‘Shag Harbour Incident’ continues RCM’s UFO series

By Jesse Robitaille

Following up on the first release from the “Unexplained Phenomena” series, a second one-ounce coin is among the 13 new issues launched by the Royal Canadian Mint this October.

Again with a face value of $20 and a mintage of 4,000, this second coin tells the story of what’s described as “Canada’s best-documented UFO crash,” the so-called “Shag Harbour Incident.” Unlike last year’s UFO-shaped design, this year’s silver glow-in-the-dark coin is a “rectangular wafer that gives us more vertical space to depict a UFO crash off Canada’s east coast,” according to the Mint’s latest catalogue, which was issued nationwide on Oct. 1.

“Wanting to find the perfect moment for this coin, I began by reading all the different eyewitness accounts: the pilots spotting lights over their wing, the fisherman who sailed out to offer aid, the local teens on the shore,” said coin designer Pandora Young. “I was also struck by how exciting it must have felt to share this experience with others, and we wanted to capture that sense of awe and adventure.”

Today, the tiny fishing village of Shag Harbour, N.S., is home to an organization known as the Shag Harbour UFO Incident Society. The group manages a UFO-themed museum and an annual festival, with this year’s gathering taking place on Oct. 5.

The coin was issued Oct. 1 along with 12 other new releases in the Mint’s monthly numismatic catalogue.

Laurie Wickens, the group’s president, was one of seven witnesses who saw a large colourful flying object fall into the water near Shag Harbour at 11:45 p.m. on Oct. 4, 1967.

Then aged 17, Wickens was driving home to Shag Harbour with four other people, reported Michael MacDonald, of the Canadian Press, in 2017.

“There was four in a row,” Wickens said, of the object’s lights, “and they were going on and off. One would come on, then two, three and four, and they’d all be off for a second and come back on again.”

A Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) corporal with the surname Wercicky was also among the witnesses who reported the incident to police. Wercicky is mentioned in a report by Colonel William Turner, then director of operations for Canada’s National Defence Headquarters, dated Oct. 6, 1967.

Turner found “this object, in the time interval of approximately five minutes, flew down to the water surface, floated and sank.”

A 50-cent nickel-plated steel coin is the first issue from the new ‘Spooky Canada’ series.

“The flying object was described as being in excess of 60 feet in diameter and carried four white lights spaced horizontally at a distance of 15 feet. The object, flying in an easterly direction when first sighted, descended rapidly to the water and produced a bright flash on impact. One light remained on the surface for a considerable time but sank before a boat could reach it.”

Searches by the RCMP, the military and private divers – as well as later investigations – brought no answers.

The coin, which is designed by Pandora Young, illuminates under a black-light flashlight (included with each coin) to “add a sci-fi worthy element” to the previously darkened craft. It has a weight of 31.56 grams and a diameter of 49.80 millimetres by 28.60 millimetres.

The first ‘Spooky Canada’ coin features a two-image lenticular design showing an encounter with an inmate at the former Ottawa Jail in the nation’s capital.

‘SPOOKY CANADA’ SERIES BEGINS

A new series, “Spooky Canada,” was also launched by the Mint this October.

It follows the 2014-16 “Haunted Canada” series, which saw three 25-cent nickel-plated steel coins issued.

With a 50-cent face value, the new series’ first coin features a two-image lenticular design showing an encounter with an inmate at the former Ottawa Jail on 75 Nicholas St., in downtown Ottawa.

The building that housed the jail, which closed in 1972, is only about one kilometre south of the Mint’s Ottawa headquarters. Among the jail’s most notorious inmates was Patrick Whelan, who was accused of – and ultimately executed for – assassinating Thomas D’Arcy McGee in the late 1860s.

Considered one of the most haunted places in Canada, the former jail is now home to the HI Ottawa Jail Hostel.

Dubbed “HI Ottawa Jail Hostel,” the coin has a weight of 12.61 grams, a diameter of 35 millimetres and a mintage of 100,000.

POPPY-SHAPED COIN

The Mint’s first poppy-shaped piece is a $10 Fine silver coin named ‘Remembrance Day,’ which was designed by Mint product manager and artist Jamie Desrochers.

A $10 Fine silver coin, “Remembrance Day,” is also among the Mint’s October issues.

Described as a “first-ever poppy-shaped coin,” it also features a new colour-applying technique “that captures the poppy’s layered and airy feel in a way that has not been seen on previous poppy coins.”

Designed by Jamie Desrochers, the coin has a weight of 15.87 grams, a diameter of 34 millimetres and a mintage of 10,000.

The second ‘Multifaceted Animal Head’ coin features a grizzly bear.

MULTI-FACETED ANIMAL HEAD

The second coin from the “Multifaceted Animal Head” series, this featuring a grizzly bear, was also issued this October.

The series’ first coin, which depicted a wolf, was a 2019-dated coin; however, this latest $25 Fine silver issue is dated 2020 and was designed by Alex Tirabasso. Built from 498 polygons – the highest in the series – the faceted grizzly bear design is “crafted in proof finish to reflect light from various angles,” according to the Mint’s catalogue.

This “extraordinary high relief” design can offer a relief of about six millimetres on a coin measuring only 36 millimetres in diameter and an ounce in weight (compared to “ultra-high relief” coins, which can hit only two millimetres).

This coin has a weight of 33.34 grams, a diameter of 36 millimetres and a mintage of 2,500.

The series’ third and final coin – to be issued on Dec. 3 – will feature a lynx.

OTHER OCTOBER COINS

The first feather-shaped coin, a $20 Fine silver piece named was created in reverence to the eagle and its plumage, both of which carry deep cultural and spiritual meaning to Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

Other coins issues as part of the Mint’s October catalogue include:

  • a $3 Fine silver coin, “Whale Watching,” the 10th of 12 coins from the “Celebrating Canadian Fun and Festivities” series;
  • a $5 Fine silver coin, “Scorpio,” the 11th of 12 coins from the “Zodiac” series, which concludes on Nov. 5 with the final coin;
  • a $20 one-ounce Fine silver feather-shaped coin, “The Eagle Feather,” with a mintage of 3,000;
  • a $20 coloured one-ounce Fine silver coin, “Lest We Forget,” with the Mint’s first Murano poppy and a mintage of 6,000;
  • a $20 one-ounce Fine silver coin, “Light Pillars,” the final coin in the three-part “Sky Wonders” series;
  • a $30 two-ounce Fine silver and gold-plated coin, “Wolves and Elk,” the second of three coins from the “Golden Reflections: Predator and Prey” series;
  • a $50 three-ounce Fine silver coin, “The Centennial Flame of Canada,” which is described by the Mint as “a small-scale replace of a famous Canadian landmark”;
  • a 10-ounce $100 Fine silver coin, “Great Seal of the Province of Canada (1841-1867),” with selective gold plating and a mintage of 900;
  • a $125 half-kilogram Fine silver coin, “Tall Ships of Canada,” which features all four ships depicted in the 2016 “Tall Ships Legacy” series.

For more information, visit mint.ca.

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