Apparently, Winnipeg is the place to be if you want to make money hand over fist – literally.
A high-tech plant at the Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg produces over 1 billion circulation coins each year. In fact, the high-speed circulation presses can produce 20 million coins each day – or 750 coins per second! That’s what I call a chunk of change.
Downtown Ottawa is home to a secondary location of the Royal Canadian Mint, however, production here focuses on collector coins and medals (as opposed to the actual coins Canadians use from day to day). The girls and I recently had the chance to tag along with an area Boy Scouts’ group on a tour of the facility (hey, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right??).
My first piece of advice for taking a tour is this: Go when they are actually in production. Our tour was on a Sunday afternoon. Do you think the Mint workers were on the job, working their specialized machines? No, they were not. As a result, our tour was a lot of looking down, through windows, into dormant production areas. Not super dynamic.
Secondly, you will be presented with a lot of information, but there is really nothing to do on the tour. I mean, they’re not exactly going to let you take the $750,000 gold bar and put it into the intensely-hot melting oven. So, be prepared to stand and listen to the tour guide. For younger kids – or those with a limited attention span – this is probably not the best tour for you. My eight-year-old daughter loved it, while my five-year-old daughter was getting pretty whiney by the end.
On the plus side, the tour is pretty quick, cheap (oh, the irony!), informative and it ends in a gift shop (OK – that’s on the plus side for the kids; not so much for the parents who have to shell out for a stereotypically ‘Canadian’ souvenir – think lots of beaver and Mountie-themed items).
At the end of the day, a visit to the Mint is not a bad idea if you’re looking for something different to do on a frigidly-cold afternoon. After all, they say change is good.