The Royal Canadian Mint celebrated Canada’s spirit of innovation with a commemorative Alexander Graham Bell circulation coin: here’s what you should know.
In 2022, the Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) celebrated Canada’s tremendous spirit of innovation with a commemorative Alexander Graham Bell circulation coin. The release comes just in time to honor Bell’s 175th birthday.
Though Alexander Graham Bell is best known as the inventor of the telephone and his pioneering work in communication technology, you won’t find a telephone on this coin. Bell was also a humanitarian, teacher, and inventor of dozens of other groundbreaking devices.
Marie Lemay, President and CEO of RCM, explains that in releasing the commemorative coin, the Mint is “…celebrating the spirit of Canadian know-how and innovation behind wondrous home-grown creation such as Canada’s first-ever powered aircraft and a hydrofoil that was the world’s fastest marine craft of its time.”
What’s On the New Alexander Graham Bell Circulation Coin?
Canadian artist Christopher Gorey designed the coin to include Bell’s image along with two of his most groundbreaking inventions: the hydrofoil and the Silver Dart, Canada’s first powered aircraft. The design features an imprint of Bell’s signature, as well as the inscription “175 YEARS/ANS,” to recognize the anniversary of his birth.
Two million coins feature a richly illustrated color enhancement, with blue waves representing Nova Scotia’s Bras d’Or Lake, where the HD-4 and the Silver Dart made history. An additional mintage of one million coins will circulate without color.
The Silver Dart: Canada’s First Powered Aircraft
The Silver Dart is one of the two inventions pictured on the new AGB coin. Invented in 1909 by the Aerial Experiment Association under the guidance of Alexander Graham Bell, the Silver Dart made history as Canada’s first controlled powered aircraft to take flight.
The AEA team constructed the pioneer-era aircraft after experiments at Baddeck and Hammondsport using materials including steel tubing, bamboo, friction tape, wire, and wood. In addition to winning a Scientific American trophy for the first one-mile flight over North America, the 824 Silver Dart Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets bears the namesake of Bell’s aircraft.
The Hydrofoil: 1919’s Fastest Water Vessel
The other device pictured on the coin is Bell’s genius hydrofoil invention. Clocking in at over 70 miles per hour (114 km/h), the hydrofoil outperformed even the great steamships of the time, which could barely manage 37 miles per hour (60 km/h). The craft was the combined brainchild of Bell, Mabel, and engineer Frederick W. Baldwin.
In conventional steamships, wherein increasing speed increases resistance to the water, the hydrofoil sustains momentum with hydrofoil plates that function in the water as airplane wings do in the air. As speed increases, the submerged hydrofoils raise the hull out of the water to reduce the friction between the water’s surface and the boat’s hull. Resistance to forward motion remains constant at increased speed.
Where Can You Find the Newly Minted Alexander Graham Bell Coin?
Canadians can order collectible coins directly from the RCM website or stay on the lookout for them in their change as banks and businesses begin organically distributing them into the local currency.
You can also explore more about the newly minted AGB coin and the legacy it honors by exploring the RCM’s Alexander Graham Bell virtual museum exhibition.
From Immigrant to Innovator: A True Canadian Pioneer
Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, encourages Canadians to take pride in their shared Canadian nationality with Alexander Graham Bell: “Canadians can take great pride in their connection to one of history’s greatest inventors.”
Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1847, Bell immigrated to Canada with his parents in 1870 at age 23, where they settled in Brantford, Ontario. Shortly thereafter, Bell moved to the United States of America to teach at several schools for the deaf and hard of hearing, including the Boston School for the Deaf and the Clarke School for the Deaf in Massachusetts.
In 1877, Bell married a strong, self-assured, intellectual young woman named Mabel Hubbard, who proved to be instrumental in funding and supporting Bell’s endeavors throughout the rest of his career. The couple eventually returned to Canada, where he spent the final thirty years of his life living and researching at Beinn Bhreagh in Baddeck, Nova Scotia.
Throughout their lives together, “Alec” and Mabel trailblazed in fields ranging from aviation and botany to the science of sound, ensuring Canada stayed competitive as an international force in ingenuity.
What About the Next Generation of Innovators?
The Alexander & Mabel Bell Legacy Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded to preserve and protect the legacy of Alexander and Mabel Bell—and we’re asking for your help in driving our mission forward.
Our foundation advances the Bells’ legacy through increased public awareness of their humanitarian contributions and life-altering inventions. We believe that it is vital for people to learn about the Bells’ impact on society so they can continue to inspire future generations.
By donating today, you can help inspire the next generation of change-makers and problem-solvers. Will you join us?