Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Symbols of Canada - Part 4 - Loonies & the Mint

The other day, while visiting the USA, I was out for appetizers and a visit with some friends.  One friend remarked that it was hard to see which US bills were which in the poorly lit restaurant.  This brought to mind another of our unique symbols that personifies Canada.  Our money.

Symbol #4 - Loonies and the Mint

For as long as I can remember, Canada has had colourful and unique bills and coins.  Our bills and coins had/have stereotypical symbols of Canada, ranging from the RCMP musical ride on the $50 (no more) to the beaver on the nickel, the caribou on the quarter and the maple leaf on the penny (also no more).  When the dollar bill and then two dollar bill were removed from circulation and replaced with the Loonie, we became even more unique; it took a bit of getting used to.  But now, it would be hard to go back.  Acceptance of the Twoonie was easier, I think.

While visiting Ottawa in October, I jumped at the chance to visit the Royal Canadian Mint.  I collect coins and I was thrilled to discover that the Mint was only a couple of blocks from where we were staying.  We gladly paid the admission for a guided tour of the facility.  Even if I'd only seen the 27 kilogram block of solid gold in the gift shop, that would have been worth it, but the tour highlighted how awesome Canada is and how cool our money and the Mint is.  If you get a chance, TAKE THE TOUR.  You won't regret it.

The Royal Canadian Mint
That is worth a lot of money
Look at me.  I'm the money!
Did you know that Canada mints coins for over 30 countries in the world, and has done so for some of them for more than 25 years?  Yup, it's true.

Did you know that Canada is the only country in the world that can produce coins as close to pure gold and silver as you can get?  To 5 places pure (99999).  A few years ago, to rub it in the faces of the world, the Mint created massive 100 kilogram replica coins that retailed for several million dollars.  Mint nerds (shrug).  The whole creation process is very specific, very precise and very interesting.  The Mint in Ottawa specializes in investment coins, which have an extremely high level of quality, as well as some of the other specialty coins.  The Mint in Winnipeg does circulation coinage only, but I am sure it is a cool place as well.

Did you know that the Mint is commissioned to make Olympic medals?  Yup, it's true.  For the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics (both Special and the other one), they created over a 1000 bronze, silver and gold medals, each with a unique design that when combined with all the other medals for each Olympic games, created a massive symbolic First Nations art piece.  Not only that, but the medals were done with a curved, wave design, just to show that it could be done.  Mint nerds (shrug).

There are so many other neat things about our money and the Mint, but when it comes down to it, our money makes us special.  Don't dread the heavy pockets.  Take a closer look are your money.  Enjoy it.  Embrace it.  It'll surprise you what you see.  And remember, it makes us uniquely Canadian.

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