Commemorative coins of Canada
Commemorative coins of Canada are coins issued by the Royal Canadian Mint to commemorate significant persons, special events, and anniversaries.
Commemorative coins and general circulation
This page deals with commemorative coins issued by the Mint for general circulation, in the normal denominations of Canadian coins: two dollar; one dollar; fifty cent; twenty-five cent; ten cents; five cents; and one cent (now discontinued). They are available from the Mint and commercial banks at their normal face value.
Commemorative coins for circulation are distinct from numismatic coins issued by the Royal Canadian Mint, which contain special features and finishes, are available in different denominations than the normal circulating coins, and are for sale at higher prices than their face value.
Because of the large number of commemorative coins issued by the Mint, it is not possible to list them all in one article. Instead, this page provides links to the articles on the different denominations of Canadian coins, which each include lists of the commemorative coins issued in that denomination.
Commemorative designs on reverse
The obverse of all Canadian coins feature the reigning monarch, currently Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The effigies of the monarchs on the coins originally were provided by the Royal Mint in London, leading to similarity between Canadian coins and coins of other Commonwealth nations. Since 1990, however, the effigy has been prepared by Canadian artists.
Commemorative designs are thus on the reverse of the coins. They replace the usual designs, which have been used for most of the denominations since 1937, 1987 for the one dollar coin, and 1996 for the two dollar coin. They are usually designed by an artist other than the artist who designs the effigy of the monarch.
Although specific commemorations are usually limited to only one denomination of the coins, there has been one exception, where the entire set of coins was issued with commemorative designs. That was in 1967, to commemorate the Centennial of Canada. The Mint commissioned noted Canadian artist Alex Colville to design a new series of coins. His designs, and their symbolism, were as follows:
|Penny||Rock dove||Spiritual values and peace|
|Nickel||Rabbit||Emblematic of fertility and new life|
|Quarter||Bobcat||Embodiment of intelligence and decisive action|
|50-cent piece||Howling wolf||The vastness of Canada|
|Silver dollar||Goose||Dynamic serenity|
Two dollar coin (Toonie)
For the list of commemorative two dollar coins issued by the Mint, see: Toonie.
One dollar coin (Voyageur and Loonie)
There have been two different designs for the one dollar coin. The first, the Voyageur one dollar coin, was issued in 1935 to commemorate the twenty-five years of King George V's reign. It featured a voyageur (French-Canadian fur trader) and an indigenous man, paddling a birch-bark canoe laden with furs, with the northern lights in the background. Although intended as a commemorative coin, it continued to be issued until 1986, the year before the Loonie was introduced.
For information on the Voyageur dollar, see: Voyageur dollar.
In 1987, the Mint introduced a new one dollar coin. It normally features a loon on the reverse. Nicknamed the loonie, it replaced both the one dollar note issued by the Bank of Canada and the Voyageur dollar.
For the list of commemorative one dollar coins issued by the Mint since 1987, see: Loonie.
Fifty cent coin
The fifty cent coin has borne the Canadian coat of arms on its reverse since the current coin designs were introduced in 1937. There were minor changes to the design of the arms in 1959, when the depiction of the arms was simplified. As well, the Queen suggested that the Tudor crown on the arms be replaced with the crown of St Edward the Confessor. Although a circulating coin, the fifty-cent coin is rarely used.
For the list of commemorative fifty cent coins issued by the Mint, see: 50-cent piece (Canadian coin).
Twenty-five cent coin (Quarter)
The twenty-five cent coin has borne a caribou on its reverse since the current coin designs were introduced in 1937. The twenty-five cent coin is the coin which is most frequently used for commemorative purposes.
For the list of commemorative twenty-five cent coins issued by the Mint, see: Quarter (Canadian coin).
Ten cent coin (Dime)
The ten cent coin has borne the Nova Scotia schooner, the Bluenose, on its reverse since the current coin designs were introduced in 1937.
For the list of commemorative ten cent coins issued by the Mint, see: Dime (Canadian coin).
Five cent coin (Nickel)
The five cent coin has borne a beaver on its reverse since the current coin designs were introduced in 1937.
For the list of commemorative five cent coins issued by the Mint, see: Nickel (Canadian coin).
One cent coin (Penny)
The one cent coin bore two maple leaves on its reverse since the current coin designs were introduced in 1937 until its discontinuance in 2013.
For the list of commemorative one cent coins issued by the Mint, see: Penny (Canadian coin).
- Royal Canadian Mint: Faces of the Monarch.
- Royal Canadian Mint Currency Timeline, p. 5.
- Royal Canadian Mint Currency Timeline, p. 8.
- Royal Canadian Mint Currency Timeline, p. 9.
- The Royal Canadian Mint Currency Timeline, p. 7.
- Bank of Canada Museum: Scenes of Canada - One dollar note.
- Royal Canadian Mint Currency Timeline, p. 6.
- Royal Canadian Mint: Phasing out the Penny.