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Voyageur dollar

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Voyageur dollar
Value1 CAD
Mass15.62 g
Diameter1935-1967 36 mm, 1968-1987 32.15 mm
Thickness2.88 mm
80% Ag, 20% Cu
99.9% Ni
Years of minting1968–1987
Catalog number
DesignVoyageur and an aboriginal travelling by canoe[1][2]
DesignerEmanuel Hahn

The voyageur dollar is a coin of Canada that was struck for circulation from 1935 through 1986. Until 1968, the coin was composed of 80% silver. A smaller, nickel version for general circulation was struck from 1968 through 1986. In 1987, the coin was replaced by the loonie. Like all of Canada's discontinued coins, the voyageur dollar coins remain legal tender.





On May 4, 1910, the Canadian government passed an amendment to the Currency Act (Bill 195) which, among other things, called for the requirement of a Canadian silver dollar.[3] James Bonar, Deputy Master of the Royal Mint, had ordered the master dies for this new dollar on November 10, 1910. Production of the dies was delayed, and they were not delivered to the Mint until nearly a year later. By the time the dies arrived, Sir Robert Borden had won his Canadian election, and cancelled the production of the silver dollar. While no official reason was given from the Borden government about the cancellation, a letter from Bonar attributes the coin's removal to the absence of a reference to God (Dei gratia rex), which created controversy among Canadians at the time.[3] The obverse dies, featuring the bust of King George V, would still be preserved until 1936, used with the first silver dollars to enter circulation.[4] Three trial strikes of silver dollars were produced in 1911 by the Royal Mint in London: two struck in silver, and one in lead. One of the silver coins, owned by the Royal Mint Museum, has been loaned to the Bank of Canada since 1976, while the lead coin was discovered during a move in 1977.[3] The two were put into the National Currency Collection of the Bank of Canada, and have been on display in the Bank of Canada Museum since 1980.

Silver Jubilee

1935 Canadian voyageur dollar, commemorating King George V's Silver Jubilee

In 1935, a commemorative silver dollar was struck for King George V's Silver Jubilee. It showed the King on the obverse (front) and, a canoe containing a voyageur, (French-Canadian fur trader) and an Indigenous man, on the reverse (back). The canoe also contains two bundles of furs—on one, the initials HB, for Hudson's Bay Company may be seen. The reverse was designed by Emanuel Hahn.[5] This coin marked the beginning of silver Canadian dollars in circulation, which continued until 1968, when the coin's composition shifted from silver to nickel.[6]

Struck in silver


The issue was generally considered a success, and beginning in 1936, the silver dollar (in .800 fine silver) was struck more-or-less annually as a regular issue for general circulation, with the same reverse design as in 1935. Although commemorative dollars were struck for circulation for the visit of King George VI in 1939, no regular-issue dollars were struck that year, as well as until the end of World War II in 1945. Thereafter, voyageur dollars were struck each year through 1966, except in years when a commemorative dollar was struck for circulation (e.g. 1939, 1949, 1958 1964). In 1967, a special "flying goose" design was struck for the Canadian Centennial.

Struck in nickel


Beginning in 1968, following the 1967 Canadian Centennial series, the voyageur dollar design resumed. It was now struck in pure nickel, following the decision to debase Canada's coinage from silver to nickel. The change to this harder metal lead to the diameter of the coin being reduced from 36 mm to 32 mm, as it made minting considerably easier.[6] From then on, the series was only interrupted for circulating commemorative issues, except for those produced in 1982 (Constitution Acts dollar) and 1984 (Jacques Cartier dollar), where the voyageur design was also produced. It was last struck for circulation in 1986 and for collectors in 1987.

Change to the loonie


Neither the silver nor nickel dollars circulated well although the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) saw a need for a circulating dollar coin. Since a one-dollar coin could last 20 years longer than a one-dollar bill, they calculated that they could save up to $250 million in 20 years.[7] To encourage circulation, the size was reduced, the colour was changed, and the one-dollar note was eliminated from circulation.

Originally, the plans called for the voyageur design to be continued on the new gold-coloured dollar coin. This set of dies depicting the design was lost in transit.[8] To eliminate the risk of counterfeiting, an alternate design submitted by Robert-Ralph Carmichael in a 1978 coin design contest, featuring a loon, was used.[9] This became known as the loonie.

