Robert-Ralph Carmichael, Echo Bay artist who designed Canada's loonie, dies

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

The image of the common loon wasn't even supposed to be on the one dollar coin, artist said

Robert Ralph Carmichael, the artist who provided the Canadian mint with the iconic 'loonie,' passed away Monday. (Nael Shiab/Radio-Canada)

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."

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.'

We pay tribute to Echo Bay artist Ralph Robert Carmichael. He's the man who designed the loon for the one-dollar coin 30 years ago. We spoke to him back in 2007 when he told us about how his work came to be on the one dollar coin. 2:52

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

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