Kitchener artist designs toonie for 75th anniversary of D-Day

Alan Daniel’s artwork was selected by the Royal Canadian Mint to mark the historic landing of Canadian troops on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944.

'In a sense, you're the unknown that's facing them,' artist Alan Daniel says

Alan Daniel is an artist based in Kitchener, Ont. He designed a special edition toonie for the 75th anniversary of D-Day. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

A Kitchener artist is helping to memorialize the 75th anniversary of D-Day with a special edition toonie.

Alan Daniel's artwork was selected by the Royal Canadian Mint to mark the historic landing of Canadian troops on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944.

The design depicts soldiers peering over the side of a landing craft as they arrive on Juno Beach.

"You're looking at them, they're looking at you, and in a sense, you're the unknown that's facing them," Daniel explained.

Daniel looked at archival photos and video as research for his design and says he tried to put himself in the boots of the soldiers.

Daniel says the artwork for the toonie was inspired by a painting he had originally created for the Navy. He uses a tablet to design his coins, before sending the final artwork to the Mint to be laser cut. (Submitted by Alan Daniel)

"Sometimes you look at a picture and you can almost see in their eyes what they're experiencing," he said.

"I began to imagine what it would be like for them, if they were looking out wondering what was going to happen. They were a few minutes away from they didn't know what. Even though with all their training, there were lots of things they didn't know."

Daniel has designed several other special edition coins for the Mint, including a silver commemorative coin for the 75th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid in 2017.

He says the challenge is creating artwork that can fit on such a small, circular surface, but is still rich in detail.

Daniel says he always starts by sketching out the initial design in pencil. This sketch became the basis for his 2017 silver commemorative coin on the anniversary of the Dieppe Raids. (Submitted by Alan Daniel)

For the D-Day toonie, he tried to include as much historical detail as possible. In the background of the scene, Spitfire planes are seen flying overhead.

"In my research, I found that the Spitfires had five black and white lines painted on the wings and on the fuselage so that they wouldn't be mistaken for German aircraft," he said.

Daniel considered removing the detail because it was so small but said the historian who vetted the design thought it was important to include.

The design was unveiled at a ceremony in Moncton, N.B., last Monday and the first toonie was presented to 99-year-old D-Day veteran Alphonse Vautour.

Three million of the toonies have already started to enter general circulation. Rolls of coins can also be purchased from the Royal Canadian Mint and some Canada Post outlets.

According to the Royal Canadian Mint the "riveting coin design by Canadian artist Alan Daniel is charged with tense anticipation as Canadian soldiers peer from their landing craft en route to Juno Beach. This compelling landing craft perspective extends beyond the inner core to the outer ring where naval and air forces support the Allied landings." (Submitted by the Royal Canadian Mint)


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