The mint in Ottawa, Canada, was established by The Royal Mint in 1908. It officially opened on 2 January 1908. Before this, there had been very little circulation of gold coinage in Canada.
The mint was opened due to the recent discovery of gold in the Yukon Territory and British Colombia. The first gold sovereigns were struck in 1908, although the first coin actually produced at the mint was an Edward VII fifty-cent piece. There were 61 employees at the mint when it first opened.
Only 646 gold sovereigns were minted in 1908. 1913 and 1916 also saw only a few thousand produced in each year. So a sovereign from any of these years is a rare find! In fact, The Royal Mint in Ottawa only made 628,152 sovereigns in the 11 years it struck this type of coin (compared to say, Sydney and Melbourne, where the numbers reached over 140 million in each).
This, along with the fact that many of the coins were melted down after the First World War to help pay for Britain’s debts, means that Ottawan sovereigns are pretty scarce finds.
The sovereigns struck in 1908 had a satin-proof finish. And the coins from this year were largely made for collectors, mint officials, and other VIPs. In 1909, the sovereigns were made with a satin-specimen finish.
Throughout their production, British sovereigns were used as circulation coinage in Canada. They had the same value as their use in Britain, which was one pound (20 shillings). Other coins, such as those made of silver and base metal, were also struck for general Candian coin circulation.
From 1931, the mint ceased to be a branch of The Royal Mint. It was renamed The Royal Canadian Mint and became a Crown Corporation mint in 1969.
The mint in Ottawa continues to produce high-quality coinage today. Bullions, circulation coinage, and commemorative coins are stuck, many with very sophisticated security features.
You might be wondering how you can identify sovereigns from The Royal Mint in Ottawa? The first thing to do is look for the C mint mark. This should be located towards the bottom on the reverse side of the coin. And you’ll find it above the date but below the main design of the coin.
Most of the time, these coins will also be called Canadian Mint Sovereigns (and not something like Ottawan mint sovereigns). Plus, often you’ll see the year followed by the C mark in citations. So an example would be 1914 C George V Sovereign.
We’d like to hear from anyone who’s seen a Canadian sovereign? Please comment below if you have seen one, or if you have any other feedback on our article!