Tag Archives: Canadiana

A Nickel of My Thoughts on the Death of the Penny

The Death of the Penny

On February 4, the Royal Canadian Mint and financial institutions across Canada stopped distributing the Canadian one-cent piece. Production on the penny had ceased in May of 2012 looking forward to February 2013 when the penny would no longer be sent out to clink around in the pockets of Canadians. On that same day in February, the Canadian Mint began melting down the first of the 35 billion pennies in circulation.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty shows the last penny produced in Canada. (Keep an eye on Ebay).

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty shows the last penny produced in Canada. (Keep an eye on Ebay).

One-Cent Worth of Patriotism

All Canadian coins minted between Confederation (1867) and 1935 have included the proud maple leaf but the penny has always shown it like no other. The first penny was produced on January 2, 1908 and was struck by Countess Grey at the official opening of the Ottawa branch of the Royal Mint (renamed in 1931 to the Royal Canadian Mint). The modern 1-cent coin that features two maple leaves on the same twig was designed and created by G.E. Kruger Gray. It was first used in 1937 and has remained unchanged until 2013 with the exception of the 1967 centennial coin, which used a rock dove, designed by renowned Canadian artist Alex Colville.

1967-Centennial-Penny

The 1967 Centennial Penny

It Costs to Save Pennies

The beloved and seemingly pointless one-cent coin costs Canada 1.6 cents to produce and therefore the mint will melt down the 82-million kg of steel, nickel and copper-plating that remains in circulation and selling it.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is indeed correct to say that eliminating the penny will save Canadian tax-payers but his estimated 11 million dollars savings per year in production costs will actually result in a less impressive but still worthy $4 million savings. The cost to redeem the 6 billion coins will cost the Canadian government about $80 million over the next 6 years. The $80 million expense is a result of about $53 million to redeem the face-value of the 6 billion pennies jangling about in people’s pockets, and an impressive $27 million in administration, handling, and little signs that will be placed on fountains throughout Canada informing romantics that wishes now cost a nickel or higher.

Toronto's Mayor, Lord Ford at Edmonton's City Hall. On an earlier trip, Ford had become enamoured with Edmonton's Skating Rink by Winter, Wading Pool Fountain in the Summer. Ford visited his favourite versatile fountain with a little present. Even with tight security, Ford was overheard whispering to the fountain, "join me and we can rule the fountains."

Toronto’s Mayor, Lord Ford at Edmonton’s City Hall. On an earlier trip, Ford had become enamoured with Edmonton’s Skating Rink by Winter, Wading Pool Fountain in the Summer. Ford visited his favourite versatile fountain with a little present. Even with tight security, Ford was overheard whispering to the fountain, “join me and we can rule the fountains.”

Recycling the zinc and copper from melted-down pennies will bring in about $42.5 million in revenue. That, and the additional savings of $11 million per year, Canada will walk away with a savings of about $4 million per year over the 6 years it is expected to collect most of the circulating pennies.

A Pretty Penny

It will be great to save all that money in producing the penny but perhaps the Canadian government is missing an opportunity to make a little extra.

When King Edward VIII abdicated the throne in order to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson, the Mint was just finishing up the tools to produce the new 1937 penny with the new king’s portrait. While the 1936 penny still had the image of King Henry V, the 1937 penny recycled the 1936 penny die along with a new portrait of the abdicating king’s on the reverse. To differentiate between the 1936 and 1937 pennies, the mint included a dot below the 1936 date to mark it as the 1937 penny.

The 1937 Penny. CanadianCultureThing is accepting any of these useless, cumbersome hunks of junk...email me...2 cents a piece guaranteed!

The 1937 Penny. CanadianCultureThing is accepting any of these useless, cumbersome hunks of junk…email me…2 cents a piece guaranteed!

This of course makes this penny quite rare, there are only seven known rare dot coin specimens known to exist, as all other specimens are believed to have been melted by the mint. It might be worthwhile for the Mint to hire some students to pick through the pennies they collect and pull out any rare ones. I’m not a coin collector but being a comic book collector, it would horrify me to know that Marvel was collecting any comics they found and were recycling them. The idea that they would destroy an Avengers #4 amongst a heap of Alpha Flights sends me into a tizzy.

