Ottawa Mint, Canada

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Ottawa Mint
Ottawa Mint

For the first fifty years of Canadian coinage (cents meant to circulate in the Province of Canada were first struck in 1858), the coins were not struck in Canada. For the most part, they were struck at the Royal Mint in London, though some were struck at the private Heaton mint in Birmingham, England. With greater coinage needs, as well as Canada's emerging status as a nation in its own right, a need was seen for coinage to be struck within Canada. A branch of the Royal Mint was authorized to be built in Ottawa.

Established as the Ottawa branch of the Royal Mint, Governor General Lord Grey and Lady Grey activated the presses for the Canadian Mint on January 2, 1908. When the facility first opened, it had 61 employees. Three years later, the refinery opened, and in 1915 the mint chlorine method of gold refining was introduced. In its first years, both Canadian gold coins and British sovereigns were struck, but the disuse of gold as a coinage metal meant it was not until 1967 that gold coins were again struck.

The Ottawa facility on Sussex Drive passed from British into Canadian control in 1931, reporting to the Department of Finance. It was then renamed the Royal Canadian Mint. The mint struck medals for military and volunteer war service between 1945 and 1947 and began producing commemorative and collector coins during Canada's centennial in 1967.

In 1969 the Government of Canada reorganized the Royal Canadian Mint as a Crown corporation. In 2006, the Royal Canadian Mint's new silver refinery was commissioned. Customers bringing their gold to Ottawa for refining now have the opportunity to have the silver refined too.

The last surviving member of the Royal Canadian Mint original staff was Owen Toller. He started in the Royal Canadian Mint as a Junior Clerk and retired as an Administrative Officer. He retired after 45 years of service on January 6, 1953. At the age of 102 years, Mr. Toller died in November 1987.

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