Canada’s Hundred Days

Original drawing to engraved coin. (Coin image courtesy of The Royal Canadian Mint)

“As we walked through Mons, ten Canadian soldiers lay dead. By mid-morning, every one of them was covered with flowers, while hundreds of civilians passed by with tears in their eyes.”

I read this in the journal of R.H. Rabjohn, a Canadian soldier in WW1. He was also an artist and spent some of his time during the war sketching what he saw around him. His description of the scene in Mons helped me with the direction of this coin for The Royal Canadian Mint that commemorates Canada’s Hundred Days.

August 8th to November 11th 1918 is the span of 100 days that saw the Canadian Corps on their journey through to Mons, Belgium, where they arrived when the Armistice was announced and the end of the war had finally come. In those last hundred days the Canadians were tasked with attacking the Germans in a series of secretive assaults without having to stop and regroup, and break through the German defences. When they neared Mons, the end of the war was only one day away and the Canadians were ordered to liberate the city. They attacked from all sides and by 3am the Canadians broke through, sending the Germans running.

My illustration for this coin depicts two soldiers standing on a pile of rubble after the war. It could be Amiens or Mons or Valenciennes or Mont Houy. I wanted it to represent any place where Canadians fought to liberate these towns and cities in the last hundred days. In the foreground is a soldier’s grave, marked with a wooden cross and covered in flowers, placed there by civilians wishing to pay their respects to the soldier who helped to liberate them. It’s a beautiful tribute and unfathomable to me to imagine what it must have been like to be a solider in this war. Such a mixture of emotions – exhaustion, relief, sadness and jubilation – the soldiers must have felt at the end of the war.

I’ve learned so much about Canadians at war while working on coins for the Royal Canadian Mint and have a much greater understanding and appreciation of their sacrifices. I’m really honoured to have been able to participate in this Battlefront Series. One of the first coins I ever worked on for the Mint was actually the very first coin in this series.

While this series of coins may be complete, I’ve been so fascinated with what I’ve learned thus far that I have started my own research into learning more about both WWI and WWII. I would highly recommend the book A Soldier’s Sketchbook, where I found incredible stories and drawings from R.H. Robjohn.

I hope tomorrow on the 100th anniversary of the Armistice you can find a local service to attend to pay your respects to those who served your country.

My original pencil drawings for this coin.

The final minted coin.

Illustration by R.H. Rabjohn from A Soldier’s Sketchbook

Falcon Lake Incident – Royal Canadian Mint

Image courtesy of the Royal Canadian Mint

Well this was a cool experience. I illustrated this coin design for the Royal Canadian Mint for a coin called The Falcon Lake Incident. I had no idea what kind of response it would get, but it turns out people really like UFO sightings and the coins that commemorate them. This coin sold out in one day, with a mintage of 4000. Thankfully I was able to snag one before they were all sold (I saw them on eBay shortly after for quadruple the retail price!). The coin comes with a black light, and when you shine the light on the coin it reveals a beam from the UFO and a glow around the man on the ground.

I got a fair amount of press with this coin and was interviewed on the Alan Neal CBC show All in a Day. I was also on The Morning Show on CKWS in Kingston, with host Bill Welychka. That was an awesome thing to do, live on television for the first time!

Holiday Toy Box – Royal Canadian Mint

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I am really happy to show the newest coin I created for the Royal Canadian Mint. I was tasked with illustrating a Holiday Toy Box. The coolest part of the project was that it was to be a lenticular coin, where two images are printed on the coin and when tilted the image becomes animated. Pretty awesome technology! So I ended up painting two pieces, one with a closed toy box and the other open – showing a brand new scene with new toys, unwrapped presents and Christmas trees lit up outside.

I also wanted to add a bit of an animated element, so the rocking horse rocks and the little toy top spins around. For me, it’s pretty amazing to see my paintings printed on a tiny little coin (35mm). I put a lot of detail in there so you really have to spend some time flipping the image back and forth to see it all, especially at a small size. And of course I put a basketball in the toy box. I know it’s a Canadian coin and people are expecting hockey sticks and skates, but hey, this was my design and my Canada is all about basketball, robots and rocking horses.

If you’re looking for a last minute stocking stuffer, this could be a good one! Check it out over at the Mint’s website.

The coin in its maroon clamshell box (photo by the Royal Canadian Mint)

The coin in its maroon clamshell box (photo by the Royal Canadian Mint)

Italian Campaign WWII – Royal Canadian Mint

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I illustrated this coin for the Royal Canadian Mint, commemorating the Italian Campaign during World War II. This scene depicts a Sherman tank and Canadian soldiers moving through the rubble in the town of Ortona after a battle, watching for snipers. I did a ton of research for this coin about the Italian Campaign (December 1943), reading first hand accounts of the battle, researching historical photos, tanks, uniforms, guns and bombed-out buildings. The engravers did an incredible job capturing all the tiny details of my drawing.

It is a 38mm silver coin and came in a really cool pop-up box that doubles as a diorama. I can’t claim the credit for that design, that belongs to the talented team at the Mint.

For more information or to purchase a coin, visit the Mint’s website.

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The Italian Campaign coin, for the Royal Canadian Mint

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The coin box

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Box opens to reveal a pop-up diorama and a spot for the coin

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From original drawing to final coin