Friday Two Cents: Ottawa Trip Part 3 – The Royal Canadian Mint


 

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If this trip to Ottawa had a golden moment I would have to say that my visit to the Royal Canadian Mint would fit the bill. If you are not familiar with the Royal Canadian Mint they produce the coinage for Canada, but that is only one aspect of what they do. There are three locations that the mint maintains, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Ottawa. The one in Winnipeg produces the circulation coins for Canada, while the facility in Ottawa is responsible for the mint quality coins and the bullion investment coins, or coins made from silver, gold and platinum.

The Royal Canadian Mint

I was able to go for a tour of the Ottawa site but you cannot take pictures inside because even though the outside looks like a castle, inside it is a working factory. There they showed us the process of transforming bricks of gold, silver and platinum into the investment and collector coins. They have a forge that melts the metal, presses that cut, weight, inspect and stamp the coins. It was a very informative tour and an impressive process.

Yet I also learned a lot about the mint that I had not known before. I found out that the mint also produces coins for other countries. They estimated that they have produced coins for over 60 countries. Not only coins but the mint also created the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympics and the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Para Pan Am Medals. They had examples of the Olympic medals on display and I learned that each medal has a part of a larger image. If you place all the medals beside each other they create an aboriginal artwork of an orca and the Paralympic medals of a raven. Not only that but the medal are in a wavy shape to represent the mountain range in British Columbia. Inspiring!

Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Medals

Vancouver 2010 Winter Paralympic Medals

 

Orca (Left) and Raven (Right) Designs

 

They also told us about their purity of the gold. Most gold in the world is pure to 99.99 (99.99%) or four 9s. But the Royal Canadian Mint can get a purity of five 9s or 99.999. They showed us the largest, purest gold coin in the world. It has a face value of $1,000,000 CAD. The Australians have a larger gold coin but theirs’ is only 99.99 pure. The Canadian coin is 99.999 pure. They said they made only 5 coins and people and companies have bought them. But because they are also collectors’ coins their value has gone up to be worth about $2.1 million and it keeps going up in value. One of the owners is a billionaire from Saudi Arabia. They say he uses is as a coffee table. Must be nice to have money eh.

Million Dollar Coin

After the tour I was even able to lift a bar of gold. Mind you it was chained to the platform and a security guard was right beside it. If you ever get a chance to lift a bar of gold, try it. The first thing that I noticed was that the gold was soft to the touch like lead or hard clay but metallic. Also it was extremely heavy. One bar of gold weights 28 pounds and with the price of gold I was holding about $675,000 CAD or $500,000 US in my hands. I can now say that I have held over a half a million dollars in my hands, WWWOOO what a rush. Gold rush, that is. 😉

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Gold I love Gold!!! Over a half a Million dollars in my hands.

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Friday Two Cents: Pan Am Games With George: Part 4 Follow-up


 

twoCentsOldNew_George

Well I made it to the Pan Am gold medal game for woman’s football between Brazil and Columbia in one piece and I returned. As mentioned before I anticipated a lot of traffic so I left early and I was not wrong, but it wasn’t too bad.

The worst part of the drive to Hamilton was leaving home and getting onto the highway. You see I leave near High Park and they had a Bike Road race event on that day. They closed off High Park and the surrounding streets for the event. I knew about these closures from all the signs in the area, therefore that is why I left a bit early. It took me a while but I eventually made it onto the highway. There were a few slowdowns on the highway but nothing more that what I expected.

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Road Race at High Park

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Road Race at High Park

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Arriving at the Stadium

I drive into Hamilton and I had to go to McMaster University for the parking that I arranged. Getting in was fine and they also had shuttle buses for people to the event. They were school buses, which are fine but on a hot day, and you may know that they are very bouncy when going over bumps. Yet I arrived well in advance to the game and enjoyed walking around the new facilities.

The game itself was very one sided with the Brazilian women taking an early lead at the 7’ mark and then dominating the game after that. There were a few intense moments with yellow cards issued and one scary moment when a Brazilian player crashed into the Columbian keeper. They were both down for quite a while but the keeper did get up from it and continued until the half. Though the backup keeper replaced her at the start of the second half.

