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The History of Canadian Silver Coins

The History of Canadian Silver Coins - Royal Bull

Although the use of currency in the land we now call Canada spans hundreds of years, and Canada became its own country in 1867, it wasn’t until Canada’s creation of the Ottawa branch of the Royal Mint that the country began creating its own currency. 

The Birth of Canadian Silver Coins

Creating our currency for the first time was a big deal for the fledgling country. On January 2, 1908 the first Canadian coin was minted: a silver 50-cent coin. By 1911 a new refinery was built to handle the large demand for Canadian currency, including silver coins made with 92.5% silver. 

Cost-Cutting Measures Lower Silver Content in Currency

But production at the Royal Mint here in Canada wasn’t all great news. World War I greatly increased the value of silver, so to reduce operating costs, by the end of the war the silver content in almost all Canadian silver coins dropped to only 80% silver.

In 1922, to further reduce costs, the Mint chose to convert its five-cent coin from silver to nickel.

Nickel was (and still is) relatively inexpensive. 

Launching a True Canadian Institution

Little change was exhibited over the next decade until 1931 when the Canadian branch of Great Britain’s Royal Mint became the Royal Canadian Mint. Shortly after being given this new autonomy, the Mint produced its first silver dollar and by 1937, it launched new coins to celebrate the new king, George VI and feature new Canadian elements on the reverse which are still in use today. 

In early 1953, a portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was for the first time on Canadian coinage, including all silver coins.

Silver Removed From Coins Around the World

In the following decade, the price of silver continued to be detrimental to the production of coinage at mints around the world. It was becoming too expensive to purchase to meet their needs. Many countries in this decade switched to making their coins from nickel or a copper-nickel hybrid, including Canada. The remaining silver coins’ precious metal content was reduced from 80% to 50%. 

The Royal Canadian Mint Celebrates With Silver

From the 1960s to today, many silver coin collectible coins have been launched by the Royal Canadian Mint to celebrate, commemorate and honour individuals, events and iconic Canadian elements that have a place in the hearts of Canadians. The most well-known is the Silver Maple Leaf coin, first produced in 1988 buoyed by the success of the Gold Maple Leaf coin. Each silver coin contains one troy ounce of 99.99% fine silver, which is still in production today and distributed to collectors and investors around the world.

Although the most recent silver coins have high numismatic and investment value, so do the earlier Canadian silver coins. They have higher silver content and are increasingly becoming rarer and rarer, with eager silver collectors adding them to their collections whenever they become available. 

Purchase a piece of Canadian history with the silver coins produced by the Royal Canadian Mint now available from Royal Bull.