|Years of minting||1996–present|
|Design||Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada|
|Design||Polar bear in early summer on an ice floe|
|Design||Polar bear in early summer on an ice floe|
The toonie (also spelled twonie or twoonie), formally the Canadian two-dollar coin (French: pièce de 2 dollars canadiens, nicknamed deux piastres or deux piastres rond), was introduced on February 19, 1996, by Minister of Public Works Diane Marleau. As of 2023,[update] it possesses the highest monetary value of any circulating Canadian coin. The toonie is a bi-metallic coin which on the reverse side bears an image of a polar bear by artist Brent Townsend. The obverse, like all other current Canadian circulation coins, has a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. It has the words ELIZABETH II / D.G. REGINA in a typeface different from any other Canadian coin.
The coin is manufactured using a patented distinctive bi-metallic coin-locking mechanism. The coins are estimated to last 20 years. The discontinued two-dollar bill was less expensive to manufacture but lasted only one year on average.
Coins minted prior to 2012 consist of an aluminum bronze inner core with a pure nickel outer ring; but in March–May 2012, the composition of the inner core switched to aluminum bronze coated with multi-ply plated brass, and the outer ring switched to steel coated with multi-ply plated nickel. The weight dropped from 7.30 to 6.92 g, and the thickness changed from 1.8 to 1.75 mm. The Mint said that multi-ply plated steel technology, already used in Canada's smaller coinage, produces an electromagnetic signature that is harder to counterfeit than that of regular alloy coins; also, using steel provides cost savings and avoids fluctuations in the price or supply of nickel.
"Toonie" is a portmanteau word combining the number "two" with the name of the loonie, Canada's one-dollar coin. It is occasionally spelled "twonie" or "twoonie", but Canadian newspapers and the Royal Canadian Mint use the "toonie" spelling.
Jack Iyerak Anawak, member of Parliament from Nunatsiaq (the electoral district representing what is now the territory of Nunavut), suggested the name "Nanuq" [nanook, polar bear] in honour of the Inuit and their northern culture; however, this proposal went largely unnoticed beside the popular "toonie".
The name "toonie" became so widely accepted that in 2006, the RCM secured the rights to it. A competition to name the bear resulted in the name "Churchill", a reference both to Winston Churchill and to the common polar bear sightings in Churchill, Manitoba.
Finance Minister Paul Martin announced the replacement of the $2 banknote with a coin in the 1995 Canadian federal budget speech. The RCM spent Can$17,400 to canvass 2,000 Canadian households regarding which of the 10 theme options they preferred.
Under the direction of Hieu C. Truong, the RCM engineering division designed the two-dollar coin to be made from two different metals. The metals for the bimetallic coin would be lighter and thinner than those produced anywhere in the world. To join the two parts, the engineering division selected a bimechanical locking mechanism. By the end of 1996, the Winnipeg facility had struck 375 million of these coins. The coin was officially launched at Ben's Deli in Montreal on February 19, 1996.
Unlike the loonie before it, the toonie and the $2 bill were not produced concurrently with each other, as the $2 bill was withdrawn from circulation on February 16, 1996, three days prior to the toonie's introduction.
|1999||The founding of Nunavut||G. Arnaktavyok||25,130,000||Commemorating the founding of Nunavut, featuring an Inuit drummer.|
|2000||Knowledge/Le Savoir||Tony Bianco||29,880,000||Millennium edition, the coin value "2 DOLLARS" appears on the obverse instead of on the reverse. It also features three polar bears. The issue date of the 2000 coin is on the reverse instead of the obverse side.|
|2006||Churchill, 10th anniversary of $2 coin||Tony Bianco||5,005,000||Featuring an updated pose of the bear looking up at the dramatic lines of the aurora borealis. The first circulation coin to be introduced with the new mintmark.
The issue date reads 1996–2006.
