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Vancouver Island artist creates West Coast orca scene for new silver coin

Image adorns Royal Canadian Mint’s This is Canada series’ Wondrous Waters theme

The Royal Canadian Mint’s first coin in its new sterling silver This Is Canada series should look very familiar to people on the B.C. coast.

That’s because the coastal scene of a pod of killer whales was painted by a local artist who has lived in this environment all his life.

Campbell River artist Glen Green was chosen to create the image on the first coin of the This is Canada series’ Wondrous Waters theme. The theme is depicted in a four-part exploration of the waters that surround Canada and begins with the Pacific Ocean.

“I basically used the background from this area here,” Green said. “I’ve been in Campbell River for not-quite seven years but we’ve got a cabin on Cortes (Island) and I’ve been (going) there since I was 15 years old.”

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The series includes three other coastal regions: Arctic Coast, Atlantic Coast and the Great Lakes. They’re all designed by artists from the regions, are 99.9 per cent silver, have a face value of $20 and sell for $104.95.

“A new annual series, This Is Canada brings you the wonders and wildlife that are synonymous with this country. This is Canada – in the hearts and minds of Canadians, and in the eyes of the world,” the Royal Canadian Mint’s website says.

An artist from each of the regions depicted was chosen but Green explains that you have to compete for the commission by submitting proposed images.

“You don’t ever get chosen outright,” Green said. “You have to compete for it.”

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Green is familiar with working for the mint, as he’s done a number of commissions over the years, going back to 2007 when he was first contacted to contribute to a series of coins commemorating the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

“I actually probably started, I think, when they called me in 2007 to look into these coins for the Olympics and ever since then I’m sort of wondering, ‘Oh, that’s a good gig,’” he said.

When the Royal Canadian Mint contacted him back then, Green didn’t know how he had became known to them. It turned out that somebody else was doing work for the mint at the time and they asked him about other artists.

“He just said my name, I don’t even know who the fellow was, really,” Green said.

Once he did the Olympic coins – a series of quarters – Green was on a list of their go-to artists and has been designing coins ever since. You’ve probably had some of his coins in your pockets.

The image of the de Havilland Beaver was part of a series of coins put out by the Royal Canadian Mint that Campbell River artist Glen Green created. Coincidentally, this is the same airplane model that is displayed on Highway 19 as it enters Campbell River via Campbellton. Royal Canadian Mint image courtesy Glen Green

Besides the Olympic coins, he created a series for the mint on a Canadian federation and travel theme depicting modes of transportation like a boat, trains and a plane. He likes to point out his de Havilland Beaver floatplane image the mint used because it’s an image strongly connected to Campbell River with its history of floatplane travel and the restored floatplane on display on Highway 19 as it enters the city.

Again, you’ve probably seen the coin many times.

“There’s literally millions of them out there. You’ll probably have one in your pocket,” he said.

And while the mint work is a “good gig,” he, sadly, doesn’t get paid for every coin his image is on.

“Unfortunately, you don’t get a royalty for every coin,” he said.

Artist Glen Green is known for his paintings of famous professional athletes. This painting of the Carolina Hurricanes star – now coach – and Campbell River product Rod Brind’Amour was auctioned to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis research. Courtesy of Glen Green

Green has made a living with his art on coins, Bradley Exchange plates and in paintings of famous professional athletes. He’s painted Gordie Howe, Wayne Gretzky, Rocket Richard, Jean Belliveau, Michael Jordan and Mark McGwire, among many others.

Last year he did a painting of Carolina Hurricanes former-captain, now-coach and Campbell River product Rod Brind’Amour which was auctioned at the Rod Brind’Amour/Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Golf Classic, a fundraiser for cystic fibrosis research and which Brind’Amour has supported since its inception 26 years ago.

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