Canadian jazz legend Oscar Peterson is being honoured with a commemorative $1 coin celebrating his life and legacy.
The Montreal-based pianist and composer was one of the greatest Canadian musicians who ever lived, and he left an indelible mark on the history of jazz. With this, Peterson becomes the first Canadian musician to appear on a circulation coin.
The Royal Canadian Mint unveiled the commemorative coin Thursday in front of family and friends gathered in Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall.
“The Mint is passionate about celebrating stories of exceptional Canadians on its coins and I am delighted that Oscar Peterson … is being celebrated as one of the world’s most respected and influential jazz artists of all time,” said Marie Lemay, president and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint. “Mr. Peterson’s music and legendary performances have brought joy to millions of music lovers in Canada and around the world and we are proud to honour him, through this coin, for his exceptional contributions to Canadian music and culture.”
The coin will begin circulating on Aug. 15, to coincide with his birthday — which JAZZ.FM91 has proclaimed Oscar Peterson Day.
“When I was a child travelling the world with my dad, I remember being curious about the figures on each country’s currency. It was an opportunity to learn about the history of where I was visiting. One thing that has always been important to me is that as Canadians, we take the time to explore our history — all aspects of it,” said Céline Peterson, daughter of Oscar and host of No, I Do Not Play Piano on JAZZ.FM91. “Knowing that Canadians at home and anyone who visits from abroad will hold the opportunity to learn about a formidable figure in our nation’s history in the palm of their hand brings me an immense amount of joy. My dad being given this recognition by the Royal Canadian Mint is something I never would have even thought to imagine because, to me, he is and always will be, Dad.”
The Oscar Peterson coin was designed by artist Valentine De Landro, an artist and illustrator from Ajax, Ont. His design features Oscar Peterson at the piano and a flowing musical scale showing two closing bars of his famous composition Hymn to Freedom.
The commemorative loonie is limited to a mintage of three million coins, of which two million feature a purple accent, Oscar Peterson’s favourite colour. It will reach Canadians through their change as bank branches and businesses replenish their inventories of $1 circulation coins.
The coloured and uncoloured circulation coin can also be purchased together as part of a six-piece collectors’ set. Other collectors’ items include special wrap rolls of 25 one-dollar circulation coins, in coloured and uncoloured versions, as well as fine silver and pure gold versions of the circulation coin. Those can be ordered online at mint.ca/oscarpeterson.