Canada's iconic Loonie has turned 25. June 30 marked the anniversary of the coin and Canadian symbol. It was introduced to cut back on costs by the Government of Canada in 1987, but they did not know how much of a symbol it would become to the country.
Canadians welcomed the new coin in the late 1980s and said goodbye to a paper bill. It was nicknamed the Loonie instantly because of the solitary loon that was placed opposite the Queen. Wildlife artist Robert-Ralph Carmichael of Northern Ontario designed the loon, while the Mint's, Terrence N.E. Smith, performed the engraving. It is produced alongside the other Canadian coins in circulation in Winnipeg. The Mint claims that since its inaugural release in 1987 the Loonie has been produced 1.5 billion times.
Originally the Loonie was not meant to carry the loon, but to depict a voyageur. According to the mint's website the voyageur coin's master dies were actually lost in transit. They went missing as they were being delivered to Winnipeg in November, 1986. The Government of Canada then approved the newly designed coin featuring the loon in case someone intended to counterfeit the one-dollar coin with the missing dies.
Internationally recognized as a Canadian icon its 11 sides, brass colour, and inherent good luck became known during the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. This was when Trent Evans, a Canadian icemaker, buried a Loonie at centre ice.
Originally placed to assist in the puck-drop as the Olympic logo on the ice did not have the customary centre circle; but, when both the women's and men's teams went on to win gold the legend of the lucky Loonie developed. The world watched as a small menial item became a large symbol for the country, especially when the men's hockey team hadn't won the Olympic tournament in 50 years.
"When it was first introduced, the one-dollar coin represented the most significant change to Canada's coinage system in over 50 years and the Mint proudly played a lead role in making it a reality," said Ian E. Bennett, President and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint. "Looking back on how the world has evolved over the past 25 years, the Loonie has endured as a true Canadian symbol."
Over the years the Loonie has helped Canadians celebrate certain milestones and will continue to do so. In 1992 the 125th anniversary of Confederation coin was released depicting a block of Parliament Buildings with three children seated on the ground. 1995 recognized Canada's Peacekeeping efforts, while in 2005 it celebrated the 25th anniversary of Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope.
In 2009 the Montreal Canadiens celebrated a centennial and the mint released a commemorative circulation coin. Celebrating a centennial in 2010 were our Saskatchewan Roughriders who also received a circulatory commemorative coin. 2010 another special coin was circulated with an Inukshuk engraved on it for the Olympics. In 2011 it then celebrated Parks Canada's centennial, which featured achievements of our national parks system.
Something intrinsically Canadian is celebrated with the minting of a special commemorative coin, which will not be in circulation. A $1 silver coin has been released with a new design by Carmichael. Two common loons pass each other, one looking to the past and the other to the future, centered around the number "25." Only 15,000 are being produced and will be sold by the Royal Canadian Mint.