CanadianCultureThing postcard #0018 features Liberty Magazine from December 1959. The Duke of Windsor was a title created for Edward once he abdicated the throne. This issue of Liberty also featured an ongoing concern that Canadians were facing in late 1959 - a dollar valued higher than the U.S. Canadian businesses that relied heavily on American patronage we forced to take the greenback at par and sometimes even sweeten the deal with incentives.

CanadianCultureThing postcard #0018 features Liberty Magazine from December 1959. The Duke of Windsor was a title created for Edward once he abdicated the throne. This issue of Liberty also featured coverage of an ongoing concern faced by Canadians in late 1959 – a dollar valued higher than the U.S! Canadian businesses that relied heavily on American patronage were forced to take the greenback at par and sometimes even sweeten the deal with incentives.

Now, that’s crazy-talk you might say but these precious 1937 pennies are worth a pretty penny (I couldn’t resist). These King Edward VIII pennies fetch as much as $402,500. In other words, ten of these little coins equals the $4 million dollars the Canadian government is going to save. Not to mention the other rare pennies they’ll come across. Now that’s worth enough to have a guy hand sort them.

Because the Royal Canadian Mint still doesn’t know what they’re going to do with any American pennies they collect, it might be possible to separate all those American pennies at the same time and let the U.S. redeem them from us. Ca-ching!

A Fishy Situation

While the beautiful koi swimming in Chinese restaurant ponds might want to take a deep figurative breath that they will be safe from copper toxicity, and only in danger of getting pelted with monetary projectiles, they will be disappointed to learn that pennies aren’t the end of copper coins. In fact, every Canadian coin, except the $1 coin, is made of copper of varying quantities.

Koi doing what koi do best. symptoms of copper toxicity are gasping at the surface and disorientation.

Koi doing what koi do best. symptoms of copper toxicity are gasping at the surface and disorientation.

Pennies are Icky

While the death of the penny might fill Canadians with varying degrees of sentimentality, remorse and reluctant acceptance, it will certainly be relief for one group of Canadians. People with cuprolaminophobia will find solace in the death of the copper sibling of the coins that fuel their phobia. While people suffering from cuprolaminophobia are repulsed by all coins, the copper coin seems to bring far greater dread, even to those with mild cases. While some might read into that as some racial profiling, the truth is that this is often developed in childhood. the taste of a copper coin brings to mind the taste of blood and this connection seems to have remained with many people throughout their lives.

For those of you who failed third grade math, here's how you'll deal without the penny.

For those of you who failed third grade math, here’s how you’ll deal without the penny.

Other (sort of) True Canadian Penny News:

  • Thoughts will now be a nickel but a lucky penny will still be a lucky penny, perhaps even luckier for it’s rarity.
  • Penny (played by Kaley Cuoco who dated Canadian actor-model Kevin Zegers) from the Big Bang Theory, the television show that follows the “Big Bang Theory Theme” by Canadian super-group the Barenaked Ladies, will still remain in circulation.
  • Penny from Inspector Gadget, co-produced by Canadian animation giant Nelvana, is still no longer in circulation.
  • Penny Marshall, Television’s Laverne of Laverne and Shirley, worked at a fictitious Milwaukee brewery called “Shotz Brewery“. Shotz was based entirely on a Labbatt’s/Molson-esque brewery and had nothing to do with the fact that Milwaukee was once the home to four of the world’s largest beer breweries (Schlitz, Blatz, Pabst and Miller), and was the number one beer producing city in the world for many years…um…ah…because Canada invented Beer…and Laverne and Shirley were Canadian spies in the War of 1812.
  • Other countries have also nixed the penny, including Australia, Finland, New Zealand, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden.

Now that Canada has eliminated the one-cent coin, there is still the issue of the United States continuing to use the penny. What to do? What to do? I can recall vividly, traveling and living in the U.S. and I can remember times when some cashier went out of their way to make me feel worthless, a bit of a penny one might say. These were times when I was making a purchase and a lowly Canadian penny was mixed in with coins! The cashier would give me a look of disgust, segregate my Canadian penny, and push it back across the counter as if I had attempted to pull one over on her. Old ladies would clutch their purses and I would be treated like some penniless drifter.

Well now, here we are with some pretty strong currency and no longer using that lowly penny. I suggest we ready our index fingers and, while continuing to be polite because we should be better than to make them feel ashamed about their little Lincoln-headed (I think the other side is a radiator), but push it back across the counter all the same. Pay-back’s a bitch, eh?

