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    Stan Witten


    The Terry Fox one-dollar Commemorative Circulation Coin. In Memory of a Canadian Hero.

    On April 12, 1980, Terry Fox dipped his left leg in the Atlantic Ocean, and began his Marathon of Hope in St. John's Newfoundland. By Canada Day, when Terry arrived in Ottawa after 3,124km (the equivalent of a marathon a day for more than 80 days), his journey had captured the hearts of the entire nation. Terry was met in Ottawa by crowds of fans inspired by his story, and his unwavering spirit.

    Although Terry was forced to stop his run just east of Thunder Bay after an incredible 5,373 kilometers, his legacy lives on in Terry Fox runs held across the country every year. In 2005, the Royal Canadian Mint honoured Terry Fox with a commemorative one-dollar circulation coin – the first commemorative circulation coin to feature a Canadian-born hero.

    Ten years later, the Terry Fox one-dollar circulation coin remains a favourite among Canadians and coin collectors alike. Although nearly 13 million of the coins entered into circulation in 2005, it is extremely rare to find the coin in your change today. Canadians from coast-to-coast-to-coast have a strong connection to Terry's story, and have held on to the coin, saving it in drawers and deposit boxes, or passing it down to their children as a way of sharing this important part of our Canadian history.

    Designed by Senior Mint Engraver Stan Witten, the Terry Fox one-dollar circulation coin features a number of creative elements that pay tribute to the significant obstacles that Terry overcame on his historic run. The slight bend in the trees is an acknowledgement of the fact that Terry chose to run against the wind, from east to west across Canada. The gravel on the road depicts the uneven and varied terrain that he covered, often running on a narrow piece of road with no paved shoulder. The long grass, pine trees, and rock formations featured in the background were chosen to represent the rugged Canadian landscape in general, but particularly Northern Ontario where Terry's journey came to an end. Witten was inspired by the landscape when he visited Thunder Bay on a camping trip with his family in 1996, a meaningful trip that included a visit to the Terry Fox Lookout.

    Terry himself is portrayed as strong and muscular on the coin, wearing his familiar t-shirt and running shoes. Witten enhanced the lettering on Terry's shirt by hand to ensure that it look creased and natural, while still maintaining the legibility of the words “Marathon of Hope” even when reduced on the coin. The one-dollar denomination is also significant: Terry often said that if each Canadian gave just one dollar, it could have an immense impact on cancer research.

    The original design was sculpted in plaster, as was the practice at the  time (Mint engravers have since moved to a 3D sculpting process), and Witten worked with precision on the fine details of the master tool to ensure that the design would be reproduced perfectly once the coin was struck in production. On March 14, 2005, Witten, along with Terry's family and representative from the Mint, unveiled the commemorative coin at Simon Fraser University, near Terry's hometown of Port Coquitlam British Columbia. It was a moment that he will never forget, having followed Terry's journey as a high school student.

    Although he has worked as an engraver at the Mint for more than 25 years, designing the Terry Fox one-dollar circulation coin stands out as a career highlight for Witten. “It's probably the most important project I've worked on in my career at the Mint” he says. “There is something special about designing a circulation coin. It's a working tool, something that every Canadian will hold in their hands, and a way for Canadians to celebrate our culture and accomplishments, and to tell our stories.”

    While Terry's plan to run across Canada was cut short, the momentum of his Marathon of Hope continues, with hundreds of millions raised for cancer research through related initiatives. The Terry Fox one-dollar coin remains a poignant tribute to his legacy, courage and inspiration.

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