People who know me well, know this about me. But for those of you (well, most of you I suppose…) who think I am ultra cool, know this: I like coins.
Now, I’m no coin collector, if that’s what you’re thinking. I don’t like all coins. In fact, I don’t like most coins. What I like, and maybe this makes me even nerdier, is Canadian quarters. As a kid, there were only two kinds: the regular kind (moose head) and the “fancy” kind (mountie). As I recall there was also a “fancy” dime – some sort of bird – a tern perhaps? (feel free to correct me, anyone). That’s about it.
Whenever I came across one of these special quarters, I would feel a little thrill. And then tuck it away, to be spent only when I ran out of allowance and wanted a junkfood fix from Tucker’s corner store. But that habit of saving these coins, even if only briefly, stayed with me. When they changed all the bills, back when I was a late teen/early twentysomething, I saved the old ones too.
So you can imagine I was in heaven when the new “province” series of quarters came out. I began collecting with diligence that only (or often or sometimes) comes with early adulthood. Infrequently, but then with increasing regularity, “they” (that would be the mint, I suppose) began releasing more and more “fancy” quarters. This made them a bit less special. But I still stowed them in my old jewelry box – the one my dad brought me back from Egypt when I was 10, and which I have carted around with me from apartment to apartment, and from house to house, ever since.
I can’t say that I have saved them all. But certain ones did get me excited. Like the colourized ones – the breast cancer one, or the poppy one, which caused a great spy kerfuffle south of the border. I also liked the Terry Fox one, and the recent hockey one I’ve seen (though I’m not an especial fan of the sport) but have yet to hang on to. Now I tell myself I’m saving them for my kids; my son, already, shows sure signs of nerdiness. He is a gearhead, and also enjoys simple, repetitive actions, like digging and planting in the garden, or packing and unpacking the camping cooler.
All of which brings me to a news story on CBC radio I heard at suppertime. There is a new $20 coin which is the world’s first coin with plasma effect (to create the “blue hues and capture the frigid essence of the Arctic”) and which, ok, didn’t interest me too much at first. As I say, I like quarters. But then I heard the story behind it. The coin is meant to honour polar exploration, and so on it is 16th c. explorer Martin Frobisher, as well as an Inuit man paddling his kayak. But, “as it happens”, this juxtaposition evokes a dark moment in Canadian history. This Frobisher dude actually kidnapped some Inuits, on two different occasions, and brought them back to England as proof of his successful voyage to the “new world”, and where they promptly died. So that was a drag, to say the least, and a poor choice by the folks at the Royal Canadian Mint.
Goddessforbid anybody do a little fact checking never mind learning a bit of history.
Either way, I’m still a nerd.