The Royal Canadian Mint has unleashed a veritable menagerie of animals, with more than half a dozen coins with animal themes included in the Crown corporation’s November catalogue. First off is a colourized $20 coin shows an image of a caribou, most commonly seen on the 25-cent coin. The new issue, however, shows the entire animal in profile, with ice-capped mountains in the background. The exact species shown is the woodland caribou, the only member of the deer family in which both the males and females grow antlers. The antlers are used more for digging for lichen and plants than for protection, and are shed every year.
Caribou are known for epic migrations, travelling 6,000 kilometres a year in their trek between the boreal forest and tundra. It was designed by Trevor Tennant and has the same specifications as the coloured coin issued for the polar bear. Upscale ursines Bears come next, starting with a coloured $20 silver coin showing a polar bear. Designed by famed Canadian wildlife artist Glen Loates, the coin shows a polar bear perched on top of a mountain. The design incorporates both colour treatment and a variety of die finishes to enhance the portrait. The coin is struck on .9999 silver blanks with a diameter of 38 millimetres and weight of 31.39 grams with a mintage limit of 8,500.
Considered the king of the Arctic, the polar bear is native to arctic regions around the world. At this time 19 populations are known worldwide, with a total population of about 25,000 bears. Of that number, about 15,000 live in the Canadian Arctic. Polar bears can weigh up to 600 kilograms and measure up to 1.7 metres at the shoulders and nearly four metres when standing on their hind legs. They spend most of their lives on the sea ice, feeding primarily on seals. They have shorter ears and tails than other bear species to conserve heat. Bears also appear on two coins by Inuit artist Germaine Arnaktauyak.
All three are Proof versions of the bullion designs already issued. The design shows a bear in profile, walking across an ice floe. One coin is a 1½-ounce silver piece, with a face value of $8. It is struck in .9999 silver with a diameter of 38 mm and a mintage limit of 17,500. The other piece is a .9999 gold coin using the same design. It has a quarter-ounce weight and face value of $10. The gold coin is not sold separately, but in a set with the $8 silver coin. The mintage limit for the set is 7,500. The number of silver coins produced for the set is in addition to the coins struck for single sale.
Inuits mark Arctic expedition Inuit artist Tim Pitsiulak is credited as the designer of a coin honouring the First Canadian Arctic Expedition of 1913, which depicts three whales being hunted by Inuit. The coin shows a bowhead whale in the foreground, with two beluga whales in the background. Around the edge is a traditional whaling boat and three kayaks. The whale is decorated with ivory masks, representing Inuit expansion across Canada. Pitsiulak’s initials appear on the coin using the symbols of the Inuktituk language.
The Mint is issuing 10,000 coins struck on .9999 silver blanks, with a diameter of 27 mm and weight of 7.96 grams. It has a face value of $3. Buffalo herd Hunting is also shown on a $5 silver coin, which portrays the native tradition of hunting bison. Designed by Darlene Gait, the coin shows two small boys surveying a bison herd prior to their first hunt. Their father points out a white buffalo. The white bison is so rare that it is considered a miracle and an omen of important change. The Proof coin is struck on .999 silver blanks with a diameter of 36 mm and weight of 23 grams.
The mintage limit is 10,000 coins. Bison appear on another 2014-dated coin, a $300 platinum issue designed by Claudio D’Angelo. Called Challenge for Power, the coin shows two male bisons clashing. A common practice during the mating season when males compete for their choice of breeding partner. If an initial display of snorting and stamping does not resolve the issue, the two males butt heads until one emerges victorious.
The .9995 coin has a diameter of 30 mm and weight of 31.16 grams. The mintage limit is 200 coins. More beavers The final coin is yet another issue depicting a beaver, an animal that has been commemorated on four other coins this year. Designed by Emily Damstra, the $50 silver coin shows a swimming beaver. The mammal is shown in mid-dive, with a portion of a tree gripped in its teeth. The animal’s body is stretched out, with its large tail serving as a rudder. Beavers spend much of the summer stockpiling leafy branches below water for their winter food supply. The Proof coin is struck in .9999 silver, with a diameter of 65 mm and weight of 157.7 grams. The mintage limit is 1,500.