Canadian Geographic
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Geography of coins


You can find a little bit of the Royal Canadian Mint right in your pocket. Actually, you can find our Mint in the pockets of the world. Founded in 1908 in Ottawa as the Canadian branch of the British Royal Mint, the Royal Canadian Mint is responsible today for producing circulation, numismatic and bullion coins for Canada and a growing number of countries.

Among the world’s savvy coin-makers and collectors, the Mint has earned wide recognition for innovation and high standards; its patented multi-ply plated steel technology is one example. Among Canadians, the Mint is known for celebrating the great moments and personalities of the country’s history and culture, such as the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games. Some of the Mint’s coins, such as the “loonie,” have become beloved cultural icons in their own right.

In 1931, the Royal Mint’s branch in Ottawa became the Royal Canadian Mint, a wholly Canadian institution, and in 1969, it became a commercial Crown corporation. As such, it operates as a for-profit enterprise. Over the past decade, its revenues have skyrocketed — from $302.6 million in 2000 to $2.2 billion in 2010 — largely due to a booming business in gold and silver refining services and bullion sales. (Bullion is precious metal, such as gold and silver, that is either minted into coins or cast into ingots and kept as an investment rather than being placed into circulation.)

The Mint operates two facilities. At its original home in Ottawa, handcrafted commemorative coins and medals are produced from base and precious metals, some enhanced with special effects such as colour enamel, holograms, Venetian glass and Swarovski crystals. The Ottawa facility also produces platinum, gold, palladium and silver bullion coins, wafers and bars for the investment market and refines gold and silver for worldwide clients.

At its state-of-the-art facility in Winnipeg, approximately one billion Canadian circulation coins are struck each year. The Mint also has the capacity to produce some two billion circulation coins or ready-to-strike blanks (metal discs onto which coins are struck) per year for foreign governments.

There are a few currency responsibilities that fall outside the realm of the Royal Canadian Mint. For instance, it doesn’t print or manage the circulation of banknotes; that’s the responsibility of the Bank of Canada. Nor does it have the authority to introduce or eliminate coin denominations; the Government of Canada controls that through the Department of Finance. And it doesn’t store any gold that constitutes reserves of the national treasury or the Bank of Canada.


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What is the picture on the Canadian 50-cent piece?

Sir John A Macdonald
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