The ‘Toonie’ celebrates its 25th Birthday today

1996: In 1996, on February 19th, Canada introduced the new $2 coin, nicknamed the “toonie.” This unique bi-metal coin joined the ‘Loonie. The coin was designed by wildlife and landscape artist Brent Townsend, created the image of an adult polar bear in early summer on an ice floe.

Since the first minting, the ‘toonie’ has had several different design changes:


1999 – The Founding of Nunavut – featured Nunavut First Nations artist Germaine Arnaktauyok who had created a special design to commemorate the founding of Nunavut, Canada’s newest territory.

2000 – Path of Knowledge – Artist Tony Bianco illustrated a female polar bear and her two cubs to represent the transfer of knowledge from one generation to the next. The inscription on the coin’s outer rim reads “Knowledge – Le Savoir.”

2003 – The end of an era, the birth of a new effigy. This was the last year of the Dora de Pedery-Hunt design of Her Majesty’s effigy on the toonie. In honour of the Queen’s 50th Coronation Anniversary an updated effigy was designed by Susanna Blunt.

2006 – 10th Anniversary of the Toonie – Two toonies were in circulation this year, the first honouring the traditional Polar Bear design of artist Tony Bianco and the second featuring his updated pose of the bear looking up at the dramatic lines of an Aurora Borealis.

2008 – 400th Anniversary of the founding of Quebec City. Designed by Geneviève Bertrand, the toonie featured a stylized fleur de lys with a sailing vessel approaching the shore.

The Royal Canadian Mint states “The ‘Toonie’ has a life span approximately 20 times longer than paper currency and is manufactured using a distinctive bi-metallic coin locking mechanism patented by the Royal Canadian Mint.”