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Value 1 CAD
Mass 6.27g (was 7.00g before 2012[1]) g
Diameter 26.5[2] mm
Thickness 1.95 mm
Edge Eleven-sided, smooth
Composition 1987–2011
91.5% Ni,
8.5% bronze plating
(88% Cu, 12% Sn)

some coins used brass plating instead

brass plating
Years of minting 1987–present
Catalog number -
Canadian Dollar - obverse.png
Design Elizabeth II, Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada
Designer Susanna Blunt
Design date 2003
Canadian Dollar - reverse.png
Design Common loon in water
Designer Robert-Ralph Carmichael
Design date 1987

The Canadian one dollar coin, commonly called the loonie, is a gold-coloured one-dollar coin introduced in 1987. It bears images of a common loon, a bird which is common and well known in Canada, on the reverse, and of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse. It is produced by the Royal Canadian Mint at its facility in Winnipeg.

The coin's outline is an 11-sided curve of constant width. Its diameter of 26.5 mm and its 11-sidedness matched that of the already-circulating Susan B. Anthony dollar in the United States, and its thickness of 1.95 mm was a close match to the latter's 2.0 mm. Its gold colour differed from the silver-coloured Anthony dollar; however, the succeeding Sacagawea and Presidential dollars matched the loonie's overall hue. Other coins using a curve of constant width include the 7-sided British twenty pence and fifty pence coins (the latter of which has similar size and value to the loonie, but is silver in colour).

The coin has become the symbol of the Canadian dollar: media often discuss the rate at which the loonie is trading against other currencies. The nickname loonie (huard in French) became so widely recognized that in 2006 the Royal Canadian Mint secured the rights to it.[3] When the Canadian two-dollar coin was introduced in 1996, it was in turn nicknamed the "toonie" (a portmanteau of "two" and "loonie").


Canada first minted a silver dollar coin in 1935 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of George V's reign as king.[4] The voyageur dollar, so named because it featured an Indian and a French voyageur paddling a canoe on the reverse, was minted in silver until 1967, after which it was composed primarily of nickel.[5] The coins did not see wide circulation, mainly due to their size and weight; the nickel version weighed 15.6 grams (0.55 oz) and was 32.1 millimetres (1.26 in) in diameter,[6] and was itself smaller than the silver version.[7]

By 1982, the Royal Canadian Mint had begun work on a new composition for the dollar coin that it hoped would lead to increased circulation.[6] At the same time, vending machine operators and transit systems were lobbying the Government of Canada to replace the dollar banknotes with wider circulating coins. A Commons committee recommended in 1985 that the dollar bill be eliminated despite a lack of evidence that Canadians would support the move.[8] The government argued that it would save between $175 and $250 million over 20 years by switching from bills that had a lifespan of less than a year to coins that would last two decades.[9]


The government announced on March 25, 1986, that the new dollar coin would be launched the following year as a replacement for the dollar bill, which would be phased out.[10] It was expected to cost $31.8 million to produce the first 300 million coins, but through seigniorage (the difference between the cost of production and the coin's value), expected to make up to $40 million a year on the coins. From the proceeds, a total of $60 million over five years was dedicated toward funding the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.[11]

The failure of the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin in the United States had been considered and it was believed Americans refused to support the coin due to its similarity to their quarter coin and its lack of esthetic appeal.[8] In announcing the new Canadian dollar coin, the government stated it would be the same overall size as the Susan B. Anthony coin – slightly larger than a quarter – to allow for compatibility with American manufactured vending machines, but would be eleven-sided and gold-coloured.[10]

It was planned that the coin would continue using the voyageur theme of its predecessor, but the master dies that had been struck in Ottawa were lost in transit en route to the Mint's facility at Winnipeg.[12] A Commons committee struck to investigate the loss discovered that the Mint had no documented procedures for transport of master dies and that it had shipped them via a local courier in a bid to save $43.50. It was also found to be the third time that the Mint had lost master dies within five years.[13] An internal review by the Royal Canadian Mint argued that while a policy existed to ship the obverse and reverse dies separately, the new coin dies were packaged separately but were part of the same shipment. The Mint also disagreed with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's contention that the dies were simply lost in transit, believing instead that they were stolen.[14] The dies were never recovered.[12]