|2008||Québec, 400th anniversary of founding of Quebec City, the first French settlement in North America||The coin was designed by jeweller Genevieve Bertrand, a Quebec City native. The engraving was done by RCM engraver William Woodruff.||6,010,000||The design of the coin is dominated by a large fleur-de-lis. Other elements include a ship and lines representing the St. Lawrence River.|
|2011||Boreal Forest, honouring Canada's boreal forest dedicated to the centennial of Parks Canada.||Nolin BBDO Montreal||5,000,000||Celebrates Canada's boreal forest that covers over half of Canada's landmass. Features three stylized trees, a bird and a man.|
|2012||War of 1812: HMS Shannon||Bonnie Ross||5,000,000||Part of a series of commemorative issues on the War of 1812. Features a modified reverse with HMS Shannon in the centre core, as well as artwork with "The War of 1812, HMS Shannon" in the outer ring.|
|2014||Wait for Me Daddy||Claude Dettloff||5,000,000||Inspired by the iconic photograph Wait for Me, Daddy, which was taken on October 1, 1940, in New Westminster, British Columbia, by photographer Claude Dettloff.|
|2015||200th anniversary of the birth of John A. Macdonald||Glen Green||5,000,000||The design features a portrait of John A. Macdonald superimposed on the map of Canada in the centre; in the outer ring are the dates "1815" and "2015". 2,150,000 of these coins were produced in 2014 (though still dated 2015), with the remaining 2,850,000 being produced in 2015.|
|2015||100th anniversary of the poem "In Flanders Fields"||Glen Loates||5,000,000||Part of a collection featuring a coloured and uncoloured quarter duo, the reverse depicts John McCrae sitting in a field of poppies as he composes the poem.|
|2016||75th anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic||Yves Bérubé||5,000,000||Features a sailor aboard a Canadian warship who presses his eye to the viewfinder of his anti-aircraft gun, scanning the skies for threats. Two other Canadian vessels in the distance while a Bristol Beaufighter flies overhead.|
|2017||Canada 150||Timothy Hsia||10,000,000 (including coloured and regular issues)||Commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada. The design is titled Dance of the Spirits and shows a pair of paddlers dwarfed by a night sky alive with the ever-shifting movement of the aurora borealis. The aurora portion glows in the dark. The theme of the coin is "Our Wonders".|
|2017||100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge||Tony Bianco||5,130,000||Designed by Canadian artist Tony Bianco, the coin design features the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in Vimy, France, flanked by a First World War soldier on the left and a veteran soldier on the right.|
|2018||100th anniversary of the Armistice of 11 November 1918||Laurie McGaw||
||Designed by Canadian artist Laurie McGaw, the coin design features two symbols of remembrance: a soldier's helmet represents the end of the First World War and serves as a reminder of the many lives lost during history's first mechanized war. Below the helmet lies a large poppy, the official bloom of remembrance, whose bright scarlet colour is re-created on the selectively coloured coins.|
|2019||75th anniversary of the Battle of Normandy||Alan Daniel||
||Designed by Canadian artist Alan Daniel, the coin features Canadian soldiers en route to Juno Beach.|
|2020||100th anniversary of the birth of artist Bill Reid||Bill Reid||
||Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Haida artist Bill Reid, the design features a rendering of the Xhuwaji, the Haida grizzly bear, along with his name and the year of issue placed between two micro-engraved maple leaves.|
|2020||75th anniversary of the end of the World War II||Thomas Shingles||
||Commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, the design is based on the Victory nickel by Thomas Shingles, featuring a large "V" for Victory overlaid with a torch topped by orange and yellow flames. The Canadian victory emblem is flanked by maple leaves, while the double dates "1945" and "2020" appear at both left and right, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. The words "Victory" (English) and "Victoire" (French) appear on the outer ring, with an inscription in International Morse code, that when translated reads "We win when we work willingly" (English) and "La bonne volonté est gage de victoire" (French). The words "Remember" (English) and "Souvenir" (French) are added to the bottom part of the outer ring.|
|2021||100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin||Jesse Koreck||
||Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin, the design features a monomer, the building block of the insulin molecule, along with scientific instruments used in the early formulation of insulin, including a vial, mortar and pestle, and Erlenmeyer flask overlaid on a maple leaf, with red blood cells, glucose and insulin molecules, the words "INSULIN" and "INSULINE" appearing on the coin's outer ring and the dates "1921" and "2021" on the upper part of the coin's outer ring.|
|2022||50th anniversary of the Summit Series||Joel Kimmel||
||Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Summit Series, the design features two hockey players representing Team Canada, with the team's stylized maple leaf emblem, with "THE SERIES" in English and French, and the words "50 YEARS" and "ANS" appearing on the coin.|
|2022||Honouring Queen Elizabeth II||Brent Townsend||3,675,000||Marking the end of Queen Elizabeth II's reign. With the same design as a regular toonie, except that the outer ring is black, like a mourning band, instead of its usual silver. The colouring is achieved by using black nickel.|
|2023||National Indigenous Peoples Day||Megan Currie, Myrna Pokiak (Agnaviak) and Jennine Krauchi||
||Celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21, the design features three motifs representing Inuit, Métis and First Nations culture. Features the transitional effigy of the Queen, with the dates of her reign, and date of issue on the obverse.|
|2023||100th anniversary of the birth of Jean Paul Riopelle||Jean Paul Riopelle||
||Commemorating the 100th anniversary of his birth, the coin features a recreation of Riopelle's L'Hommage à Rosa Luxemburg.|
Specimen set editions
From 2010 to 2015, the Royal Canadian Mint issued a two-dollar coin that depicts a different and unique image of a young animal on the coin's reverse. These special toonies have limited mintages and are available only in the six-coin specimen sets.
|Year||Theme||Artist||Mintage||Full-set issue price|
|2010||Young lynx||Christie Paquet||15,000||$49.95|
|2011||Elk calf||Christie Paquet||15,000||$49.95|
|2012||Wolf cubs||Emily Damstra||15,000||$49.95|
|2013||Black bear cubs||Glen Loates||17,500||$49.95|
|2014||Baby rabbits||Pierre Leduc||17,500||$49.95|
|2015||Baby raccoons||Clinton Jammer||15,000||$49.95|
|2006||10th anniversary toonie||5,000||$15.95|
|2006||New Mint Mark||5,000||$29.95|
Separation of metals
A failure in the bimetallic locking mechanism in the first batch of toonies caused some coins to separate if struck hard or frozen. Despite media reports of defective toonies, the RCM responded that the odds of a toonie falling apart were about one in 60 million. Deliberately attempting to separate a toonie is considered to be "defacing coin currency", a summary offence under section 456 of the Canadian Criminal Code.
- Newfoundland 2-dollar coin (antedating Canada's coin)
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