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In The nosebleeds

The Columbians were not that active in the second half either. They were being out played and the Brazilians were just too skilled for them. In the end they gave up a second goal and then the wheels fell of the cart, so to speak. The Columbians then gave up two more goals on easy save opportunities, hence the Brazilians won 4 – 0 and captured the gold medal.

The medal ceremony was something that I wanted to see and to my surprise many people left before the game officially ended. The other surprise was that the Premier on Ontario, Kathleen Wynne handed out the medals to the athletes. After the ceremony I made my way back to the shuttle buses and my car and home.

Overall I have to say I really enjoyed my experience. The drive to Hamilton, the venue, the game and the ceremony were experiences I will not forget.   The experience was something I wanted to do, to see the game but also to observe the reactions of the people within the stadium. Of course many were there to support the two teams, but many, like myself had no allegiance to either team and just wanted to enjoy the game. I even had the opportunity to talk to different people about the game and other things surrounding the games. I guess its true about people wanting and craving shared experiences.

Friday Two Cents: Toronto Pan Am Games


 

twoCentsOldNew_George

When I heard that Toronto got the Pan Am Games I was one of those people who did not celebrate. I thought it a complete waste of taxpayers’ money and I had no faith in the government institutions to organize and run an athletic competition of this size. In addition when things where suppose to be moving along and getting things done, the infighting amongst the different levels of governments reaffirmed my feelings. Reports of money mismanagement and governments spending taxpayers’ money like there was no tomorrow came out.

 

How Pan Am staff used your tax dollars

Pan Am Perks Aplenty For Officials 

 

Yet after reading all the news about the games and seeing how people, especially the students were looking forward to the games I thought I would keep and open mind. I still had my doubts but I told myself a long time ago that I would not be like many people and judge something of someone before I give it or them a chance.

HOV Lanes First Day of the Toronto Pan AM Games. The Toronto Star 06/29/2015

However, before the games began, it did not start off on a good foot. The government introduced these High Occupancy Vehicle lines on the highways (HOV Lanes) and traffic became heavier not better. Even during the games started I was driving on the highways and I would only see a handful of vehicles using the HOV lanes. If they think that turning 3 lanes of traffic into 2 and one HOV lane is an improvement, then I think that the psychiatric ward is missing a few patients.

Then from the beginning I was not impressed with much of the opening ceremonies. Yet I did see a bit of it on TV but it got boring so I left the room and did some other work. Mind you I did watch the fireworks at the end and thought that it was impressive.

After I waited for the ball to drop and see the chaos, thankfully it did not. I must say that over the past 13 days the events have gone off well and the chaos of traffic headaches did not happen. Yes there were times I could not drive on specific roads because of an event but it was well planned out and the detours were good. Mind you I know the city pretty well and I can navigate the roads at will, but it was not the nightmare that many had predicted.

The one thing that has been a big disappointment is the television coverage of the games by the CBC. In comparison the Vancouver Winter Olympic games aired by CTV, the word that comes to mind is frustrating. I tried looking but I cannot find what or when specific events are being aired. Therefore I decided to indulge in going to an event. I am planning to go to the gold medal game for women’s football (soccer) on Saturday. I was surprised to see that the tickets were not that expensive. $40 CDN for seats, I’ll have to see how good they are when I go to the event tomorrow.

Overall, to be honest, I have to say that the Toronto Pan Am Games 2015 have been a good experience for the city. I for one was very skeptical with the organization and the bureaucracy involved. My many years of working in the system have taught me to be very pessimistic when it comes to the government. Yet I would imagine that when push comes to shove, people will come together for the common good.

Well tomorrow I am looking forward to the gold medal game for women’s football (soccer). There are specific parking areas with shuttle bus service available.   Canada is not playing but I am looking forward to seeing the women’s teams from Columbia and Brazil play. I plan to take a lot of pictures and hopefully even George will be coming along.

Hey! I did say I would be taking him along wherever I go this summer. Didn’t I? I’ll let you all know how it went tomorrow.

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George with tickets to the Pan Am 2015 Gold Medal Game Women’s Football Brazil vs Columbia.

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