Fearing the possibility of counterfeiting, the government approved a new design for the reverse, replacing the voyageur with a Robert-Ralph Carmichael design of a common loon floating in water.[12] The coin was immediately nicknamed the "loonie" across English Canada, and became known as a "huard", French for "loon", in Quebec.[9] The loonie entered circulation on June 30, 1987, as 40 million coins were introduced into major cities across the country.[15] Over 800 million loonies had been struck by the coin's 20th anniversary.[16]

Two years after the loonie's introduction, the Bank of Canada ceased production of the dollar banknote. The final dollar bills were printed on June 30, 1989.[17] Initial support for the coin was mixed,[18] but withdrawing the banknote forced acceptance of the coin.[19]

The loonie has subsequently gained iconic status within Canada,[16] and is now regarded as a national symbol.[20] The term "loonie" has since become synonymous with the Canadian dollar itself.[21] The town of Echo Bay, Ontario, home of Robert-Ralph Carmichael, erected a large loonie monument in his honour in 1992 along the highway, similar to Sudbury's 'Big Nickel'.[22]

Lucky loonie

File:2010 Olympic Lucky Loonie.jpg
The 2010 Olympic "lucky" loonie

Officials for the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics invited the National Hockey League's ice making consultant, Dan Craig, to oversee the city's E Center arena, where the ice hockey tournament was being held. Craig invited a couple of members from the ice crew in his hometown of Edmonton to assist. One of them, Trent Evans, secretly placed a loonie at centre ice. He originally placed a dime, but added the loonie after the smaller coin quickly vanished as the ice surface was built up.[23] He placed the coins after realizing there was no target at centre ice for referees to aim for when dropping the puck for a faceoff. A thin yellow dot was painted on the ice surface over the coins, though the loonie was barely visible to those who knew to look for it.[24]

Keeping the coin a secret, Evans told only a few people of its placement and swore them to secrecy. Among those told were the players of the men's and women's teams.[24] Both Canadian teams went on to win gold medals. Several members of the women's team kissed the spot where the coin was buried following their victory.[23] After the men won their final, the coin was dug up and given to Wayne Gretzky, the team's executive-director, who revealed the existence of the "lucky loonie" at a post-game press conference.[25]

The lucky loonie quickly became a piece of Canadian lore.[26] The original lucky loonie was donated to the Hockey Hall of Fame,[27] and Canadians have subsequently hidden loonies at several international competitions.[28] Loonies were buried in the foundations of facilities built for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.[29]

Capitalizing on the tradition, the Royal Canadian Mint has released a commemorative edition "lucky loonie" for each Olympic Games since 2004.[28]


The weight of the coin was originally specified as 108 grains, equivalent to 6.998 grams.[30]

When introduced, loonie coins were made of Aureate, a bronze-electroplated nickel combination. Beginning in 2007, some loonie blanks also began to be produced with a cyanide-free brass plating process. In the spring of 2012, the composition switched to multi-ply brass-plated steel. As a result, the weight dropped from 7.00 to 6.27 grams. This has resulted in the 2012 loonie not being accepted in some vending machines.[31] The Toronto Parking Authority estimates that at about $345 per machine, it will cost about $1 million to upgrade almost 3,000 machines to accept the new coins. The Mint states that multi-ply plated steel technology, already used in Canada's smaller coinage, produces an electromagnetic signature that is harder to counterfeit than that for regular alloy coins; also, using steel provides cost savings and avoids fluctuations in price or supply of nickel.[1][32]

On April 10, 2012, the Royal Canadian Mint announced design changes to the loonie and toonie, which include new security features.[33][34]

Commemorative editions

The design has been changed several times for commemorative editions:

