Robert-Ralph Carmichael, the northern Ontario artist who designed the loon on the one-dollar coin, has died.

Carmichael, who was 79, was from the town of Echo Bay, just outside of Sault Ste. Marie.

The thrill of crafting the image that became iconic for many Canadians never wore off, Carmichael said in an interview with CBC 20 years after the coin was first released.

"To get one that was going to be used by the public, everywhere, it was quite a sensation to me."

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He did many drawings for the Canadian mint over the years, including an Arctic loon, which was initially rejected for the one-dollar coin.

But Carmichael's career was likely defined by a phone call he received around Christmas in 1986. It was the Canadian mint again, informing the artist that a plan to put two canoeists on the new one-dollar coin had fallen through.

They wanted to know if he was still interested in providing his loon.

The rest, they say, is history.

"[They asked] if I would like to moderate my Arctic loon into a common loon and, of course, that meant changing the landscape as well," Carmichael said,  "I like to think that the paddlers are just on the other side of that island."

Listen to a 2007 interview with Ralph Robert Carmichael, the artist who helped design Canada's 'loonie.'

With files from Erik White. Edited/packaged by Casey Stranges