George Manz is a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Numismatic Association and President of the Regina Coin Club. He submitted this article on Canada's First
Coins. Thanks. I added an image of a specimen cent from the Heritage site. -Editor
The first coins minted for Canada are dated 1858. But Canada in 1858 was much smaller than it is today. Back in 1858, the Province of Canada consisted of
Upper Canada (Canada West) and Lower Canada (Canada East). These small British colonies were in the southern part of what are now the provinces of Ontario and
After 1837-1838 rebellions in favor of responsible government in Lower Canada and Upper Canada were defeated, Lord Durham reported that only a united
government would end the animosity. And so the Act of Union of 1840 gave each province 42 seats in the Legislative Assembly of the united Province of
Eventually, moderate reforms were enacted such as responsible government and making French one of two official languages.
One of the duties of the government of the Province of Canada was to issue coins. And what coins they were. The series of coins dated 1858 were issued in
four denominations including large cents, silver 5 cents, silver 10 cents and silver 20 cents. All were minted in England.
The obverse of each coin depicted Queen Victoria wearing a laurel wreath in her hair. But by 1858, Victoria was an overweight and much older looking woman
than depicted on these coins.
The bronze large cents are my favorites in the series, partly because the coins were made to not only represent the value of the coin, but also because they
were designed for other functions as well. Each cent weighed exactly 4.54 grams, which meant that there were 100 cents in a pound. Also, the coins measured
25.4 mm, so that if you put 12 of them edge to edge, they would measure exactly one foot in length.
The silver 5 cents, 10 cents and 20 cents were made of Sterling silver. Interestingly, the 20 cents is a one-year denomination. Within a few years, the
government decided that it would be replaced by 25 cents coins.
A rare Specimen set of these 1858 coins will be on display at the Regina Coin Club fall show on October 19-20, 2019 at the Turvey Centre, just north of
For more information on the show, see:
Wayne Homren, Editor
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