The Floral Emblems of Canada coin set from the Royal Canadian Mint celebrates the country’s 10 provinces and three territories with an exquisite pure silver piece featuring the floral emblem of each. Vintage silver jewellery was an acknowledged influence on the design. Artist Lisa Thomson-Khan used bold strokes and vibrant colours to recreate a Victorian style of painting on each portrait. The reverse proof finish gives a velvety-looking finish to each portrait and its elegant black background while adding sparkle to the surrounding silver filigree.
The coin set is a lesson in Canadian history, as the RCM is releasing each coin in the order in which the provinces became part of the Confederation. The third and fourth coins in the series recognize Nova Scotia and New Brunswick by featuring the mayflower and the purple violet, respectively.
Nova Scotia’s unofficial association with the mayflower dates back until at least the 19th century. Along with the shamrock and the thistle, it was featured on postage stamps of the time, and the 19th century Nova Scotia militia featured it on its buttons. The Novascotian, a newspaper that has since become a section of the Chronicle-Herald, featured the mayflower as a decorative motif on its front page starting in 1825. The provincial legislature formalized the relationship between the mayflower and Nova Scotia in 1901, declaring it to be and to have been the emblem of Nova Scotia from “time immemorial.”
Prevalent in Eastern North America, the mayflower’s range extends as far west as Manitoba. Also known as trailing arbutus, it is a creeping shrub that grows very close to the ground. The blossoms range in colour from pink to white and are approximately 1.3 cm in diameter. They fill forest glades with sweet scents during their blooming period from April to May.
Purple violet is a perennial herb growing in or near bodies of water throughout New Brunswick and Eastern Canada. Its alternative name, marsh blue violet, attests to its affinity for water. Since Canada is home to several species of violet that are all similar in appearance, it can be difficult to differentiate purple violet from the others. Look for swollen or club-tipped beard hairs on the lower side petals; purple violet is the only species that have them.
Like the mayflower, the purple violet is a humble, low-growing plant, typically only reaching approximately 20 centimetres. The leaves and flowers of the purple violet rise directly from the underground rootstock or rhizome. For this reason, purple violet is known as a stemless flower. Despite the name, the colour of the purple violet can range from dark blue to almost white.
Public input played a part in the selection of purple violet as New Brunswick’s official emblem, with the schoolchildren of the province, the Women’s Institute, and the Lieutenant Governor all having a say. The people’s voices were heard, and purple violet received official recognition as the emblem of New Brunswick in 1936.
The Floral Emblems of Canada coin set was not only inspired by vintage silver jewellery. Each can also be turned into a pendant and worn as jewellery. Where one comes from and where one lives can be a significant source of identity, and a coin pendant featuring the floral emblem of a Canadian province or territory can be a beautiful reflection of that identity.
While each coin can be purchased individually, collecting the entire 13-coin set could be both a source and an expression of Canadian pride. The first coin in the set was released in March 2020, and the Royal Canadian Mint will continue to release one per month until March 2021. Whether for yourself or as a gift for someone else, you can purchase each Floral Emblems coin individually from Colonial Acres as it is released.