Going For Olympic Gold in Winnipeg

Before I get a ton of mail saying, Bob are you daft?  The Olympics are in Vancouver this year.  Yes, I would reply,  indeed the games are in Vancouver.  But did you know that the medals themselves were crafted by the Royal Canadian Mint.  Which just so happens to operate in two locations, our nations capital in Ottawa and my home town of Winnipeg.

Although the medals were physically crafted exclusively at the Ottawa facility;  it was through a collaborative effort between the two sites that the medals were formed.  Winnipeg being a partner in the crafting of the medals played host to a special display of the process and product.

Driving up to the world-famous glass structure on Lagimodiere Blvd., we were greeted by a snow sculpture, carved in tribute to Canada’s hosting of the 21st Winter Olympic Games.

Mint Snow Sculpture (Coin Side)

The multi-sided sculpture depicts 4 scenes representative of Canadian Sport and Culture.  The Western face of the sculpture depicting the Canadian Dollar Coin, or as we call it “The Loonie”.  The new Canadian dollar coin by comparison is a tribute to the Vancouver Games.

The New 2010 Canadian Olympic Coin

Mint Snow Sculpture ( Speed Skater)

A speed skater graces the North face of the sculpture depicting Canada’s hopes for Olympic Gold in Winnipeg’s own Cindy Klassen and Team Canada flag bearer Clara Hughes.

Mint Snow Sculpture (Inukshuk)

The Inukshuk, an enduring symbol of the Canadian North.  Once used as a navigation aid by the Inuit peoples of the Canadian Arctic.  Today it serves as the symbol of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games.

Mint Snow Sculpture (Olympic Cauldron with Mint in Background)

Finally the Olympic Flame is represented here, shown with the Mint in the background.  Approaching the Building one could not help but notice the depictions of Olympic glory proudly shining in the afternoon sun.

Olympic Medals on the Mint

Once inside for the exhibit I learned a few interesting facts about the medals.  For the first time each and every Olympic Medal awarded in Vancouver would be unique.  Each individual medallion is laser engraved with a portion of an original artwork designed by Corrine Hunt.  An Orca for the Olympic Medals and a Raven for the Paralympic Games.

Medals of the 21st Winter Olympics

Speaking with designer Renato Remozzi, he explained that the  artwork was divided into 615 sections for the Orca design on the Olympic Medals. Likewise for the Paralympic  games the Raven Design was broken down into 399 portions.  Renato went on, explaining the reason for the undulating shape of the awards.  “They represent the landscape of Canada, from the Mountains to the Sea. Canada is not flat, we reasoned the Medals shouldn’t be either”.

A Die used to Strike Paralympic Medals

Because of the wavy nature of the medals the design had to be laser engraved onto each individual medal.  These medallions are also eco-friendly containing post consumer electronic waste that was destined for landfill.  The medals are as I can attest are very heavy, among the heaviest ever supplied to an Olympic Games, weighing in at between 500 and 576 grams.  That’s roughly equal to almost one and a third pound!

Yours Truly Posing with the Medals

As we were leaving the Mint for the afternoon, I was filled with pride looking out at the scores of National Flags representing the Countries the Royal Canadian Mint serves.  Over 60 nations worldwide use coins that are made in Winnipeg.

Flags of Customer Nations Serviced by the Mint

I thought it proper, to see all of those flags united in peaceful commerce.  Like the flags of the nations participating at the Winter Games.  All in one place, competing in winter sport. Going for the Gold in Canada.

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