By Jesse Robitaille
The third instalment of the “Unexplained Phenomena” series was issued on Oct. 6 as part of the Royal Canadian Mint’s latest numismatic catalogue.
The one-ounce Fine silver rectangular coin gives collectors a front-row seat to an unexplained 1978 event in Clarenville, N.L., where police responded to a call about a brightly lit object in the sky.
“From unusual sightings to strange encounters, this series brings you some of Canada’s most fascinating tales of unexplained phenomena,” according to a statement issued by the Mint, which added the series’ first two coins “sold out quickly.”
At 1:45 p.m. on Oct. 26, 1978, 25-year-old Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Constable James Blackwood arrived at the scene in Clarenville, where witnesses directed his attention upwards, to the sky. Using binoculars and a high-powered scope, they observed a fin-tailed, oval-shaped craft hovering above the water near Random Island.
“I went down and the craft was hovering between Clarenville and Random Island, right on the water. It was only a couple hundred feet off the water. It was there for good two hours before it left,” the retired Blackwood told The Packet newspaper in 2015. “I activated the roof lights of my police car and it activated lights at the same time.”
After about two hours, the craft rose above the water and vanished, “leaving no trace of its passage except a credible eyewitness account,” The Packet’s 2015 report added. Blackwood gave countless interviews to media around the world and “UFO fever gripped the town for years to come.”
“I’m familiar with aircrafts of all shapes and sizes. But the metal on it was not like aircraft metal. It was very dull and not shiny at all. It wasn’t even smooth. It was very coarse looking,” Blackwood told The Packet. “The technology was way beyond what we had then and still way beyond what we have now.”
Collectors can use the included black-light flashlight to activate the coin’s glow-in-the-dark features and see the bright lights described by the witnesses.
Designed by Adam Young, the coin has a weight of 31.56 grams, a diameter of 49.80 millimetres by 28.60 millimetres and a mintage of 5,000.
“I wanted this piece to include all the elements of the 1978 experience while also incorporating the rugged yet whimsical coastline so often found in the Newfoundland landscape,” said Young. “Light and line direction were also important aspects of the design, creating a circular visual flow throughout the composition. This has been an exciting artistic endeavour, which, throughout my research for the design, has caused me to tumble down the rabbit hole of other Canadian UFO sightings.”
The series’ previous coins commemorated the “Shag Harbour Incident” (2019) and the “Falcon Lake Incident” (2018), both of which occurred in 1967.
Shaped like a real poppy to resemble the inspiration for the war-time poem In Flanders Fields, a $20 Fine silver coin, “Remembrance Day,” was also issued as part of the October catalogue.
The reverse is sculpted to capture the poppy’s botanical details – from the outward curving petals to the innermost whorl – while an antique finish highlights the flower’s crinkle, curl and fold.
“It is this flower that represents a nation’s gratitude to those who fought, those who were lost, those who continue to serve, and all the loved ones who have supported them through the years,” according to a statement issued by the Mint. “By reproducing the flower inspiration for the poem In Flanders Fields, we’re honouring all who have served and those who continue to serve our country in the name of freedom and, most of all, peace. Their sacrifices will not be forgotten by generations of Canadians, as represented by this poppy coin.”
Designed by Alex Tirabasso, the coin has a weight of 28.50 grams, a diameter of 36 millimetres and a mintage of 7,000.
A pair of ultra-high-relief 2021-dated coins, including a $1 Fine silver piece and a $200 pure gold coin, was also released on Oct. 6.
“Our nation is widely known for its dedication to peace, and that commitment as well as its legacy has been handed down and cherished by each new generation of Canadians,” reads a statement issued by the Mint about the “Peace Dollar” coins, which are designed by Susan Taylor.
“It was Canadian Lester B. Pearson who, in his capacity as Canadian Secretary of State for External Affairs, organized the very first UN peacekeeping force in 1957. His efforts earned him a Nobel Peace Prize and helped cement Canada’s reputation as both a peacekeeping and peace loving nation. That vision holds true today, as Canada continues to advocate for peace and freedom the world over.”
Featuring a personification of peace on the reverse alongside Canada’s motto, “A Mari Usque Ad Mare,” the coins also include edge lettering with the Latin word “PAX” (“PEACE” in English) engraved in a repeating pattern.
The gold coin also features interrupted serrations around the edge.
On both coins, the word “PAX” is also included in the obverse field opposite the 2021 year-date.
The silver coin has a weight of 30.76 grams, a diameter of 36.15 millimetres and a mintage of 5,000 while the gold coin has a weight of 31.16 grams, a diameter of 30 millimetres and a mintage of 500.
OTHER OCTOBER COINS
Also launched on Oct. 6 as part of the Mint’s October catalogue are:
- a five-cent pure gold coin, “The End of the Second World War: The Victory Nickel,” which has a weight of 31.16 grams and a mintage of 400;
- the eighth $3 Fine silver coin from the 13-piece “Floral Emblems of Canada” series, this featuring Saskatchewan’s red lily with a mintage of 4,000;
- the third $5 Fine silver coin from the four-piece “Moments to Hold” series, this honouring Remembrance Day with a mintage of 100,000;
- the 11th $5 Fine silver coin from the 12-piece “Birthstones” series featuring a citrine-toned crystal for the month of November and a mintage of 5,000;
- the third and fourth $10 Fine silver coins from the six-piece “O Canada!” series, one featuring Canada’s symbol of democracy, Parliament Hill, and another depicting the “changing of the guard” ceremony, both with a mintage of 10,000;
- the sixth and final $50 Fine silver coin from the “Real Shapes” series, this featuring the polar bear, with a mintage of 1,200;
- a $100 Fine silver sculpture coin capturing the pageantry of the RCMP “Musical Ride” with a 65-millimetre diameter and a mintage of 1,000;
- the 2020 Fine Silver Classic Canadian Coin and Medallion Set, which has a mintage of 7,000 and features all six circulation denominations with a mirror-like proof finish plus a medallion recreating the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal;
- the 2020 Holiday Gift Set, which has a mintage of 100,000 and features 2020-dated $2, $1, 25-cent, 10-cent and five-cent circulation coins plus a specially struck $1 holiday-themed coin;
- a 2021-dated $15 Fine silver lotus-shaped coin, “Lunar Lotus: Year of the Ox,” which has a mintage of 15,888;
- another 2021-dated $15 Fine silver “Year of the Ox” coin also with a mintage of 15,888;
- a 2021-dated $150 18-karat gold “Year of the Ox” coin with a mintage of 1,500;
- the 2021 Fine Silver Maple Leaf Fractional Set, “Our Arboreal Emblem: The Maple Tree,” which has a mintage of 3,000 and features five double-dated (1996 and 2021) Silver Maple Leaf bullion coins with denominations of $1, $2, $3, $4 and $5; and
- the 2021 Pure Gold Fractional Set, “125th Anniversary of the Klondike Gold Rush,” which has a mintage of 500 and features double-dated (1896 and 2021) 1/20-, 1/10-, 1/4- and one-ounce gold coins, each with a small engraved gold-pan privy mark.
UN COIN COMING SOON
On Oct. 22, the Mint is also slated to issue a $1 circulation coin marking the 75th anniversary of the signing of the Charter of the United Nations.
It will be the first time a single-issue $1 commemorative circulation coin is issued in both colourized and non-colourized versions.