Voyageur dollar

Voyageur dollar

The Voyageur Dollar was a coin of Canada struck for circulation in silver from 1935 to 1966, and as a commemorative in 2003. A nickel version was struck from 1968-1987. In 1987, the coin was replaced by the loonie. The coin remains legal tender.


In 1911, after lengthy debate, the first Canadian silver dollar was struck. Two remain, one in a museum, the other in private hands and recently auctioned for $1.4 million.

In 1935, a commemorative silver dollar was struck for the King George V's Silver Jubilee. It showed the King on the obverse and a canoe containing a voyageur, or unlicensed fur trader (and a native man), on the reverse. The canoe also contains two bundles of furs--on one, the initials HB, for Hudson's Bay Company may be seen. The reverse was designed by Emanuel Hahn.

truck in silver

The issue was generally considered a success, and beginning in 1936, the silver dollar (in .800 fine silver) was struck on a more or less annual basis as a regular issue, with the same reverse design as in 1935. Although commemorative dollars were struck for circulation for the visit of King George VI in 1939, no regular issue dollars were struck that year, or, as it turned out, until the end of World War II in 1945. Thereafter, Voyageur Dollars were struck each year through 1966, except in years when a commemorative dollar was struck for circulation.

Nickel version

In 1968, the year following the special Canadian centennial series, which included a commemorative dollar, the Voyageur Dollar series resumed--but now struck in pure nickel with a diameter reduced from 38mm to 32mm, as Canada's coinage transitioned from silver to nickel. In 1970, 1971, and 1973, the series was interrupted for circulating commemorative nickel dollars. Circulating commemorative nickel dollars were struck again in 1982 and 1984, but the Voyageur dollar was also produced. It was struck last for circulation in 1986, though for collectors in 1987.

Change of design

The nickel dollar never circulated well. However, a need was seen by the mint for a circulating dollar coin. To encourage circulation, the size was to be reduced, the color was to be changed, and the one dollar note eliminated from circulation.

The Voyageur design was to be used. However, a set of dies depicting the design was lost in transit. [] To eliminate the risk of counterfeiting, an alternate design, featuring a loon, was used. This became known as the loonie.

Commemorative edition

In 2003, in special proof sets honoring the fiftieth anniversary of the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the Voyageur design was struck again in a limited edition of 30,000.

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