Skip to main content

Adam Young, the artist of the design for the new $50 coin from the Royal Canadian Mint.

Handout

The artist Adam Young is not allowed to say how much he was paid by the Royal Canadian Mint to design its new $50 coin, but it’s probably a pretty penny. Weighing in at five ounces and retailing for $529.95, the pure-silver piece is worth its weight in something worth more than silver.

“All I can say is that Royal Canadian Mint paid me an amount for the design, and then, when the coin was released, they gave me an extra bit of money,” says Young, a teacher and artist based in Joe Batt’s Arm on Newfoundland’s Fogo Island. “They now hold full copyright on the design.”

Originally submitted to the Mint for consideration involving the Canada sesquicentennial celebration, Young’s initially rejected artwork remained in the Mint’s archives before it was selected to grace the new coin. The design has the vague shape of a maple leaf, with 13 layers of land representing the country’s territories and provinces. At the base, water connects both east and west shores; on the sides are pine trees. On top is an inukshuk. “It acts as a window to the North Star,” explains Young. “It’s a beacon of light, welcoming people to shore.”

Story continues below advertisement

The design has the vague shape of a maple leaf, with 13 layers of land representing the country’s territories and provinces.

Royal Canadian Mint

Young, born in Halifax and raised in Moncton, came to the shore of Fogo Island a decade ago with his wife, a native of the place. Joe Batt’s Arm is a picturesque fishing community and the most populated town on the island. The count is 1,028.

“The isolation took a while to get used to,” says Young, educated at Mount Allison University. “You’re at the mercy of the ferry.”

The island life has affected Young’s expressionist mojo. Formerly a portraiture and figurative artist, he found the island’s unique architecture inspiring. “Before I came here, I’d never seen a fishing stage before,” says Young, referring to the water’s-edge shacks on stilts. “They stand there among the waves and the snow.”

Straddling sea and land, the structures reflect the islanders' balancing act and their relationship with their chosen habitat. “The buildings represent the people,” says Young.

Not only has the coin commission made Young something of a Fogo celebrity, it has earned him notice off the island as well. An exhibition of his work will be on display in the lobby of Toronto’s Elgin Theatre for the first part of the run of the smash-hit musical Come from Away. Young plans to make his way to Toronto for the play’s Elgin opening. “I hope to take in a Maple Leaf game while I’m there,” he says.

Good luck with that. A pair of tickets to the shinny at Scotiabank Arena cost about the same as the retail value of one of those limited-edition silver coins. Perhaps Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. could commission Young. The flush Leaf owners have a licence to print money, isn’t that what they say?

Know of an unsung arts and culture hero who deserves wider acclaim? Send suggestions to bwheeler@globeandmail.com.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter