Canada’s legendary tall ships have put to sea once more, this time on an exquisite half-kilo collector’s item. Selectively gold-plated and brimming with engraved details, the compass-like design by Neil Hamelin and Yves Bérubé points to history in every direction — from HMS Discovery in the Pacific to the legendary Bluenose, the “Queen of the North Atlantic fishing fleet.”
The reverse design brings together the four legendary vessels featured in the Royal Canadian Mint’s 2016 Tall Ships Legacy series. Like a compass, the cardinal directions divide the coin’s reverse into four gold-plated quadrants. Each quadrant features a depiction by maritime artists Neil Hamelin and Yves Bérubé.
The northeast quadrant, “AMAZON”, features the Nova Scotia brigantine more famously known as the ghost ship Mary Celeste. The southeast quadrant, “HMS DISCOVERY”, features the ship commanded by Captain George Vancouver during his exploration of Canada’s Pacific coast. The southwest quadrant, “MARCO POLO”, features the New Brunswick-built passenger ship that brought immigrants to Australia in the mid-19th century. The northwest quadrant, “BLUENOSE”, features the Nova Scotia fishing schooner that became an international racing legend.
Selective gold plating is denoted by a “P” mark on the obverse, which features the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt.
Launched in 1861, the Amazon was one of the first vessels built at Spencer’s Island, Nova Scotia. For six years, this brigantine hauled cargo across the Atlantic and in the West Indies. Re-christened the Mary Celeste, the vessel became one of the world’s most famous ghost ships after she was discovered adrift in 1872 without any trace of her crew.
Proudly built in New Brunswick, the three-masted ship was launched in 1851 and refitted the following year for passenger service during the Australian gold rush. She was heralded as “the fastest ship in the world” after completing a round-trip voyage from Great-Britain to Australia in five months and 21 days.
Under the command of Captain George Vancouver (1757-1798), HMS Discovery and her crew made history during a four-year expedition of discovery, diplomacy and exploration in the Pacific. The full-rigged tall ship reached the Pacific coast of modern-day Canada in 1792, and the expedition’s survey of the coastline left a legacy that endures today.
The pride of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, Bluenose is Canada’s most famous Grand Banks fishing schooner and a racing legend. In 1921, the salt banker claimed her first of five victories in the International Fishermen’s Race. The vessel served as the sailing ambassador of Canada during the World’s Fair in 1933 and the Royal Silver Jubilee in 1935. She has been a fixture on our 10-cent circulation coin since 1937.