Discover the era of Canada’s Coming of Age with this second $50 fine silver coin in the First 100 Years of Confederation series. It is an art deco-styled view of Canada from 1914 and 1945 and features one of the first ships built for the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). This was an era in which a young Canada was navigating uncertain waters made murkier by two wars and a crippling economic depression. Waves of immigration had landed on our shores and swept west, transforming society and enriching our cultural fabric. But the changing tides of history also carried Canada’s finest and our hopes for peace to places like Vimy, and later, Juno Beach — two key turning points that marked Canada’s coming of age, which is represented on this coin. The coin weighs just over five ounces of pure silver, and has a mintage limited to just 1,250. HST/GST exempt.
Designed by Canadian artist Glen Green, the main design features a symbol of a Canada’s new-found standing on the world stage after the First World War. Art deco elements surround the depiction of HMCS Saguenay; built in 1931, the vessel was one of the first warships built for the Royal Canadian Navy before the naval service’s rapid expansion during the Second World War (1939-1945). The obverse combines five of the effigies that have appeared on Canadian coins since 1867 (clockwise, from top): the first effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Mary Gillick, the effigy of King George VI by T. H. Paget, the effigy of King George V by Sir E. B. Mackennal, the effigy of King Edward VII by G. W. De Saulles, and the effigy of Queen Victoria by L. C. Wyon.
Did You Know
The First World War is often cited as Canada’s coming of age. Canada entered the First World War in 1914 with an army of just 3,110 men; its navy, which was only founded in 1910, consisted of two old cruisers and 350 sailors. But by the end of the war, more than 650,000 men and women from Canada and Newfoundland (then a separate colony) had answered the call of duty, but at the cost of 66,000 lives. For a nation of just eight million, this was a significant contribution, and Canada emerged with a new-found standing on the world stage and a growing sense of national identity.
By the end of the Second World War, Canada had become a leading member of the international community and had one of the largest navies in the world. More than a million Canadians and Newfoundlanders served in the war, with 45,000 killed and another 55,000 wounded.
HMCS Saguenay (depicted on this coin) was deployed at the start of the Second World War. This River-class destroyer was built in Hampshire, United Kingdom; the ship was commissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy at Portsmouth (U.K.) on May 22, 1931, and arrived in Halifax on July 3, 1931. The Saguenay was assigned to convoy duties throughout the Battle of the Atlantic; this was the longest battle of the Second World War, and Canada played a major role in this campaign.
Art deco was popular in the inter-war years. The successor to art nouveau, art deco is easily recognized by the art style’s strong geometric character. Its popularity peaked in the 1920s and ‘30s, but it continues to influence the artists and architects of today.