OTD: Act of parliament establishes Royal Canadian Mint

On today’s date in 1931, the British government transferred the control of the Royal Mint’s Ottawa branch to the Canadian government, which established the Royal Canadian Mint through its finance department.

The London Gazette announced the Royal Mint’s Ottawa branch – established in 1908 – would be placed under Canadian control effective Dec. 1, 1931.

The Discontinuance Proclamation gave control of the mint to Canada’s finance department, which acquired the entire minting operation at 320 Sussex Dr. plus the surrounding land and buildings.

“At first the British North American provinces, and later the Dominion of Canada, obtained their coins from the Royal Mint in London or from The Mint, Birmingham, Ltd., and in its earlier years the operations of the Mint in Canada were confined to the production of gold, silver, and bronze coins for domestic circulation, of British sovereigns, and of small coins struck under contract for Newfoundland and Jamaica,” according to a contemporary government document now archived online.

In November 1907, test tokens were struck to adjust the coining presses before the first production of Canadian coins at the Ottawa branch of the Royal Mint.

The following January, Governor-General Albert Grey activated the press at the newly founded Royal Canadian Mint to strike Canada’s first domestically produced coin, a 50-cent piece.

“Previous to 1914 small quantities of gold bullion were refined, but during the War the Mint came to the assistance of the British Government by establishing a refinery in which nearly twenty million ounces of South African gold were treated on account of the Bank of England, and the subsequent great development of the gold-mining industry in Canada has resulted in gold-refining becoming one of the principal activities of the Mint,” adds the government document. “Gold coins have not been struck since 1919, most of the fine gold produced from the rough shipments from the mines being delivered to the Department of Finance (since Mar. 11, 1935, the Bank of Canada has acted as agent for the Government) in the form of bars of approximately 400 fine oz. each, the rest being sold in a convenient form to manufacturers. The fine silver extracted from the rough gold, when not required for coinage, is sold in New York or disposed of to local manufacturing firms.”

On April 1, 1969, with the passage of the Royal Canadian Mint Act, the Mint became a Crown corporation and has since reported to Parliament through the finance minister.

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