# Year Theme Artist Mintage Special notes
1 1992 125th Anniversary of the Confederation[35] Rita Swanson 23,010,000 Showing children and the Parliament Building. The regular loon design was also minted that year bearing the double date "1867-1992".
2 1994 Remembrance Design[36] RCM Staff 15,000,000 Image of the National War Memorial in Ottawa.
3 1995 Peacekeeping Monument[36] J.K. Harman, R.G. Enriquez, C.H. Oberlander, Susan Taylor 41,813,100 (see note) Included in 1995 Loon Mintage.
4 2004 Olympic Lucky Loonie[37] R.R. Carmichael 6,526,000 1st Lucky Loonie.
5 2005 Terry Fox Stan Witten 12,909,000[38] Fox is the first Canadian citizen to be featured on a circulated Canadian coin. There are versions that exist without grass on the reverse of the coin.[37]
6 2006 Olympic Lucky Loonie Jean-Luc Grondin 2,145,000[38] 2nd Lucky Loonie.
7 2008 Olympic Lucky Loonie Jean-Luc Grondin 10,000,000 3rd Lucky Loonie. Part of the RBC Vancouver 2010 Coin Set.
8 2009 Montreal Canadiens Centennial Loonie Susanna Blunt 10,000,000[39] To Commemorate the 100th anniversary celebration of the Montreal Canadiens professional hockey team. Circulated only in the province of Quebec at Metro(c) Grocery Stores.
9 2010 Olympic Lucky Loonie RCM Staff 11,000,000 4th Lucky Loonie with the 2010 Vancouver winter Olympic symbol ilanaaq, an inukshuk. Part of the RBC Vancouver 2010 Coin Set.
10 2010 Navy Centennial Bonnie Ross 7,000,000[40] To commemorate the Centennial of the Canadian Navy Features a Halifax-class Frigate below anchor, a 1910 naval serviceman and a modern-day female naval officer.
11 2010 Saskatchewan Roughriders Centennial Suzanna Blunt 3,000,000[41] To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Features the Roughriders logo along with a stylized 100.
12 2011 Parks Canada Centennial [42] Nolin BBDO Montreal[43] To celebrate Parks Canada’s 100th anniversary. Features stylized land, air and aquatic fauna, varieties of flora, as well as a symbolic park building and the silhouette of a hiker framed by a snow-capped mountain range.[43]
13 2012 Olympic Lucky Loonie Emily Damstra 5,000,000 5th Lucky Loonie. Features a common loon with its wings spread, the Olympic rings and laser etched maple leaf.[44]
14 2012 100th Grey Cup RCM Staff 5,000,000[45] To celebrate the 100th Grey Cup. Features the Grey Cup with "100th Grey Cup" in English and French
15 2014 Olympic Lucky Loonie Emily Damstra 6th Lucky Loonie. Features a common loon with its wings spread and sits on a lake water, the Canadian Olympic Team logo, and laser etched maple leaf.[46]

Specimen set editions

The Big Loonie in Echo Bay, Ontario.
Year Theme Artist Mintage Issue price
2002 15th Anniversary Loonie[47] Dora de Pédery-Hunt 67,672 $39.95
2004 Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary[48] Susan Taylor 46,493 $39.95
2005 Tufted puffin[49] N/A 39,818 $39.95
2006 Snowy owl[50] Glen Loates 39,935 $44.95
2007 Trumpeter swan Kerri Burnett 40,000 $45.95
2008 Common eider Mark Hobson 40,000 $47.95
2009 Great blue heron Chris Jordison 40,000 $47.95
2010 Northern harrier Arnold Nogy 35,000 $49.95
2011 Great gray owl Arnold Nogy 35,000 $49.95
2012 25th Anniversary Loonie Arnold Nogy 35,000 $49.95
2013 Blue-winged teal look[clarification needed] Glen Loates 50,000 $49.95
2014 Ferruginous hawk loon Trevor Tennant 50,000 $49.95
2015 Blue jay Brent Townsend 30,000 $49.95

First strikes

Year Theme Mintage Issue Price
2005 Common loon 1,944 $14.95
2005 Terry Fox[37] 19,949 $14.95
2006 Lucky Loonie 20,010 $15.95
2006 With New Mint Mark 5,000 $29.95

See also


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  4. Cross 2011, p. 195
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  7. Cross 2011, p. 206
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  48. Charlton Standard Catalogue of Canadian Coins, 62nd Edition, p. 236
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External links