Housed in a castle-like structure, Canada’s original mint no longer produces currency for circulation—that now happens at Winnipeg’s Royal Canadian Mint. However the Ottawa facility is still functioning, churning out special-edition collector coins and precious metal bullion. Tours of the facility reveal the processes of coin-making.
With its towers, turrets, and crenellations, Ottawa’s Royal Canadian Mint looks a little like a fortress. And indeed, security is tight. Visitors can access the mint only as part of a guided tour, which lasts 45 minutes and focuses on the minting process. Tour guides explain how the coins are made and show participants examples of commemorative coins. During weekday tours, you can watch workers craft coins.
Some city tours of Ottawa, including day tours from Montreal, include a stop at the Royal Canadian Mint and other Ottawa highlights such as Parliament Hill, the Canadian Museum of History, and Rideau Hall.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Royal Mint is a must-see for history buffs.
- Guided tours are given in English and French.
- The mint facility is accessible to wheelchair users.
- Browse the gift shop, where you can purchase collectible coins.
How to Get There
The Royal Canadian Mint is located on the Ontario side of the Ottawa River, near the National Gallery of Canada. If you’re in Ottawa, the best way to get here is on foot, as parking can be scarce. Walking, Parliament Hill is about a 15-minute away, while ByWard Market is fewer than 10.
When to Get There
The best time to take a tour is during the week, when the facility is in use. Tour prices are discounted on weekends and during holidays, as the factory floor is not in operation at these times.
The Mint’s Precious Creations
Among the unique creations to have been issued by the mint are the medals from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and Paralympics. The wavy surface of these medals was inspired by the Vancouver-Whistler area’s mountains-meet-ocean landscape. They also feature First Nations symbols of orcas and ravens.