Day 32 – July 8 – Ottawa, ON

As promised yesterday there are flowers today. It was time to go to a garden. We drove out to Maplelawn and wandered around thier English Garden. It is cared for by volunteers, I think, and was a lot ‘bushier’ than most manicured walled gardens in Britain, but it was really nice to just stroll among the colours and photograph the fleurs.

You can’t tour the house unfortunately and part of it is a Keg restaurant.

The garden was laid out in the typical box format with bisecting X paths and a central floral/fountain feature.

Red poppy
Black-eyed Susan
Scarlet Beebalm

I impressed myself with the number of blooms I could identify as I am not a gardener even though I love flowers. The ones I did not know Google Lens identified for me. This partially-open Beebalm was one of them.

Scarlet Beebalm
Evening Primrose

My dad showed my sisters and I how to connect a bud to a blossom and make a ‘lady’ with Hollyhock blossoms.

Day Lily

Google Lens did not identify this one for me.

Common Daisy

Maplelawn wasn’t very big so we drove to the Experimental Farm that is situated in the middle of Ottawa and wandered around the Ornamental Garden as we had planned to do the day before.

Chinese Bellflower

Clearly the Hosta are happy in this location.

It was only about 1:30 when we finished walking around the Ornamental Garden so we went into town to tour the Royal Canadian Mint. Because Rogers Telecommunication had some huge glitch in their system and the internet was out nation-wide, we had free parking and free admittance to the Mint.

We toured the mint in Winnepeg on our first drive across the country in 2014. All of our circulation coins, plus coins for dozens of other countries are made there. (Canada is an innovator in the manufacture of high quality coinage and we get contracts from many nations to make their coins.)

The Mint in Ottawa makes all the specialty coins, medallians and tokens and items like the 2010 Olympic medals and all military medals. They use silver, gold, and platinum. Many of the machines have been designed and patented by the Royal Canadian Mint. It was no surprise that no photos were allowed.

The other major manufacturer of coinage is Australia and our guide told us there are literally thousands of lawsuits back and forth arguing about who developed what technique or equipment first. Currently Canada is winning the most. Quite a few years ago when Australia wanted to become a world leader in coins they got contracts from so many countries they had no time to make their own coins so they contracted Canada to do it. All the coins were immediately bought by collectors and never reached circulation so Australia did not do that again.

To make the coins they cut ingots into three pieces and melt them, then run the melted metal on narrow conveyors and spray it with room temperature water to cool it before coiling it into large rounds. A round of gold is worth $43,000,000 on today’s gold market. The face value of the coins made from it will be much less.

The rounds are then fed through cutters to make the proper-size circles before being edged (which makes them last much longer if they are in circulation), buffed, weighed and stamped. Every gold and platinum coin is individually weighed and any extra metal is shaved off. All the left-over pieces from the molds and the slivers shaved are all put back in the melting pot and reused for coins.

The silver coins are machine stamped by one of two machines – one of which is rated 100% accurate and the other is 99.999999….% accurate because they purposefully made an error with it for a test so it can no longer be rated 100%. The gold and platinum coins are individually stamped by a person. Each station had an image of the coin currently being made by that person. These are not general circulation coins, they are purchased by collectors or persons or companies with an interest in the image or history imprinted, and investors. These are $20.00, $50.00 or $100.00 (or larger) commemorative coins. These coins actually have a small stamp of a maple leaf on them with their DNA. Recorded is the date it was made, the time it was stamped – to the second, it’s inspection time, which stamper imprinted it, etc. Every detail about every individual coin is recorded on it.

The Mint website says: “The most secure bullion coins in the world, our Gold and Silver Maple Leaf bullion coins are universal symbols of innovation, ingenuity and excellence. The beautiful design and purity of our bullion is instantly recognized by dealers and investors worldwide.”

We saw the mold for the $100,000 coin they made of .59 gold. Canada created this virtually pure form of gold and are the only country in the world to do so. 24-carart gold, 14-carat gold and all the gold we use for jewellry and things has additives in it. Normal ‘pure’ gold coins in Canada and elsewhere in the world are. 49. .59 had never been done. The .59 $100,000 coin was the size of a large pizza. The mold can still be used to make more if they choose.

Canada was first to make many other special coins like the “Poppy” quarter for Remembrance Day that has a red poppy on it, they made a quarter with the Northern Lights that acutally glows in the dark (they have become worth about $10.00), and special coins with Swarovski crystals on them, ceramic images and many other things.

The largest coin by far was the mold for the million-dollar coin – called the Big Maple Leaf. The only country to make such a thing. In 2007 they made 6 of them and they were huge – about 2 feet across and weighed 100 kilograms (220 lbs). They are 999.99/1000 percent pure gold. The original is still at the mint, two others are elsewhere in Canada and three were bought by people overseas. One by a man in Austria who has loaned it to a museum, one by a fellow in Germany that also loaned his to a museum in Berlin were it was promptly stolen three months later and has never been found (the thieves were caught, tried and sentenced but it is suspected the coin was melted down) and one was bought by a fellow in Dubai that had it encased in glass and made into a coffee table. Each of them sold for over $2 million when offered and are now worth over $8 million. The Big Maple Leaf remained the largest gold coin ever minted until 2011, when the 1 tonne Austrailain Gold Nugget (“Gold Kangaroo”) was minted.

You could stand in front of this image of an open vault and lift the pure silver ingot for a photo-op. They, like the Mint in Winnepeg, also have a gold ingot but they did not have enough security on staff today to have the gold one out. Even though the ingot is bolted to a base, when the gold one is on display a guard stands beside it at all times.

We went back to our dorm room at Ottawa University and since there was still no internet I just my sorted photos until we left to go to John’s cousin’s house for a family BBQ.

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