Watch for this new toonie! Here’s the story behind it

CBC Kids News • Published 2020-08-04 06:00

Royal Canadian Mint marks 100 years since B.C. artist Bill Reid’s birth

If you’re a coin collector — or perhaps you’re given an allowance in toonies — there are two new special edition coins you should watch out for.

Starting today, the Royal Canadian Mint is putting new toonies in circulation to mark 100 years since B.C. artist Bill Reid’s birth.

Reid was a Haida artist. The Haida are a group of Indigenous people living in the Haida Gwaii archipelago, a group of islands off the coast of British Columbia.

A map showing the Haida Gwaii archipelago, a group of islands off the coast of British Columbia.

The $2 coins are branded with an image Reid painted on a ceremonial drum in 1998 called Xhuwaji, Haida Grizzly Bear

Here are the new coins to watch for:

TITLE: Toonies with Bill Reid’s Haida grizzly bear design, Xhuwaji   Top left - Collector version of the toonie in silver  Top right - Collector version of the toonie in gold   Bottom left - Black, white and red version of the toonie that will be in circulation   Bottom right - Uncoloured toonie that will be in circulation

The Haida grizzly bear was a favourite character of Reid’s and continues to act as an important symbol for the Haida Nation.

And now that symbol serves as the design.

A pile of the uncoloured and coloured $2 Bill Reid commemorative circulation coins.

Each year, the Royal Canadian Mint creates special circulation coins. This year, it is a $2 Bill Reid commemorative circulation coin. (Image credit: Royal Canadian Mint)

Reid died in 1998 of Parkinson's disease.

In his lifetime, he created more than 1,500 pieces of art, ranging from jewelry to monumental carvings and sculptures.

“Thanks to his timeless art, the artists who he inspired and apprenticed, and his role in introducing the world to Haida art and culture, he will never be forgotten and will forever be celebrated.” - Royal Canadian Mint

His work is known to have helped bring global recognition and respect to Northwest Coast art.

Hoping to get your hands on one of these unique coins?

There are three million new toonies in circulation as of today, two million of which are in full colour.

A photo of artist Bill Reid carving.

Bill Reid’s art ranges from jewelry to monumental carvings. (Image credit: Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art)


With files from CBC Radio’s As It Happens

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