2023 Canada Kathleen "Kit" Coleman: Pioneer Journalist Proof Silver Dollar (No Tax)
Who was “Kit”? That’s what readers of the Toronto Daily Mail (later The Mail and Empire) were asking, as they pored over the writings of Kathleen Blake Coleman. An intrepid reporter with a lively journalistic voice, “Kit” Coleman rose above the fray in the male-dominated newspaper industry, tackling a wide range of issues as well as the topics typically covered in women’s columns. She made history 125 years ago by becoming North America’s first accredited woman war correspondent. Coleman also helped establish the Canadian Women’s Press Club in 1904 and served as its first president, and later became Canada’s first syndicated woman columnist.
In a time when women journalists were limited to writing about the female perspective and women’s issues, Kathleen Blake Coleman paved the way for better representation in newsrooms and a more equal standing for Canadian women in other aspects of life.
She was born Catherine Ferguson in 1856, in County Galway, Ireland, but identified herself privately as Kathleen Willis when she first came to Canada in 1884. She adopted the middle name Blake and by the time she began publishing, she was formally known as Kathleen Blake Watkins, and as Kathleen Blake Coleman when she later remarried.
Her pen name “Kit” and her public persona had readers guessing both her identity and gender. In her column, Coleman covered a wide range of topics in an attempt to break free from gender-based restrictions imposed upon the few presswomen of that era.
Kit first joined the Toronto Daily Mail as a women’s editor in 1889 in order to support herself and her two young children. Her weekly, seven-column “Woman’s Kingdom” page featured a mix of observations and advice, thought-provoking articles and travel writings. Coleman was known to go undercover in other cities, such as London and San Francisco, in order to write about social issues and the plight of the poor. Though her travel writings were curtailed after the Mail merged with the Empire in 1895, Kit was dispatched to London in 1897 to cover Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee; while there, she spent time with Sir Wilfrid Laurier, then the prime minister of Canada (and reportedly an avid reader of Coleman’s column).
In 1898, during the Spanish-American War, Coleman became North America’s first accredited woman war correspondent. While she was authorized to accompany American troops in Cuba, her male colleagues and the army commanders on the ground were opposed to the idea of having a woman in their midst, and they prevented her travel. Stranded in Florida, she eventually landed in Cuba in July 1898; while she had missed the main battles, her accounts of the war’s aftermath made her internationally famous.
Designed by Canadian artist Pandora Young, the coin’s reverse features a silhouette of journalist Kathleen “Kit” Blake Coleman (1856-1915) holding an open notebook and pen. Within that silhouette are various elements that represent her life and career (from top to bottom): The Mail and Empire building in Toronto, Ont.; SS Circassian, the passenger ship that brought the Irish-born writer to Canada in 1884; a partial map of the Atlantic Ocean, to represent Coleman’s travels and dispatches; a view of Coleman writing at her desk; and a vintage typewriter that symbolizes her legacy and impact on Canadian journalism. The obverse features the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II by Susanna Blunt. The obverse also bears a special marking that includes four pearls symbolizing the four effigies that have graced Canadian coins and the double date of her reign.
Item Number: 205764
Composition: 99.99% pure silver
Weight: 23.17 g
Diameter: 36.07 mm
Face Value: $1
Artist: Pandora Young
• A journalism pioneer! One of Canada’s most successful early presswomen and a woman of many firsts, journalist Kathleen “Kit” Blake Coleman is honoured on Canada’s Proof Dollar in 2023, which marks the 125th anniversary of her becoming North America’s first accredited woman war correspondent.
• The Royal Canadian Mint's Proof Dollar for 2023! Crafted in 99.99% pure silver, the annual Fine Silver Proof Dollar is the Royal Canadian Mint's flagship collector coin and one of the year’s most anticipated collectibles.
• A design within a design! The silhouette collage on the coin’s reverse captures key moments in the journalist’s life—from the office of the Toronto newspapers that published her columns from 1889 to 1911, to the vintage typewriter that represents her legacy and impact on journalism.
• An outstanding sculpt! The Fine Silver Proof Dollar's collage-within-a-silhouette design is incredibly detailed, and all those finely engraved elements are enhanced by a mix of frostings that help make each image distinct from the other.
• Limited Supply! Only 35,000 coins—a lower mintage than in 2022—are available to collectors worldwide.
• Also available: The 2023 Fine Silver Proof Dollar honouring Kathleen “Kit” Blake Coleman is included in the 2023 Special Edition Proof Set, and you’ll find a selectively gold-plated version in the 2023 Fine Silver Proof Dollar Set.
The coin is encapsulated and presented in a Royal Canadian Mint-branded clamshell with a black beauty box.