Canada Gets a New Loonie That Commemorates Klondike Gold Rush

The Royal Canadian Mint has issued a circulation one-dollar coin to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the discovery of gold in the Klondike.


The Royal Canadian Mint



Through the new coin, the Royal Canadian Mint wants to remind Canadians that there is another side to the popular narrative of the Klondike Gold Rush – the impact on the Indigenous people who have inhabited the land for millennia.


Marie Lemay, President and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint said through a statement, “As this new coin circulates from coast to coast to coast, we hope that the social and environmental impacts of the Klondike discovery will become as well understood as its role developing the Yukon and transforming the Canadian economy.”


The Royal Canadian Mint’s coloured version of the $1 circulation coin is issued on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the Klondike Gold Rush (CNW Group/Royal Canadian Mint)

The reverse of the one-dollar circulation coin is designed by Vancouver artist Jori van der Linde. It depicts the four people credited with the discovery of gold on Rabbit Creek that started the Klondike Gold Rush in August 1896: Keish (Skookum Jim Mason), K̲áa Goox̱ (Dawson Charlie), Shaaw Tláa (Kate Carmack) and her husband, George Carmack. On a hillside appears an image representing the Moosehide Gathering place, where the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation relocated when it was displaced by the influx of gold rushers. It has become a critical symbol representing the community’s experience. The word “KLONDIKE” and the dates “1896” and “2021” also accompany the design.

The effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, on the coin, was designed by Canadian artist Susanna Blunt in 2003.

Two million coloured versions – Moosehide Gathering place icon in red – and one million uncoloured versions of the coin began circulating yesterday.



Those who are interested can buy a collector keepsake set (mintage – 100,000) featuring both versions of the commemorative circulation coin, packaged with uncirculated versions of the classic 2021 circulation coins (5-cent to $2) for $24.95.

There are also 10,000 limited-edition special wrap rolls of coloured and uncoloured coins containing 25 uncirculated coins each, available for $79.95.

An exclusive $200 pure gold coin featuring a large-scale version of the circulation coin’s reverse design is available for $3,999.95 which is limited to 450 coins worldwide.

These collectibles may be ordered by contacting the Mint at 1-800-267-1871 in Canada, 1-800-268-6468 in the US, or online. They are also available at the Royal Canadian Mint’s Ottawa and Winnipeg boutiques, as well as through the Mint’s global network of dealers and distributors, including participating Canada Post outlets.



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  • One Comment

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    1. MJ Kirchhoff

      It’s great to see Indigenous people celebrated for their role in the Klondike discovery; it’s been a long time coming, but placing Shaaw Tlaa by the creek on this coin is a bit of a puzzler because she likely wasn’t there. According to the George Carmack papers at the University of Washington, Shaaw Tlaa stayed behind at fish camp on the Klondike River with her three year old daughter Graphie Grace while the 3 men prospected. This makes sense when you consider that the hike the men were taking was over 60 km of rough terrain on meager rations.

      Kulsin, another Indigenous member of the Carmack party who was at the fish camp, confirmed that it was only the three men who took off into the hills, and at least two prospectors stopped at Shaaw Tlaa’s camp and traded with her while the men were gone. (William Douglas Johns, The Early Yukon, Coutts Collection, Yukon Archives; R.C. Kirk, Twelve Months in Klondike, William Heinemann, London, 1899, p. 176).

      I understand that there are several references to Shaaw Tlaa being with the group and actually finding the gold herself, but these references are usually romantic notions from the 1920s and 30s that are easily debunked. The fact that Shaaw Tlaa stated in the January 17, 1901 Victoria British Colonist that Keish discovered the gold is further evidence she wasn’t on the trip. I might add that Deb Vanasse, the biographer of Shaaw Tlaa, (Wealth Woman, Kate Carmack and the Klondike Race for Gold, University of Alaska Press, 2016), is in general agreement with these arguments.

      One important point remains to be made however. Even though Shaaw Tlaa wasn’t actually with the prospecting party when gold was discovered, she was a vital member of the group, acting in a support role by putting up food and earning money from her sewing. The three men couldn’t have done what they did without her, and thus she absolutely deserves to be on the coin as co-discoverer, even though she wasn’t on the creek as portrayed.

      Who knows? Perhaps this “controversy” about such a remarkable woman will make the coin even more of a numismatic prize.

      September 24, 2021 at 1:28 AM

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