By Jesse Robitaille
Willie O’Ree’s groundbreaking hockey legacy is celebrated on the Royal Canadian Mint’s 2020 Black History Month coin, which was issued on Feb. 4 as part of the Crown corporation’s latest numismatic catalogue.
Born in 1935 in Fredericton, N.B., O’Ree made sports and human-rights history the moment he donned a Boston Bruins jersey and stepped onto the ice of the Montreal Forum on Jan. 18, 1958.
That night, O’Ree became the first black player to play – and score a goal – in the National Hockey League (NHL).
Read more about the O’Ree coin here.
ONE-KILO GOLD COIN
Canada’s heraldic history comes to life in a detailed reimagining of the 1905 arms of the Dominion of Canada.
Designed by Fraser Herald and artist Cathy Bursey-Sabourin, the reverse of the $2,500 one-kilogram pure gold coin centres on the seven-province shield used in Canada from the 1870s to the early 20th century. It bears the arms of the four founding provinces (Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia) as well as those that were added shortly after Confederation (Manitoba, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island).
A stylized royal crown surmounts the central shield; at its base is a beaver and a ribbon bearing the bilingual text, “DOMINION OF/DU CANADA.”
Flanking the central shield are four individual versions of the shields of the original provinces, and a laurel wreath encircles each of these shields. The background is filled with stylized maple leaves.
The obverse features the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt against a background with a pattern of maple leaves in the same style as the reverse.
With a mintage of 25, this coin has a weight of 1,006.1 grams and a diameter of 101.6 millimetres.
ALEX COLVILLE TRIBUTE
A 1/10-ounce pure gold version of Canada’s 1967 centennial circulation dollar is also part of the Mint’s February numismatic catalogue.
The first piece in a six-coin series dubbed “Tribute to Alex Colville,” the $1 coin re-creates Colville’s coin design of a profile view of a Canada goose in flight.
The obverse features Canada’s second effigy (1965-89) of Queen Elizabeth II by Arnold Machin.
All six of Colville’s wildlife-themed 1967 centennial circulation coin designs will be re-created on 1/10-ounce pure gold coins every two months from now until December. Each coin has a weight of 3.14 grams, a diameter of 16 millimetres and a mintage of 1,200.
ANOTHER NEW SERIES
A $10 Fine silver coin, “Polar Bears,” also launched another new six-coin series called “O Canada!”
All of the coins highlight a famous Canadian symbol or scene that has shaped the country’s image, and a different Canadian artist designed each coin.
Future coins will feature maple leaves (April); the Parliament of Canada (June); the “Changing of the Guard” (August); the “Great Outdoors” (October); and the beaver (November).
Each coin has a weight of 15.87 grams, a diameter of 34 millimetres and a mintage of 10,000.
OTHER FEBRUARY COINS
Other coins issued as part of the Mint’s February catalogue include:
- the third $5 Fine silver coin, this for the month of March and its aquamarine birthstone, in the 2020 “Birthstones” series;
- the first $5 Fine silver coin in the “Moments to Hold” series, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as Canada’s national police force;
- the second-last $20 Fine silver coin, “The Liberation of the Netherlands,” from the “Second World War: Battlefront” series;
- the Mint’s fourth selectively gold-plated $25 Fine silver piedfort, “Timeless Icons: Polar Bear,” which features a reverse design by Canadian artist Pierre Leduc;
- a $50 Fine silver coin, “Maple Leaves in Motion,” which is the Mint’s first double-plated coin and has a mintage of 1,000; and
- a pair of Pysanka coins, including a colourized one-ounce Fine silver coin with a mintage of 5,000 and a 58.5-gram pure gold coin with a mintage of 200.
Also issued this February is the “Numis-tastic!” set, which features five different striking techniques for the 25-cent caribou circulation coin. All five of our coin finishes – Brilliant Uncirculated, Proof, Reverse Proof, Matte and Specimen – appear side by side to show the difference a finish makes.
Lastly, this year’s specimen set shifts the focus onto wildlife conservation by showcasing one of Canada’s endangered species – the black-footed ferret – on a specimen $1 coin.
Designed by Caitlin Lindstrom-Milne, the special $1 coin features a black-footed ferret in its natural grassland habitat, where it pauses at the edge of a burrow surrounded by grama grass.
“I love telling a story through my art,” said Lindstrom-Milne. “For my first coin design, I wanted to realistically capture the ferret in its habitat to really drive home the importance of preserving Canada’s wildlife for our future generations.”
Each of the set’s six coins features a specimen finish with brilliant and frosted relief over a lined specimen background. There’s a mintage of 25,000 sets.
For more information, visit mint.ca.