2014 $20 .9999 Silver Coloured Coin: Iconic Polar Bear
The majesty and power of this amazing Canadian Arctic species is captured in stunning detail in the Royal Canadian Mint’s world-renowned 99.99% pure silver.
This coin is 99.99% pure silver. The reverse image features a full-body colour portrait of a large and powerful polar bear in its natural Arctic environment. The bear looks to the right side of the coin, its body pointed to the left in a graceful curve. Its massive musculature, huge front and rear paws and vast furred body are presented in dimensional detail, each claw, hair, and shadow evident. The large sloping head, small ears and black-nosed muzzle illustrate the renowned physiognomy of this iconic Arctic dweller. The bear crouches atop a small rise in an ice field. The vast frozen landscape that the polar bear calls home is evident all around it, from the rugged white terrain upon which this specimen pauses to the vast rocky mountain range in the far distance behind it and the ominously clouded sky that rises darkly above the scene. The stark shadow cast by the bear on the ice below speaks to the harsh contrasts of this northern realm.
King of the Arctic
The majestic polar bear is a fitting icon for a nation that, like Ursus maritimus itself, has been shaped by the forces of ice, wind, water and stone. Stoic and strong, adaptable and clever, the polar bear has long captivated the Canadian imagination and been held up as a symbol of the northern spirit. As master of its icy domain, the polar bear also reminds us of the ongoing importance of Canada’s Arctic sovereignty—and, increasingly, of the need to protect and preserve a region that is becoming more vulnerable in the face of a changing global climate.
Of the 19 circumpolar populations of Ursus maritimus, comprising about 25,000 members, the greatest number—about 15,000—resides in the Canadian Arctic. This truly massive land animal can exceed 600 kilograms, measures about 1.7 metres at shoulder height when standing on all fours, and can reach nearly 4 metres when standing on its hind legs. It lives most of its life on the snow-covered Arctic sea ice, feeding primarily on fat-rich ringed and bearded seals at open water holes called “leads.”
As we learn more about the polar bear, the iconic animal’s importance to Canadians grows ever deeper. A true study in adaptation, the polar bear is believed by some researchers to have branched off from a common ancestor with brown bears about 150,000 years ago. Becoming isolated in the glaciated northern environment, the species developed important features that have allowed it to thrive in a land where temperatures can dip below -45 degrees Celsius for much of the year. These features include a thick, colourless pelt that protects it from the cold and camouflages it against the snow, dense fat layers, claws and teeth optimized for hunting and eating seals, fur-covered footpads, foreshortened ears and tail to help retain heat, and more highly-developed scenting capabilities than other bears.
As worldwide fascination with the polar bear and its Arctic habitat grows, we can remain hopeful that the incredible survival skills that make it so symbolically poignant for Canadians will also help to preserve this amazing animal for the long term.
Face Value:20 dollars
Composition:99.99% fine silver