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Silver coin’s West Coast orca scene a natural for Vancouver Island artist

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 in 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. So, like, I know the coast.”

The series includes three other coastal regions: Arctic Coast, Atlantic Coast and the Great Lakes. They are 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.”

Green is familiar with working for the mint, he has 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, which were a series of quarters, Green was now on a list of their go-to artists and has been doing coins ever since. You’ve probably had some of his coins in your pockets.

Besides the Olympic coins, he did 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.

READ MORE: Campbellton Neighbourhood Association dedicates Beaver floatplane

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.

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 which is a fundraiser for cystic fibrosis research and which Brind’Amour has supported since it’s inception 26 years ago.

Born and raised in North Vancouver, Green moved to Campbell River seven years ago but has been passing through the area since he was 15 when his parents bought a recreational property on Cortes Island, which he now co-owns.

When he produced an image for the mint to consider for its This Is Canada series, he got compliments on its accuracy. He shrugs them off saying it’s where he lives.

“It’s not like I don’t know what I’m doing here,” he says with a smile.

The image on the coin depicts a pod of orca that includes a calf and, again, he impressed experts the mint brought in to vet the image, like they do.

“The expert came back and said I nailed it,” Green said. “He thought it was great.”

READ MORE: Unveiling the vital role seaplanes had in connecting the coast

Alistair Taylor

About the Author: Alistair Taylor

I have been editor of the Campbell River Mirror since 1989. Our team takes great pride in serving our community.
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