Looney? See “Lunatic”

If you look up the Looney on Wikipedia, here’s the first sentence:

“This article is about the coin. For the Canadian dollar as a currency, see Canadian dollar. For a mentally ill person, see lunatic.

The Big Loonie in Echo Bay, Ontario.
The Big Loonie in Echo Bay, Ontario.

Here’s a bit of trivia you might not have known, or may have forgotten. The original design for the loonie was to be a sketching of a voyageur on the dies ([dahy] noun, plural dies; an engraved stamp for impressing a design upon some softer material, as in coining money.) that were created in Ottawa, and were sent to Winnipeg’s Royal Canadian Mint to be manufactured. To save a whopping $43.50, they were  instead shipped via a local courier. The Mint disagreed with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s later investigation’s contention that the dies were simply lost in transit, believing instead that they were stolen. The dies were never recovered.

Fearing the possibility of counterfeiting after the loss, the government approved a new design for the reverse, replacing the voyageur with a Robert-Ralph Carmichael design of a common loon floating in water. The coin was immediately nicknamed the “loonie” across English Canada, and became known as a “huard”, French for “loon”, in Quebec. The loonie entered circulation on June 30, 1987, as 40 million coins were introduced into major cities across the country, though an error by the banks resulted in some Calgary residents receiving the coins one week earlier.

Another story about the loonie, is how it became known as the “lucky loonie.”  For the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics, Dan Craig was invited as a National Hockey League’s ice making consultant, He invited a couple of members from the ice crew in his hometown of Edmonton to assist. One of them, Trent Evans, secretly placed a loonie under the ice.  Both men and women Canadian teams went on to win gold medals. Several members of the women’s team kissed the spot where the coin was buried following 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 loonie” at a post-game press conference.  You can view the coin at the Hockey Hall of Fame, and Canadians have subsequently hidden loonies at several international competitions. Loonies were buried in the foundations of facilities built for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

12 comments

    • I’ll tell you, it’s a toss-up for me. In our current system, $5 being the lowest paper denominator, it’s easy to feel richer even with a small amount. However, even with pennies now out of circulation, our wallets are heavier then it was years ago. And it’s weird right now, ’cause it’s new, to feel plastic instead of paper. Like I said, weird! 🙂

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  1. Ah hellooo… Wikie, aren’t you kind of lunatic to define Canadian dollar as canadian dollar? Yup, I heard about the winning loonie buried on the ice. That’s a great piece of history. As for the original getting lost, that’s news to me. BTW, panhandlers prefer to have toonies now not loonies. Now that’s lunatic!

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