Commemorative editions


In 2003, in special proof sets honouring the fiftieth anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the voyageur design was struck again in sterling silver in a limited edition of 30,000. In 2017, the RCM issued special edition one-dollar coins in silver and gold with platinum plating to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the introduction of the loonie, with one of the coins utilizing its design, intended as a new version for the current dollar coin, but bearing the dual dates "1987–2017".

In 2018, the RCM issued 5-troy-ounce (160 g) and 1 kg special-edition one-dollar fine-silver voyageur coins with gold plating. The latter is 102 mm in diameter and limited to 350 coins.[10]

Commemorative editions of the Voyageur dollar
Image Year Theme Artist Mintage[11] Special notes
1939 The Royal Visit Emanuel Hahn 1,363,816 Designed to commemorate King George VI and Queen Elizabeth's visit to Ottawa. Inscribed are the Latin words Fide suorum regnat, meaning "He reigns by the faith of his people".
1949 Newfoundland joins Confederation Ernest Maunder 672,218 The design features the Matthew, sailed by John Cabot when he first arrived in Newfoundland in 1497. Below the ship are the Latin words Floreat Terra Nova, meaning "May the New Found Land flourish".
1958 100th anniversary of British Columbia Stephen Trenka 3,039,630 Designed to commemorate 100 years since both the Cariboo Gold Rush and the creation of British Columbia as a British Crown colony.[2] The design features a totem pole in the foreground, with the Rocky Mountains in the background.
1964 100th anniversary of the Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences Thomas Shingles 7,296,832 The design features the French fleur-de-lis, the Irish shamrock, the Scottish thistle, and the English rose.
1967 Canada's Centennial Alex Colville 6,767,496 The design features a Canada goose in flight.
1970 100th anniversary of the accession of Manitoba Raymond Taylor 4,140,058 The design features a prairie crocus, the provincial flower of Manitoba.
1971 100th anniversary of the accession of British Columbia Thomas Shingles 4,260,781 The design features British Columbia's coat of arms, as well as its provincial flower, the dogwood.
1973 100th anniversary of the accession of Prince Edward Island Walter Ott 3,196,452 The design features Province House.
1974 100th anniversary of Winnipeg Patrick Brindley 2,799,363 The design features the number 100, surrounded on top and bottom by lettering "Winnipg" and "1874–1974 Canada dollar" respectively. Inside the two zeroes are illustrations of Winnipeg's Main Street in 1874 (left) and 1974 (right)[2]
1982 Constitution Acts of 1867 and 1982 Ago Aarand 9,709,402 The design features a recreation of a painting of the Fathers of Confederation.
1984 450th anniversary of Jacques Cartier arriving on the Gaspé Peninsula. Hector Greville 7,009,323 The design features explorer Jacque Cartier in front of a cross with the French coat of arms.


  1. ^ "Striking in its solitude – the 1-dollar coin, familiarly known as the 'loonie'". Royal Canadian Mint. Archived from the original on November 3, 2019. Retrieved November 26, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c Royal Canadian Mint. "1 Dollar". Retrieved November 25, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c "The 1911 silver dollar". Bank of Canada Museum. Retrieved December 1, 2022.
  4. ^ Lynch, Abigael (January 6, 2022). "Bank of Canada Museum acquires 1911 silver dollar deemed country's greatest rarity". Capital Current. Retrieved December 1, 2022.
  5. ^ "CANADIAN SILVER DOLLARS (VOYAGEURS AND COMMEMORATIVES)". Archived from the original on February 3, 2022. Retrieved November 26, 2022.
  6. ^ a b Cross, W. K. (ed.). A Charlton Standard Catalogue Canadian Coins (60th ed.). p. 168. ISBN 978-0889682979.
  7. ^ 1987: Introducing the Loonie, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, archived from the original on September 23, 2015, retrieved December 2, 2022
  8. ^ "The loonie, a Canadian touchstone, is turning 20". CTV News. Canadian Press. June 27, 2007. Retrieved 2012-01-15.
  9. ^ "Check your pockets! You could be carrying a piece of local history". SooToday. June 24, 2018. Retrieved December 2, 2022.
  10. ^ "Largest 'Voyageur' coin ever issued at 1,006 grams". Canadian Coin News. 2018-11-06. Retrieved 2019-03-12.
  11. ^ Michael, Thomas (ed.). 2017 Standard Catalog of World Coins 1901-2000 (44th ed.). Krause Publications. pp. 323–330. ISBN 978-1440246548.