St. Catharines man's design chosen for Canada 150 loonie

Wesley Klassen's railroad-inspired design was selected by the Royal Canadian Mint after a national contest held to determine the designs for the Canada 150 circulation coins.

Wesley Klassen's railroad-inspired design was selected by the Royal Canadian Mint after a national contest

Wesley Klassen's design, voted for by Canadians, is inspired by the "iconic engineering achievements which dominate our landscape" that are connected by the railroad. (Royal Canadian Mint/Handout)

In a new series of coins unveiled by The Royal Canadian Mint to celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary, the 2017 circulation loonie will feature a winning design by St Catharines native Wesley Klassen.

The 50-year-old was selected as a finalist in the Mint's "My Canada, My Inspiration" contest, which launched in March last year and invited members of the public to create new designs for a 2017 circulation coin series celebrating Canada's sesquicentennial.

After over one million votes were cast online, Klassen's design won the popular vote for the coin celebrating the theme of "Our Achievements."

​"It's an amazing honour to have my artwork displayed the 2017 one-dollar coin and this will make my memories of Canada 150 that much more special for me and my family," said Klassen in a statement.

"I chose images that are in one way or another connected to the railroad, for which all Canadians can be forever grateful, and I'm touched that my design appealed to so many of them."

"These coins will stand the test of time as memorable keepsakes of a milestone in Canadian history," said Finance Minister Bill Morneau

According to the St. Catharines Standard, Klassen is an electrician with Ontario Power Generation, has no formal art training but enjoys painting, sketching and photography as a hobby. 

Each of the five winning designs will grace the 2017-dated two-dollar, one-dollar, 25-cent, 10-cent and 5-cent coins respectively. The winning designers each won $2,000 and a trip to Ottawa for the unveiling of their coins.

The winning design by Klassen is to be featured on the reverse side of the 2017 one-dollar coin, featuring landmarks such as the Lion's Gate Bridge, the CN Tower, and Quebec City's majestic Chateau Frontenac Hotel.

Klassen said the design, one of five selected to feature on the various 2017 circulation coins, drew from childhood memories of family vacations, "illustrating the iconic engineering achievements which dominate our landscape from east to west — all of which is connected by railroad." 

The finalists in each category were determined by the Royal Canadian Mint and a panel of notable Canadians.

Canadians can expect to find coins featuring the winning designs in their change next spring.