On today’s date in 1984, rising water levels proved fatal for 10,000 caribou that drowned as their herd crossed northern Québec’s Caniapiscau River while moving to winter pasture.
The following week, on Oct. 4, 1984, the New York Times reported Quebec officials estimated “at least 10,000 caribous had drowned and that the final figure could be as high as 22,000.”
The caribou has graced Canada’s 25-cent coin for nearly 80 years, dating back to 1936, when a change of sovereigns prompted the Canadian government to alter its coins’ reverse designs as well.
The caribou design created by Canadian artist Emanuel Hahn was first used in 1937. It has since been temporarily changed for other commemorations, including those for Canada’s centennial in 1967; the North-West Mounted Police’s centennial in 1973; Canada’s 125th birthday in 1992; the Millennium coin program in 1999 and 2000; and Canada Day in 2002.
Canada’s current 25-cent coins have a weight of 4.4 grams, a 23.88-millimetre diameter, a 1.58-millimetre thickness and are composed of 94 per cent steel, 3.8 per cent copper and 2.2 per cent nickel plating.
In 2014, the Royal Canadian Mint commemorated the woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) on a $20 Fine silver coin.
Designed by Canadian artist Trevor Tennant, this coin features a full-colour caribou set in an engraved mountain landscape. It has a mintage of 8,500, a weight of 31.39 grams and a 38-millimetre diameter.
In 2013, Tennant also designed a one-kilogram Fine silver coin featuring the caribou. This coin, which depicts a male and female caribou standing against the backdrop of the Canadian Arctic, has a limited mintage of 500 pieces, a face value of $250 and a 102.1-millimetre diameter.
A one-kilogram pure gold coin – this with a limited mintage of 20 pieces, a face value of $2,500 and a diameter of 101.6 millimetres – also features a design by Tennant.
Also in 2013, the Mint released a $10 Fine silver coin depicting a male caribou set against the rugged terrain of the Canadian north. This coin has a weight of 15.87 grams, a 34-millimetre diameter and a mintage of 40,000 pieces.
Lastly, in 2013, the Mint issued a $5 pure gold coin also designed by Leduc. It displays a portrait of the neck, face and antlers of a male caribou. It has a mintage of 4,000 pieces, a weight of 3.13 grams and a 16-millimetre diameter.