On today’s date in 1970, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded the 1976 Summer Olympic Games, which would be held July 17-Aug. 1, 1976, to Montréal, Qué., which would become the first Canadian city to host the Olympics.
Beginning in February 1973, the Royal Canadian Mint engaged in a novel program for the government of then-Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau: the coins struck to commemorate the 1976 Summer Olympics would also help finance the massive undertaking.
The plan was to have 30 coins, including 28 silver pieces in denominations of $5 and $10 as well as two gold coins. It would the first time the Mint issued coins in the denominations of $5 and $10. The coins were categorized into seven series with each series configured into four coin sets of two $5 coins as well as two $10 coins.
The seven series were:
- Olympic Motifs;
- Early Canadian Sports;
- Olympic Track and Field Sports;
- Olympic Water Sports;
- Olympic Team and Body Contact Sports; and
- Olympic Souvenirs.
All 28 coins were designed in a similar fashion with the top aspect of the coin depicting the Olympic logo, its denomination and the wording in the same spot. The finishes consisted of two different styles never used on Canadian coinage before; the first was a satin or frosted effect that adorned the coin and the second was a proof finish consisting of frosted lettering and a design against a brilliant mirror field.
It was all a first for the Mint, which obtained special equipment to complete the designs.