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Nickel (Canadian coin)

Nickel (Canada)
Value: 0.05 CAD
Mass: 3.95 g
Diameter: 21.2 mm
Thickness: 1.76 mm
Edge: smooth
Composition: 94.5% steel,
3.5% Cu,
2% Ni
Years of Minting: 1922–present
Catalog Number: -
Design: Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada
Designer: Susanna Blunt
Design Date: 2003
Design: beaver sitting on a log
Designer: G.E. Kruger Gray
Design Date: 1937

A Canadian nickel is a coin worth five cents, patterned on the corresponding coin in the neighbouring United States, and introduced in Canada in 1922. Prior to that year, Canadian five-cent pieces were small silver coins, colloquially known as "fish scales" due to their having been very thin.



Unlike the U.S. coin of the same name, Canadian nickels were actually struck in 100% nickel originally (their American counterparts being 75% copper and only 25% nickel). This changed in 1942, due to the need to use all available nickel for military purposes due to World War II; in that year the composition became a brass alloy usually referred to as "tombac". The shape of the coin was concomitantly changed from round to dodecagonal, or 12-sided, most likely in an effort to make it easily distinguishable from the copper 1-cent coins; but a shortage of copper forced another change in the composition, so in 1944 the alloy was changed to chromium-plated steel, which gave the coins a distinct "blue" tinge. Nickel was reinstated in 1946 (the 12-sided shape was retained until 1963, when the coins again became round).

In 1948 the dies were delayed coming from the Royal Mint in London, England and some coins of all denominations bearing the 1947 date were struck in 1948 with a maple leaf to denote the wrong year.

In 1951, a special commemorative five-cent piece was struck to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the metal's initial discovery, but production of the coin had to be halted before the year even ended as the result of another war-driven nickel shortage, this one brought about by the Korean War. The chromium-plated steel alloy (which was magnetic) was then pressed into service again, this time through 1954. The coins reverted to nickel again the following year.

In 1982 the composition was changed to the same as that of the American five-cent piece—cupronickel (75% copper and 25% nickel). In 2000 nickel-plated steel nickels were introduced, although production of the cupronickel version continued until 2001.

History of Composition [1]

Years Mass Diameter/Shape Composition
2000–present 3.95 g 21.2 mm, round 94.5% steel, 3.5% copper, 2% nickel plating
1982–2001 4.6 g 21.2 mm, round 75% copper, 25% nickel
1963–1981 4.54 g 21.21 mm, round 99.9% nickel
1955–1962 4.54 g 21.21 mm, 12-sided 99.9% nickel
1951–1954 4.54 g 21.21 mm, 12-sided chrome-plated steel
1946–1950 4.54 g 21.21 mm, 12-sided 99.9% nickel
1944–1945 4.54 g 21.21 mm, 12-sided chrome-plated steel
1942–1943 4.54 g 21.21 mm, 12-sided 88% copper, 12% zinc ("tombac")
1922–1942 4.54 g 21.21 mm, round 99.9% nickel
1920–1921 1.167 g 14.494 mm, round 80% silver, 20% copper
1858–1919 1.167 g 14.494 mm, round 92.5% silver, 7.5% copper


Five-cent coins dated 1921 are among the rarest and most collectible Canadian circulation coins, with approximately 400 specimens known. In May of 1921 the government of Canada passed an act authorizing the change to the larger nickel coin, and subsequently the majority of the 1921 mint run was melted down.[1]


Year Theme Artist Mintage Composition
1943 Victory Design Thomas Shingles 24,760,256 88% copper, 12% zinc
1944 Victory Design Thomas Shingles 11,532,784 88% copper, 12% zinc
1945 Victory Design Thomas Shingles 18,893,216 88% copper, 12% zinc
1951 200th Anniversary, Isolation of Nickel Stephan Trenka 8,329,321 100% Nickel
1967 Centennial Design, Rabbit Alex Colville 36,876,574 100% Nickel
1992 125th Anniversary of Confederation, Double Dated G.E. Kruger Gray 53,732,000 75% Copper, 25% Nickel
2005 Victory Design, 60th Anniversary, End of World War II Thomas Shingles N/A 94.5% steel, 3.5% Copper, 2% Nickel
Victory Nickels
The 2005 Victory Nickel The 1945 Victory Nickel

First Strikes

Year Theme Mintage Issue Price
2005 Beaver 1,855 $14.95
2005 Victory 10,955 $14.95
2006 With New Mint Mark 5,000 $29.95


  • Victory Nickel: Victory Reverse, V also indicating the denomination in Roman numerals. A morse code pattern was also used instead of rim denticles spelling out "WE WIN WHEN WE WORK WILLINGLY".
  • The first commemoratives were planned for 1927 to celebrate Canada's 60th anniversary. A contest was held and the winners were Gustav Hahn for the one-cent, and J.A.H. MacDonald for the five and twenty-five cents. The RCM decided to not turn the designs into coinage. [2]
  • When coinage was changed in 1937, the caribou was planned for the 5-cent coin, the beaver was planned for the 10-cent coin, and the Bluenose was planned for the 25 cent coin. [3]
  • The Big Nickel, a nine-metre (30-foot) replica of the 1951 nickel which stands on the grounds of Dynamic Earth in Sudbury, Ontario, is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's largest coin.


  1. ^ Coins of Canada, J.A. Haxby & R.C. Willey, Unitrade Press (2003), ISBN 1-894763-09-2
  2. ^ Striking Impressions, James A. Haxby, 1983, ISBN 0-660-91234-1
  3. ^ Striking Impressions, James A. Haxby, 1983, ISBN 0-660-91234-1

See also

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Nickel_(Canadian_coin)". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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