Illustrator’s Canada-shaped coin draws from nature

The Royal Canadian Mint has released its first-ever coin shaped like the country itself — and an Ottawa illustrator came up with the design.

Alisha Giroux told CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning that she was drawing Canada’s map “for fun” one day when she realized the country’s shorelines and provincial borders could be represented as animals.

She turned Quebec into a snowy owl taking flight, and Ontario into a loon with its wings folded. British Columbia, meanwhile, became a spirit bear.

Giroux decided to design a two-colour version of her map for Canada’s 150th anniversary and posted it online. About a year ago, she received a call from the mint, with an offer to have her design featured on a coin. 

“I had a little cry, because it was immensely flattering, and surreal, and very special,” Giroux told Ottawa Morning.

“People seemed to kindle to the idea, and it led to this.”

Ottawa-based graphic designer Alisha Giroux has created the first Canada-shaped coin for the Royal Canadian Mint. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

Retails for $340

Giroux said her original design had to be warped slightly, however, to fit on the coin. 

“We moved the Maritime provinces around just a little bit as well to fit. That was probably the trickiest. But other than that, it is pretty much true to the original design.” 

The coin also includes Giroux’s initials just below a chickadee representing New Brunswick, something she said “hasn’t quite sunk in.”

Alisha Giroux’s illustration of the map of Canada has wound up on the Royal Canadian Mint’s first ever Canada-shaped coin 6:27

The oddly-shaped coin retails for $340, prompting Giroux’s friends to call it a “Gucci coin.” 

Nonetheless, she said her family will be purchasing it — as are avid coin collectors from across the globe. 

“There are buyers from absolutely all over the world,” she said. “I don’t get told how many they sell, but I know it’s quite wide.”