Canadian Two Dollar Coin

The Toonie (Twoonie) is Canada's first bi-metal coin. Minted on February 19, 1996 this 2 dollar piece was a very unique creation because it was the first Canadian coin to have two separate and distinct metal rings joined together to create a single coin. This bi-metal coin features an outer silver ring and an inner gold coloured ring.

On the outer ring of one side of this new coin was imprinted CANADA 2 DOLLARS while on the other side of the outer ring was printed ELIZABETH ll D.G.REGINA. Also featured on this same side of the new two dollar was the year of the coins minting and a small imprint of a maple leaf. The maple leaf being one of Canada's most recognized national symbols.

The wide outer ring of the new two dollar Canadian coin was comprised of 99 percent nickel while the inner ring was composed of a three metal blend of 92 percent copper, 6 percent aluminum, and 2 percent nickel. 
The first lots of these to tumble off the assembly line had a very unique defect in their composition. The bi-metallic coin locking mechanism designed to hold the two rings in place was not yet perfected and the smaller inner ring of the coin easily slipped out of the larger outer ring.

These now very collectible defective versions of the first 2 dollar coins were quickly recalled to the mint but a few are most likely securely tucked away by collectors. There are probably quite a few of these defective first renditions of the toonie sitting in coin collections around the world.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll appears on one side of the inner circle of this first two dollar coin while the image of a polar bear is featured on the other side of the inner circle. This image of the polar bear was designed by the famous Canadian wildlife artist Brent Townsend and it appears on the twoonie from 1996 to 1998 and then again in the year 2001. The two years in between host special commemorative images.

In 1999 a special image designed by Germaine Amatauyok is featured to honour the establishment of Nunavut as a new territory within Canada. In 2000 an image of a mother polar bear and her cubs designed by Tony Bianco is featured on the Canadian 2 dollar coin. The inscription on the outer edge of this Canadian toonie reads KNOWLEDGE _ LE SAVOIR. In 2003 it was the face of the monarchy on the coin that would change. A new image of Queen Elizabeth was designed by Susanna Blunt and feature on Canadian coins in 2003 onward. 

The 10th anniversary of Canada's 2 dollar coin was celebrated in 2006 with two coins being minted in this year. One featured the traditional polar bear image created by Tony Bianco while the second featured a new image of the bear with one foot raised in mid step as it stops to look up at the Aurora Borealis.
In 2008 there would again be two images that are featured on the toonie. A Fleur de lis designed by Genevieve Bertrand celebrating the founding of Quebec City is on one coin while the traditional polar bear is on the other minting. 

A trend of nicknaming Canada's dollar coins began with the introduction of the one dollar coin which featured on its face the image of a Loonie. It was quickly nickname the Loonie and despite government attempts to rebrand it, the name stuck. When the new 2 dollar coin was released into circulation the nickname Twoonie or Toonie was given to it. In 2012 the metal content of the toonie changed and along with this alteration the weight of the coin combined with a slight difference in thickness also occurred. This new Canadian Coin was now comprised of an outer ring of nickel plated steel and an inner circular coin of brass plated aluminum bronze.

Related Articles by Lorelei Cohen