Collection: 1 Cent

The Canadian 1-Cent Coins

The penny was Canada’s first official coin. For over 150 years, Canadian circulation coins included a 1-cent coin. Canadian pennies predate the country itself, although it wasn’t until well after Confederation that they would be minted on Canadian soil.

In 2013, the Royal Canadian Mint discontinued production of the Canadian penny, though the 1-cent coin Canada is still considered legal tender. We invite you to learn more about the fascinating history of this humble coin.

When Was the 1-Cent Canadian Coin First Introduced?

Until the mid-19th century, Canadians were using a strange mix of British coins, local tokens, and coins from other countries. Believing it necessary to give the Canadian monetary system some order, the British government first started minting Canadian circulation coins in 1858, one of which was the Canadian 1-cent.

Even following Confederation in 1867, all Canadian coins, including the Canada 1-cent, continued to be minted at either the Royal Mint or Heaton Mint in England until 1908. That year, the Royal Canadian Mint was established in Ottawa. The need for a new minting facility was first recognized in 1960, but construction on the Winnipeg facility would not begin until 1972. It would take another four years to complete but, starting in 1976, every one-cent Canada coin was minted in Winnipeg until they were discontinued in 2012.

Officially, the Royal Canadian Mint refers to the coin as the “one-cent piece.” The word “penny” derives from “pence,” which was part of the British monetary system initially used in Canada. In America, the one-cent coin is referred to as the penny, which probably influenced Canadian colloquialism.

What Design Changes Did the 1-cent Coin Go Through Over the Years?

The obverse of the 1-cent Canadian coin always featured a portrait of the reigning monarch:

1858 Canadian 1-cent coin


The first Canadian pennies ever struck bore a portrait of Queen Victoria.

1908 Canadian 1-cent coin


The first pennies produced on Canadian soil bore a portrait of King Edward VII.

2012 Canadian 1-cent coin


The last Canadian pennies ever produced bore a portrait by Canadian artist Susanna Blunt of an elderly Queen Elizabeth II, who was still the reigning monarch when the Canadian 1-cent coin was discontinued.

As a symbol of Canada, maple leaves had always figured prominently in the reverse design of the one-cent piece. In the early days, the leaves surrounded the coin’s denomination, country of origin, and date. Thus, you may come across an old coin that says “One Cent Canada 1911” on the back, with maple leaves all around the outer edge.

In 1937, King George VI abruptly came to the throne following the abdication of King Edward VIII. The same year, the RCM debuted a new reverse design for the 1-cent coin Canada. G.E. Kruger-Gray created a prominent twin maple leaf design that, while not botanically correct, became iconic. With the exception of a few commemorative designs, this would remain the reverse design on the Canada 1-cent piece until its discontinuation.

Why Was the Canadian Penny Discontinued?

Around 2010, the RCM determined that the cost to produce a single penny exceeded its 1-cent value. Therefore, producing pennies was no longer cost-efficient. Because so many Canadians hoarded pennies rather than spending them, the RCM had to produce more pennies at a loss to replace them. Following a recommendation by the Senate finance committee in 2010, the federal government announced in 2012 that it would stop producing the 1-cent coin Canada the following year.

Canadian pennies are still legal tender and can be used for cash transactions. At the very least, they retain their 1-cent value, though some rare pennies are worth more. Contact us at Colonial Acres Coins for more information about Canadian pennies.

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