By Lola Augustine Brown Photo: The Royal Canadian Mint.
If you check your pocket over the summer, you might find something special in your spare change. The Royal Canadian Mint is releasing new coins into general circulation in honour of the Canada’s 150th anniversary, and if you find an anniversary toonie, you’ll know it—especially after dark. The world’s first bimetallic coloured coin—it’s painted and made of two kinds of metal— the new toonie is also the world’s first circulating coin to feature glow-in the-dark artwork. (The Mint’s first glow-in-dark coin was a limited-edition quarter minted in 2012 that won an international award for Most Innovative Coin.)
Designed by Richmond, BC, physician Dr. Timothy Hsia and selected from among 10,000 submissions, “Dance of the Spirits” depicts two paddlers marvelling at Canada’s Northern Lights.
The designs for the other coins in the Canada 150 series were also chosen from among the entries to a contest called My Canada, My Inspiration. Joelle Wong of Richmond Hill, ON, was eight years old when she submitted the design for the new quarter, some of which are also painted (although they aren’t luminous); her “Hope for a Green Tomorrow” features a turtle, a bird, and a beaver rendered in a style inspired by aboriginal art.
The nickel, “Living Traditions,” by Gerald Gloade of Millbrook First Nation, NS, features a swimming beaver—the nickel’s icon re-imagined, the artist said, “through the eyes of my own First Nations culture.” The new loonie, “Connecting a Nation,” was designed by Wesley Klassen of St. Catharines, ON, and celebrates the role of the railway in Canada’s history, and the dime, by Calgary’s Amy Choi, is called “Wings of Peace.”
As only three million glow-in-the-dark toonies will be in circulation, you might not be fortunate enough to find one—especially since those who do get one are likely to hang on to it—but you can pick up the whole set of five coins for $19.95 while supplies last at the Mint’s boutiques in Winnipeg, Vancouver, and Ottawa or from the online store: mint.ca. Meanwhile, keep checking your change.