The loonie’s “fortuitous” Nordic link

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The interesting things you will come across are one of the perks of driving on the roads of Northern Ontario. The Big Loonie at Echo Bay is one of them

One of the highlights of driving on back roads is the ability to see a variety of roadside attractions en route. And along the way, there are many famous, not to say unusual, sites in Northern Ontario. They are very photogenic.

There is the “Big Loonie” in Echo Bay, 30 kilometers east of Sault Ste. on Highway 17B – one of those great and interesting roadside attractions that catches the eye of the lost traveler.

A “fortuitous” story

The gold colored coin was introduced in 1987 as a cost saving measure to replace dollar bills. There was pressure from vending machine operators, transit companies and cities over parking meters to increase the prices of coin operated equipment. It was instantly nicknamed the “loon” (French: loon) after the lonely loon which adorns the reverse of the coin. The nickname spread and Canadians have used it ever since.

Alex Reeves has been contacted, he is Senior Director of Public Affairs at the Royal Canadian Mint. It is the crown corporation responsible for minting and distributing Canada’s circulation coins. An ISO 9001 certified company; the Mint is recognized as one of the largest and most versatile mints in the world. He said the Loonie is known around the world as an innovative pioneer for its cutting-edge composition and safety features.

In June 1987, Canadians welcomed the new 11-sided dollar coin of constant width into their pockets and purses. The introduction of the coin was the most significant change in the Canadian monetary system in half a century. All Canadian coins bear the image of Queen Elizabeth II on the back.

Mr. Reeves said, “The loonie as we know it was never meant to be. When the original stamping of a dollar coin depicting a traveler was lost, the Government of Canada authorized a new design, the loonie, to preserve the integrity of the Canadian currency system.

The Echo Bay connection

In 1992, the town of Echo Bay, just east of Sault Ste. Marie built a loonie monument in honor of animal artist Robert R. Carmichael, a village resident and artist responsible for the design of the 1987 loonie. He knowingly created a symbol that Canadians and others around the world associate with unspoiled wilderness and, by association, a healthy environment. His drawing for the loonie was the first the Mint had accepted after 10 years of continuous submission of proposals. While the loonie was Carmichael’s best-known numismatic work, he designed more than a dozen other coins for mint, including several gold and commemorative coins before his death four years ago . Ninety-five percent of the world’s common loons breed in Canada, and the species occurs regularly in every province and territory.

Cindy Findlay is the Recreation Services Coordinator, Township of Macdonald, Meredith & Aberdeen Additional, where Echo Bay is located.

“We just celebrated the 25th anniversary of our Festival for the monument three years ago. I know for a fact that this gets at least one visitor a day in the summer from the times I worked in flower gardens or cleaning up.

“Her importance to our community is huge,” Cindy said. “It puts us on the map. The four-lane bypass of Highway 17 took a lot of through traffic, which affected some of our businesses in our city, unless they needed a rest area or refueling. of gasoline.

Reeves said more than 205 million coins, most of all years, were produced in 1987. The loonie is the only non-circular coin among the eleven-sided Canadian currency. Twenty years is the lifespan of the dollar coin. A single piece is about as heavy as a sheet of paper or 6.27 grams. The diameter of the part is 26.5 mm. Loons are made of Aureate, a combination of galvanized nickel with bronze. Side by side, all of the stricken Loonies could span Canada’s entire national highway system, 3,700 km. Since 2012, the Mint’s technological improvements have made it one of the safest coins in the world. It has a laser engraved mark and is made of multilayer plated steel.

A legendary piece

A loonie was buried in the center of the ice ahead of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City to bring good luck to Canada’s gold medal winning men’s and women’s hockey teams. A Canadian ice-making assistant placed the coins after realizing that there was no target in the center of the ice for the umpires to aim for when they released the puck for a face-off. a thin yellow dot was painted on the surface of the ice above the coins, although the loonie was barely visible to those who knew how to look for it. Several members of the women’s team embraced where the coin was buried after their victory. After the men won their final, the coin was dug up and given to Wayne Gretzky, the team’s executive director, who revealed the existence of the “Lucky Loon” at a post-press conference. match.

How to find it

Due to the highway bypass, it may be missed. Look for Echo Bay exits. From the “Big Loonie” site, take a stroll along the adjacent Lake George Marsh Boardwalk, a 670 meter (2,200 foot) section of wheelchair accessible trails to explore. This leads to a bird watching platform allowing you to see excellent views of a provincially significant wetland. You might spot a loonie.

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