things collectors can do to work on their collection at home – cataloguing their collection, reading books on the parts of collecting they’re interested in. That’s what I’ve been doing,” said Johnson.

The 2020 Royal Canadian Numismatic Association Convention medal features a bronze statue of Évangéline at Nova Scotia’s Grand-Pré National Historic Site.


Anyone registrants of the 2020 convention will receive a full refund by contacting Johnson at info@rcna.ca or 1-647-401-4014.

Despite the cancellation, the 2020 convention medal was still struck and made available to collectors in silver, copper and nickel “in very limited mintages,” Johnson said; however, the medals have since sold out.

The medal celebrates Nova Scotia’s Grand-Pré National Historic Site, a theme submitted by the Halifax Regional Coin Club convention committee. The design was “chosen to evoke the emotions of sorrow and despair felt by Évangéline, the fictional heroine from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1847 epic poem: Évangéline, A Tale of Acadie,” according to RCNA officials, who added the poem is based on the story of the expulsion of the Acadians.

A National Historic Site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Grand-Pré consists of a 1,300-hectare park set aside to commemorate the region as the agricultural centre of the Acadian settlement from 1682-1755.

In 1920, three years after the centre of the old village was designated as a tourist attraction, a bronze statue of Évangéline by Canadian sculptor Louis-Philippe Hébert was erected.

The head of the statue and the nearby memorial church are featured on the reverse of the 2020 medal.


The convention’s official auctioneer, The Canadian Numismatic Company (TCNC), will host an online-only auction on Aug. 27-29.

TCNC is waiving its seller’s fee for all RCNA members. The deadline to consign material for the sale is July 10.

Next year’s RCNA Convention is scheduled for July 20-25 in Ottawa.

“Ottawa draws more collectors and people to our annual convention than any other city in Canada,” Johnson said. “It’s a real drawing card, mainly because it’s the capital city and there’s so much to see and do there.”

The RCNA Convention has been held in Ottawa three times this century, including in 2000, 2008 and 2016, “and they’ve all been very, very successful,” he added.

“We expect next year to hopefully get back to normal.”

While the 2022 show will be held in Lévis, Qué., about 15 kilometres southwest of Québec City, organizers are hoping to bring the annual convention back to Halifax for 2023.

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