When the 2-dollar coin was first introduced in 1996, it featured a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II created by Canadian artist Dora de Pedery-Hunt. This iconic image graced all Canadian circulation coins from 1990 to 2003. On the reverse side, renowned wildlife artist Brent Townsend captured the spirit of the North with his Polar Bear design.
Commemorating the Founding of Nunavut
In 1999, Nunavut First Nations artist Germaine Arnaktauyok designed a special coin to honor the founding of Nunavut, Canada’s newest territory. This unique design appeared on all 2-dollar coins minted in 1999 for general circulation. However, the Polar Bear design was only featured in a limited number of coin sets created for collectors.
A Symbolic Path of Knowledge
For the new millennium in 2000, artist Tony Bianco created a compelling design that symbolized the transfer of knowledge from one generation to the next. Depicting a female polar bear and her two cubs, this coin’s outer rim bore the inscription “Knowledge – Le Savoir.” This design stood out as the sole “tails” representation on the 2-dollar coin in 2000.
Celebrating the 10th Anniversary
The 10th anniversary of the 2-dollar coin in 2006 was marked by the release of two versions. The first version paid homage to the traditional Polar Bear design by Tony Bianco, while the second variant showcased an updated pose of the bear, admiring the captivating lines of the Aurora Borealis. Notably, the position of the double date 1996-2006 differed on each coin: beneath the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II for the traditional bear design and above the effigy for the updated bear.
Introducing the Mint Mark
In 2006, the Royal Canadian Mint introduced the Mint Mark on the obverse side of all Canadian circulation coins. Representing the Mint, Canada, and Royal and Crown Corporation, the Mint Mark displayed a stylized maple leaf emerging from the letter M within a circle. Since then, with the exception of the 2008 coin commemorating the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City, the Mint Mark has consistently appeared beneath the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II.
Commemorating Quebec City’s 400th Anniversary
In 2008, Quebec artist Geneviève Bertrand won a design competition to create a new reverse for the 2-dollar circulation coin, celebrating the 400th anniversary of Quebec City. The commemorative coin featured the date 1608 on the left side of the outer ring and 2008 on the right. This special coin was limited to six million in circulation, alongside over seventeen million 2008 Toonies with the traditional Polar Bear design. As a result, the Mint Mark was relocated to the core of the coin, to the immediate left of the Queen’s effigy.
The 2-dollar coin has undergone various transformations over the years, reflecting Canada’s rich history and cultural milestones. From the stunning Polar Bear design to commemorative coins honoring significant events, the 2-dollar coin continues to captivate collectors and Canadians alike.