Commemorative Circulation $1 Coin Program Celebrating Oscar Peterson

Product Owner: Royal Canadian Mint

Project Team

RCM Commemorative Circulation Program

Date the Program was first implemented


Project Description

Commemorative Circulation coin programs are pan-Canadian commemorations that honour subjects of national significance. These special circulating coins provide Canadians an accessible means through which to engage with our history, culture, and values in an innovative and timely way.

The coin was created specifically to celebrate Canada’s diversity in a manner that engaged Canadians in three primary innovative ways:

  1. Community engagement
    This coin and its supporting promotional campaign were created with the critical input of individuals and organizations representing Mr. Peterson’s family, the jazz community, and champions for equity in representations of Canadian heritage and history.
  2. Coin Design
    The coin design innovated by:

    • featuring the first Canadian circulation coin to feature a Black Canadian and a musician;
    • highlighting the Mint’s technological prowess by featuring Mr. Peterson’s favourite colour: purple;
    • including deep detail in his likeness, painstakingly created with his family;
    • including the closing bars of ‘Hymn to Freedom’, an enduring international civil rights anthem, acting as an ‘Easter Egg’ enticing Canadians to learn more about the design and its subject.
  3. Supporting Promotional Campaign
    The promotional campaign for the coin included a special landing page outlining Mr. Peterson’s life, work, and accomplishments. In collaboration with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation a podcast series was created highlighting Mr Peterson’s significance to younger generations of artists. The unveiling of the coin included representatives of the Government of Canada, Mr. Peterson’s family, and members of the Canadian music community in a place, Roy Thompson Hall, that meant a great deal to Mr. Peterson.

Countr(ies) where implemented

Commemorative Circulation coins are produced, distributed, and promoted by the Mint on behalf of the Government of Canada. As such, they are available to all Canadians. However, the promotional materials would be available to anyone with access to the digital channels anywhere in the world.

Describe the communication channels, media, format

First, the program used the coin design itself as a means of communication: three million of these coins were produced by the Mint and distributed across all of Canada, making them available to all Canadians.
Second, the supporting campaign digital media advertisements and promotional methods, through a strategically created a targeted advertising campaign, leveraging all of the Mint’s social media channels and those of community voices with whom the Mint worked to create and launch the coin, by hosting the first live, in-person, unveiling event since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, and working with partners like the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to reach new and younger audiences through a specifically crafted podcast series highlighting Mr. Peterson’s enduring impact and legacy among younger Canadians.

Creativity and innovation of design; and educational features of the program

The design of this coin was specifically created to be an innovative representation of its inspiring subject, who is the first Black Canadian and a musician to appear on a Canadian circulation coin. The Mint produces exceptional circulation coins featuring colour, which was higlighted in this design by integrating a bright splash of purple, Mr. Petesron’s favourite colour, to give the coin a bright and inviting feature, as well as to add an additional detail to increase the story-telling weaved into the design. The Mint worked consistently and including deep detail in his likeness, combing over each detail with the Peterson family to ensure not only the accuracy of the design, but to offer Canadians a richness of detail with which to engage. Including the closing bars of ‘Hymn to Freedom’ is a critical detail that will enable Canadians to learn more about the design and its subject.

Quality of the delivery channels of the engagement program

As mentioned above, the Commemorative Circulation Program exists to provide accessible keepsakes representing Canada’s best and brightest to all Canadians across our large nation. The Mint’s management of coin distribution through the coin pool ensured true national distribution of the coins from coast to coast to coast in Canada. As such, the coins themselves, which are a key to having Canadians engage with the program, were distributed nationally and widely available. The RCM produced roughly one of these coins for every ten Canadians, as such their potential reach is significant.
In addition to the coins themselves, the Mint employed a variety of channels to drive engagement through the coins’ promotion: the engagement component of this coins supporting campaign was digital. The Mint employed channels including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, as well as creating a dedicated landing page ( sharing the significance of Mr. Peterson’s life and work as a means through which to engage Canadians. In addition, the Mint worked with the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) to create a series of videos and podcasts highlighting Mr. Peterson’s legacy among present-day musicians as a testament to his lasting influence and continued relevance in Canadian culture and music today:
Lastly, the Mint launched and unveiled the coin with an eye to generating earned media as an additional means through which to generate awareness of the coins and drive greater engagement with Canadians.

Ease of public use and understanding (effectiveness) of the engagement

The Mint’s objective has been to make the coin and its supporting materials as accessible as possible. As mentioned, 3 million were produced by the Mint, which were then widely circulated across all of Canada. The volume of coins produced, combined with their wide ranging availability has made these coins easily accessible to nearly any Canadian.
Supporting programming was available at no cost to those with an internet connection, and, as such, was available to any Canadian.
These coins are produced by the Mint to drive Canadians’ engagement with their shared history in an accessible and thoughtful manner. The Oscar Peterson $1 coin is an exceptional example of the Mint’s efforts to do so.

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Awards | Currency Awards 2023


Best New Currency Public Education Program


Finalist | Nominee