Canada, 1943. With the disastrous Dieppe Raid still fresh in their minds, Canadians began the year with tragic news from the Battle of the Atlantic and ended it with successes in Sicily. The end of the war was still two years away. But 1943 brought a hopeful shift that was fuelled in part by Canada’s effort on the home front, where our sacrifices and resolve were represented by a coded message on a new 5-cent coin: We Win When We Work Willingly.

Enhanced with special finishes, this bronze coin re-creates a historic design that is a favourite of collectors and historians. The reverse is a three-part tribute: to Canada’s nickel-less 1943 Victory nickel; to its creator, Thomas Shingles; and to the Canadians on the home front, where civilian contributions were crucial to the war effort and, ultimately, the Allied victory.

Canada’s five-cent Tombac coin
On the home front, select metals were in short supply for “non-essential” use since they were key to the Allied war effort. This was especially true for nickel, a critical material in the production of weaponry and equipment such as armour plating. After introducing a 12-sided tombac (a bronze alloy) “nickel” in 1942, the Royal Canadian Mint also began work on a new five-cent design to promote Canada’s war effort. Sir Winston Churchill’s famous “V for Victory” sign inspired the final design, which included a coded patriotic message in place of denticles. But the master matrix had the added distinction of being the first one made entirely in Canada: it was hand-cut by the legendary Thomas Shingles, who became Chief Engraver of the Royal Canadian Mint that same year.