Artist coins work for Canadian mint

Okotoks: Bernie Brown's pieces part of souvenir collection

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014 06:00 am

Bernie Brown's work was used for the Royal Canadian Mint's $10 collector souvenior coin “The Canadian Cowboy.” The coin is part of the mint's O Canada series which is coming out in July.
Bernie Brown's work was used for the Royal Canadian Mint's $10 collector souvenior coin “The Canadian Cowboy.” The coin is part of the mint's O Canada series which is coming out in July.
Royal Canadian Mint

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It's hard to make a mint as an artist, however, the mint is making some coins from the work of a foothills artist.

Western artist Bernie Brown has had two of his works selected for the Royal Canadian Mints collective coin series which will be issued in July. Brown's work was selected for a $10 collector's coin in the O Canada series and for a $25 collector's coin.

It caught Brown totally by surprise — the mint called him last June.

“She (a Canadian mint representative) told me they were looking for someone who did western art and they went on a website and my name popped up,” Brown said. “They asked me if I would be willing to submit my work.”

He was encouraged to submit two pieces of work.

“She called me back and told me one of my pieces was selected, which is not very common for a first-time applicant,” Brown said. “They then called me back and I thought they were going to tell me they changed their minds. They told me my work was good enough for two coins.”

Any Okotoks resident who has looked to the west will recognize the scenery on the $10 coin. The view is from where he lived when he first moved to Okotoks in 1994 — up on the hill south of the cemetery.

“I said to myself this view is just something I have to share and I drew it and it went over very well with the Calgary Stampede art show,” Brown said. “Now I am just delighted to have it on a coin.”

The $10 coin is horse and rider from a photograph from a branding in the 1990s. He is looking over some cattle with the Rockies in the background.

“I don't even think I know his name — I just pulled him out of the picture and put him with the background,” Brown said. “The view is the Rockies in the west.”

The $25 coin is a scenic look Rod Hodgson leading a pack horse with the Rockies in the background. It was taken west of Red Deer.

Anyone familiar with Brown's western art sketches know they don't usually come as a round toonie sized image. There was plenty of fine-tuning which had to be done.

“I had to work back and forth with a couple of engravers down east,” Brown said. “I would send in a design and then they would tell me what I would have to do to adapt a rectangular picture into a round one… I had to do a little cut and paste, I had to make the mountains a little smaller and reduce the amount of open space.

“I probably ended up redrawing half of it.”

Brown has won plenty of awards for his western art, but he takes special pride in being printed by the mint, as it is a fond reminder of his dad, Doug.

“My dad used to collect coins and I know this would be pretty exciting for him,” said Brown, who grew up in Saskatchewan. “He had buckets of coins and from the Franklin mint he would get these series of coins and stuff.

“He passed away about six years ago and when I got the call, I said to myself: 'This is pretty neat.'”

The coins will come out in July, however, they can be pre-ordered by going to the Royal Canadian Mint web site at

Information is also available at Canada post offices.


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