Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday November 15, 2023
Regal Evolution: From Elizabeth to Charles on Canadian Coins
The Royal Canadian Mint is about to embark on a new chapter, with Canadian coins soon featuring the face of King Charles. This shift in design, replacing the image of the late Queen Elizabeth II, marks a significant moment for the mint based in Winnipeg.
The chosen design, crafted by Canadian portrait artist Steven Rosati out of 350 entries, has been forwarded to Buckingham Palace for royal approval. Notably, the King’s effigy is poised to grace the iconic loonie for the first time, with a limited release of 2023-dated coins expected to circulate in early December.
Reflecting on the history of Canadian coinage adds depth to this narrative. Dating back to 1857, when the dollar became Canada’s official monetary unit post-independence, the country’s coinage has undergone notable transformations. The introduction of decimal coins in 1858 and subsequent denominations in 1870 marked key milestones.
Over the years, the composition of Canadian coins, originally boasting a .925 silver content, has evolved, transitioning to .800 in 1920 and eventually abandoning silver in favour of pure nickel coins by 1968. Interestingly, Canada’s coinage journey also included large cents from 1858-1920, diverging from the smaller-sized US cent.
The need to differentiate Canadian and US currencies led to the issuance of a distinctive 25 cent coin around 1870. Despite initial delays, the silver dollar made its debut in 1935, featuring a portrait of George V.
Analysis: How does putting King Charles on Canadian money make people feel? It’s a coin toss
Coins issued in Canada have historical ties to mints beyond its borders, with some struck in London’s Royal Mint or the Heaton Mint in England. Grading standards for Canadian coins align with those of the United States, emphasizing wear on the obverse, particularly in areas like crowns, laurel sprays, and hairlines.
In the present day, Canada boasts seven main denominations, including the iconic 1 C$ (Loonie), 2 C$ (Toonie), 50 Cent (Half Dollar), 25 Cent (Quarter), 10 Cents (Dime), and 5 Cent (Nickel). Yet, as we witness the introduction of King Charles on Canadian coins, it prompts reflection on the broader societal changes, like the diminishing role of physical coins in an era dominated by digital transactions. The cartoonish scenario of a grandmother introducing King Charles on a coin to her grandkids, met with confusion about both the monarch and the concept of coins, encapsulates this evolving landscape where tradition meets the modern age. (AI)