Goodbye one-cent coin. You will be remembered like the one, two and one thousand dollar notes and you will be sort of missed.

In case you still don't get it.

In case you still don’t get it.


Some suggestions for your Thanksgiving Festivities…

 


Our Vacation in Ontario comic book

Here’s a very cool tourist giveaway comic book I found a short while ago. It was created, printed and published in Canada by G.W. Hogarth and the Division of Publicity, Department of Travel and Publicity, in authority with Baptist Johnston, Printer to the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty (no pressure) Toronto, Ontario. There is no mention of artist although there could be a signature hiding in a panel somewhere and my guess is it was published circa 1952. If anyone has any additional information, please be sure to let me know.

Reproduced below is the entire comic book of Our Vacation in Ontario, cover to cover.

Continue reading


We’ve Been Framed!

Billie Hallam, Miss Toronto 1937.

CanadianCultureThing now has Prints. These awesome prints are sure to make your environment that much better. Say, if you lived in an igloo, you could put up the Animated Map of Canada and POW! you’ve got some colour to add some pizzazz to all that white snow and ice. It might be so flashy that you’ll have to reach for your Inuktitut Snow Goggles just to look at it.

Animated Map of Canada c1935.

Or maybe you’re a Torontonian lumberjack, living up a tree in B.C. and you’re getting awfully sick and tired of all that green, all that blue sky and you need something to balance the pristine beauty of a Canadian forest. So you reach for your black and white print of Yonge Street at rush-hour, with streetcars, cars and people, oh my!

Looking north on Yonge Street from north of Queen Street. 1:15pm, January 12, 1929 Toronto.

Or maybe you’re from Vancouver and were forced at finger-point (we don’t do things at gun-point) to go work in Toronto and want to show all those people, with their inexpensive housing what trees look like…

I think you get my drift.


Eric Johnson signed his Stamp!

Edmonton-born actor – director -writer, Eric Johnson was by Valhalla on Queen West to sign his Maple Leaf Forever stamp for us folks at CanadianCultureThing!

Eric Johnson MapleLeafForever stamp on the back of CCT0104

A big favourite around here, Eric played Whitney Fordman, Lana’s Lang’s jock-boyfriend on Smallville. Filmed in Vancouver, Smallville told the story of the early years of Canadian-Kryptonian hero Superman. Along with Eric Johnson, Smallville was packed with Canadian talent like Erica Durance, Kristin Kreuk and Aaron Ashmore.

After a season as Flash Gordon, Eric took the role of Detective Luke Callaghan on the awesome Toronto-set cop-show Rookie Blue. Rookie Blue tells the story of a group of Rookies on the Toronto police force, learning the ropes from their training officers and working the beat (and getting shot…and kidnapped…and BETRAYED!). Eric Johnson plays Luke Callaghan, the dapper Detective and main-squeeze of Star-Rookie Andy McNally, played by Missy Peregrym until he does a no-no and she finds herself a new man. Only time will tell what drama the future holds for the now brooding James Dean-esque Eric “Luke Callaghan” Johnson on his return in season 3.


Dear Thingy, I need your raccoon wisdom…

Dear Thingy,

I don’t know if you can help me, but I bought several of your postcards (I think I purchased them at Toronto’s First Post Office), and I am using them to send to people’s names I get through Postcrossing.com (a hobby of mine).

Anyway, one of your cards is a vintage-looking, faded colour one reading “TORONTO” in large letters across the middle. Inside each letter is an image of a famous Toronto landmark. I think I have all of them figured out but one. I think, in order, they are: Old City Hall, Queen’s Park, Fairmont Royal York Hotel, the Princes’ Gates, [unknown], Canada Life Assurance Co., and University of Toronto’s Hart House Continue reading


The Heady Days of the Laurier Era.

In the early 20th century Sir Wilfred Laurier, one of our longest serving Prime Ministers, famously announced: “The twentieth century shall be the century of Canada. . . . For the next hundred years, Canada shall be the star towards which all men who love progress and freedom shall come.” Whether you feel that Laurier was on the mark or not, at the time of this renowned speech in 1904, Canadians were very optimistic about the future. Continue reading


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