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The one-of-a-kind toonie (as the two dollar coin is known in Canada) is part of a five-coin Canada 150 collection that the Royal Canadian Mint is distributing. It features two people in a canoe, on a lake, surrounded by a forest. Above them are the green streaks of the Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, which is the part that emits a soft glow in the dark.
The coin’s design was chosen from thousands of drawings in a nationwide contest. Timothy Hsia, a doctor from Richmond in British Columbia, was the winning designer. Dr. Hsia told BBC that the “Our Wonders” contest theme inspired him. “I wanted to choose a subject that was truly wonderful, and I feel like there is nothing more truly wonderful than Canada’s Northern Lights.”
The glow-in-the-dark feature is thanks to an ink formula that contains luminescent material. Not only is it the world’s first glow-in-the-dark coin in circulation, but it’s also the world’s first colored bimetallic coin. In recent weeks, three million of the limited edition toonies have entered circulation; this means approximately one in every 10 Canadians will come in contact with the glow-in-the-dark coin. Alternatively, Canadians can purchase the coin as part of the Canada 150 collection, through the Royal Canadian Mint.
Although this toonie is the first glow-in-the-dark coin to be in circulation, it isn’t the first of its kind produced by the Royal Canadian Mint. In 2012, they created a quarter that featured a glowing Pachyrhinosaurus Lakustai dinosaur skeleton. Other glow-in-the-dark coins available, but not circulated, depict authentic Canadian scenes such as night skiing, sunset canoeing, sitting by a campfire, and animals in the moonlight.