Canada’s 5 cent coin saw several changes throughout the Second World War, not only in design, but also in composition. Each of the modifications implemented assisted Allied Forces, whether in physical production of additional commodities for the war effort, or a boost in morale for those at home and abroad. Here we will give a little insight into these changes of Canada’s nickel from 1942 to 1945.

Nickel, one of Canada’s natural resources, exhibits unique properties to include a combination of strength, hardness, ductility, resistance to corrosion, and the ability to maintain strength under high heat. As a result, this metal was in great demand for the production of guns, tanks, planes, battleships and weaponry that required nickel-hardened alloys. The demand for nickel placed a great strain on Canada’s resources, and it was determined that nickel would be suspended for the coinage production. It was at this time that experiments began to find an alternate metal—tombac. A combination of 88% copper and 12% zinc, this alloy gave the new coin a bronze appearance, along with other changing design features.

The introduction of tombac was also combined with a 12-sided, or dodecagonal, design. To boost morale and promotion of the war effort, a new reverse design was implemented on the 1943 issues. The central “V”, as known denoted as the Roman numeral for “5”, had become a famous symbol of Britain’s Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. The “V for Victory” was also enhanced by a unique feature along the rim of the reverse. This series of dots and dashes were Morse Code for “We Win When We Work Willingly”, a uniting statement to foster the war effort.

The Victory Nickel design was maintained through the end of World War II in 1945, however, the composition underwent an additional change as demand for copper and zinc forced the end of tombac coinage production. In 1944, plated steel was instituted. The steel was plated with nickel and then a very thin plating of chromium, to aid in the longevity of the coin and slow overall wear.

The evolution of Canada’s 5 cent coin during the Second World War shows the history of a country rich in natural resources, who when duty calls, is there to support its heroes and allies, at home and abroad.


Sudol, Stan. Inco’s Sudbury Nickel Mines were Critical During World War Two. 2008.