1/2 oz 2021 Early Canadian History: The Fur Trade Proof Gold Coin | Royal Canadian Mint
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The Royal Canadian's Mint FOURTH moment in early Canadian history looks at the fur trade from a Nishiiyuu perspective.
The fourth coin in this series presents a 99.99% pure gold portrait of the fur trade era from the perspective of the Nishiiyuu (Cree). In the fur-rich region of James Bay, the people of Eeyou Istchee (“The People’s Land”) were the skilled hunters, trappers and middlemen who supplied the coveted pelts that were brought to trading posts such as Fort Charles, where they were exchanged for imported goods – metal tools, kettles, cloth and more. Initially, Nishiiyuu and European traders mutually benefited from this exchange of goods, but as time went on, it proved to be an agent of change. The Nishiiyuu way of subsistence living gradually gave way to a reliance on trade, which was increasingly competitive and led to escalating social problems. Seasonal movement was impeded by the necessity of travelling to the posts. And within the hunting groups that formed the basic unit of society, a new kind of leader emerged – one based on trading and communication skills rather than knowledge of the land. The fur trade shaped this country’s history but it also impacted the traditional ways of the Nishiiyuu, who were important partners and contributors to one of Canada’s earliest industries.
Own the latest chapter in the Royal Canadian Mint's journey through early Canadian history!
- FOURTH COIN IN THE SERIES! This coin presents a captivating visual narrative of the Nishiiyuu (Cree) experience in the early days of the fur trade (1700s).
- A HISTORY-THEMED EXCLUSIVE! This coin pays tribute to the rich history of the Nishiiyuu. And with a mintage of just 1,200 worldwide, this limited collector piece is sure to be a spectacular addition to any gold or history-themed collection.
- INCLUDES SERIALIZED CERTIFICATE! The Royal Canadian Mint certifies all of its collector coins.
A VIEW OF THE PAST
This coin invites you to travel back in time, to the 1700s, for a glimpse of life in Eeyou Istchee. It is the story of the fur trade, told from the perspective of Indigenous trading partners who played an important role in the story of Canada.
A COMPLEX COMBINATION OF FINISHES!
Each coin in this series combines finely detailed engraving and a complex blend of multiple finishes that bring depth to a design already imbued with symbolism and meaning. It’s masterful storytelling, and all on a 99.99% pure gold canvas!
DID YOU KNOW?
- The Nishiiyuu were skilled hunters and gatherers, but they were also adept middlemen: some would exchange their furs for European goods, which were later traded off to other groups that supplied them with more furs.
- According to Nishiiyuu beliefs, animals make themselves available to the hunters who show proper humility and respect. Remains cannot be carelessly discarded, and as a sign of respect, skulls were traditionally hung in trees – a practice that has been incorporated into this coin’s design.
DESIGN & ARTIST
On the coin’s reverse, artist Sheila Orr has created a captivating visual narrative of a Nishiiyuu family departing from their camp, their canoe loaded with supplies for the trip and bundles of furs destined for the trading post.
It is springtime in the mid-1700s; the adults are wearing new caribou hide clothing, and their child is dressed in a rabbit fur coat. On land, the fish are drying, the food is cached and beaver skulls are hung from a tree as a traditional show of respect. In the sky, the return of migrating geese heralds a new season: summer, a time for gatherings and celebrations. The obverse features the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt.
"In school, we were asked ‘if you could go back into time, where would you go?’ My response was, ‘Back in the 1700s to meet my ancestors of Eeyou Istchee.’ This coin inspired me to look back to a time when the fur trade brought changes for the People of the Land, when they were faced with the necessity of finding a new balance in life. After centuries of living harmoniously with the land, their skills and resources were turned to procuring furs for the traders who introduced them to foreign commerce, export and world trade. My renderings reflect how Cree culture is intertwined with history and the making of this country we now call Canada. With this coin, I am proud and humbled to represent my ancestors.” SHEILA ORR, ARTIST
“The arrival of the fur traders in the James Bay region in 1668 changed the lives of Crees in Eeyou Istchee forever. From hunting and trapping animals to satisfy their basic needs – clothing, food and shelter coverings – they had to trade their furs in exchange for European goods to meet those needs. Isolation from the rest of the world ended with the incorporation of the Hudson Bay Company in 1670 and the establishments of posts in the territory, which resulted in a partnership that was to last for more than 300 years.” JANIE PACHANO, NISHIIYUU ELDER
ABOUT THE ROYAL CANADIAN MINT
The Royal Canadian Mint is known as one of the most reputable mints in the world. The Ottawa Branch of the Royal Mint opened in 1908 and was renamed The Royal Canadian Mint in 1931 when control was transferred to the Canadian government. The Royal Canadian Mint is renowned for producing some of the highest quality and purity of gold and silver bullion coins and bars in the world. Their high standards for excellence and quality allowed them to be the first refinery to manufacture 9999 fine gold bullion coins in 1982, as well as the first to reach 99999 fine gold purity in 1999.
|Royal Canadian Mint
|Sheila Orr (reverse), Susanna Blunt (obverse)
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