Last updated on June 26th, 2020 at 02:38 am
Last Updated on June 26, 2020 Posted by Colonial Acres Coins
In 1986 the Canadian government decided to replace the one dollar banknote with a new one dollar coin. This was not a particularly popular decision with the general public. There were a number of reasons for replacing the note with a coin but the predominant reason given by the government was that the notes only lasted a couple of years in circulation. Constantly replacing worn out one dollar notes was costly, however one dollar coins could last a couple of decades and save the country millions of dollars in printing costs. Once the new coin was introduced, the central bank phased out the one dollar banknotes within a couple of years.
Canada’s first dollar coin was not the “Loonie”
Interestingly, this was not Canada’s first one dollar coin. The country minted its first one dollar coins in 1935 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the reign of King George V. The coin featured an image of a voyageur on the reverse. Produced with high silver content, these coins were relatively large and heavy, therefore not very popular with the public and typically only kept as collector’s items.
Despite the fact that there was pressure from vending machine operators, transit companies and municipalities (who favoured using the coins in parking meters) to introduce the dollar coins because they wanted to raise prices in coin-operated equipment, the Canadian government was somewhat skeptical and hesitant. Part of the reason for the government’s skepticism was the failure of the Susan B. Anthony dollar in the United States. That dollar coin was unpopular because it looked too similar to a 25-cent coin.
When designing the new dollar coin, the government decided the Canadian dollar had to be the same size as the Susan B. Anthony dollar so that it could be used in American-made vending machines. The difference was that it would have 11 sides and be gold in colour to clearly differentiate it from a 25-cent coin or quarter.
Lost in Transit
Initially, the Royal Canadian Mint had decided to continue with the theme of the original silver dollar coin first produced in 1935 and put the image of the voyageur on the reverse, but the master dies struck in Ottawa were “lost” or “stolen” while in transit to the minting facility in Winnipeg. Apparently, the Mint, rather than using a security firm to take the master dies to Winnipeg, had hired a courier to do the transport and in the process, the dies had disappeared so, amid fears of counterfeiting, a new design was commissioned. It was the third time in five years that the mint had ‘lost’ master dies and the dies have never been seen again. The new coin, created by Robert-Ralph Carmichael, featured a common loon floating on water.
When the coin was released, several names were proposed for the new coin but because of the loon on the design the dollar coin was commonly referred to as the “loonie” and the name just stuck. Although not enthusiastically received by the public, Canadians were forced to accept the “loonie” when the Mint ceased printing the dollar notes in April 1989 and to date more than 80 million one dollar coins have been distributed to banks throughout Canada. Later when the $2 coin was introduced it featured a polar bear but was nicknamed the “toonie” in keeping with the “loonie”. There is a market for Loonies and all reputable Canadian coin dealers regularly sell variations of the coin. If you are looking for an early Loonie, Colonial Acres can help you as we have a wide selection available for sale from various years.