The Royal Canadian Mint (RCM) is a bullion industry titan in the world of gold and silver, fittingly creating some of the most recognizable investment-grade bullion products today.
Of course, they also mint all Canadian coinage (and many other countries too!), and their intertwined history with the British Monarchy has led to billions and billions of coins bearing Queen Elizabeth's striking profile.
Yeah, they're kind of a big deal.
Let's peel back the layers of the Royal Canadian Mint's rich history and discuss its impact on precious metal investing.
- The Ottawa branch of The Royal Canadian Mint was established in 1908, 40 years after the formation of the Canadian Confederation.
- The Royal Canadian Mint is a Crown corporation that reports to the Canadian Ministry of Finance and is responsible for minting and distributing Canada's circulating coinage.
- The Mint is headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario, and has a second minting facility in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
- The RCM's retail products include collector coins, gold and silver bullion coins, medals, medallions, and tokens.
- Over its history, the Royal Canadian Mint has produced circulating coinage for dozens of other countries, and its bullion program produces some of the most recognizable retail bullion investments today.
Beginnings of the Royal Canadian Mint
Even though we share a major border, Canada and America took completely different routes to reach their respective place today. You don't have to be a history buff to know that the American colonies broke free from English rule, and the British colony of Canadian Provinces remained loyal to the Crown.
The English Crown still holds significant influence over Canada, but also, in some major respects, the nation has gone its own way.
As a part of the British Commonwealth from the beginning, the young Canadian nation relinquished the responsibility of coinage production to The Royal Mint of Great Britain.
These Canadian Provinces remained a British colony until 1867 when a Canadian Confederation was formed. Still, the circulating coinage remained under their domain, and this arrangement worked well until the early 20th century when a more local solution was needed.
In 1908 the Crown migrated coin production when The Royal Mint opened a branch in Ottawa. The Ottawa Mint would later become the official RCM headquarters and is still in operation today.
Seeking further independence from The Royal Mint, the Ottawa Mint negotiated a split in 1931, and the Royal Canadian Mint was officially born. Initially organized as a branch of the Department of Finance, the Royal Canadian Mint was later converted into a Crown Corporation in 1969. This move allowed even further freedom for the RCM to forge its path and become the powerhouse they are today.
Ottawa handled all coin production for over 50 years, but the combined needs of the Canadian people would eventually outgrow the antiquated facility. The RCM further increased minting capacity in 1976 by opening a second operation in Winnipeg. This location mints all Canadian circulating coinage, and has produced coins for over 70 foreign nations including Singapore, Iceland, and New Zealand just to name a few.
The RCM was instrumental in the rebirth of modern bullion investment, starting in 1979 with the introduction of the Gold Maple Leaf. They have since become one of the premier bullion producers and circulating coinage worldwide.
Demonetization of Canadian Silver Coins
Similar to the pre-65 US circulating coinage ("Junk Silver"), Canadian small denomination coinage was once partially comprised of silver bullion. As an outpost of The Royal Mint, it makes sense that early Canadian silver coins were minted from sterling silver, or 92.5% silver by composition.
Following the First World War, rising silver costs compelled the Ottawa Mint to shift the coinage towards an 80% silver alloy beginning in 1920. The 80% silver composition continued unabated until the rising silver prices in the 1960s caused the RCM to abandon the precious metal in 1968 altogether.
Canadian silver coins are still considered legal tender, but today are bought and sold for their silver content and trade hands for many multiples of their face value.
The Royal Canadian Mint Today
Today the Royal Canadian Mint is a respected leader in numismatic collectibles and bullion investments. New releases are always highly anticipated and well received by numismatists and hard asset enthusiasts alike.
Even though over 1,000 miles separate the cities of Ottawa and Winnipeg, the Royal Canadian Mint's two production facilities operate in a symbiotic fashion to manage global demand for their coinage and retail products.
The Ottawa mint handles the annual production of gold and silver bullion, medals, medallions, and tokens. The Gold and Silver Maple Leaf coins are their main offerings, but new collectible coins hit the shelves yearly.
The Winnipeg facility is solely in charge of producing all Canadian circulating coinage and the circulating coinage for other countries worldwide.
Never one to rest on their laurels, the RCM has continued to push development in an industry considered low-tech by many outsiders.
Bullion DNA technology uses an advanced laser to micro-engrave each modern Maple Leaf with a unique privy mark. Using a proprietary machine, any Gold or Silver Maple Leaf is instantly verifiable in a central database.
Another bullion breakthrough came from MINTSHIELD technology in 2018, which eliminated (or at least significantly reduced) the long-standing issue of silver tarnish, or "milk spotting," on RCM silver bullion investments.
The Future of the Royal Canadian Mint
Revenue from bullion sales crested over $3.2 billion in 2021, a 42% increase year over year. Gold and silver bullion production was up 50% and 28% in 2021, respectively.
The bullion programs are having banner years, and we don't estimate a decline in that upward trendline anytime soon.
In 2011 the Royal Canadian Mint launched its digital metals program, referred to as Exchange Traded Receipts (ETRs). These ETRs are offered in gold and silver products and trade hands like stock securities on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). Per the RCM, each "share" of gold or silver stock represents a fraction of physical holdings in their vaults. This creates a level of convenience that allows a broader range of investors to gain exposure to gold and silver prices.
Gold and silver purists won't be too impressed by the format, but the option does provide an outlet for Canadian investors. Please note this product isn't available in the US.
The Royal Canadian Mint has a vibrant history and earned its place as a trusted source for your gold and silver investment needs.
The RCM offers bullion investors and collectors ample options to gain exposure to proven safe-haven assets, and we are proud to carry the essentials from their bullion offering.
For American bullion investors, the RCM is a cost-effective alternative to US Mint bullion investments that comes with an equal level of trust and recognition.
Based on current trends, the RCM has a long and bright future ahead of itself, and we are excited to follow the journey.