On January 2, 1908, Governor General Earl Grey activated the press to strike the Dominion's first domestically produced coin, a fifty-cent piece. As an audience of dignitaries looked on, the Countess Grey closed the ceremony by striking Canada's first bronze cent. The Ottawa branch of Britain's Royal Mint was officially open for business.
In 1931, the heritage building on Sussex Drive, the surrounding land and the entire minting enterprise passed into Canadian hands, making the Mint a wholly Canadian institution.
The creation of the Royal Mint coincided with an era of burgeoning gold production in the Yukon and British Columbia. A refinery was needed to perform the complex work of bringing rough gold up to coinage standards.
The Canadian Mint's original refinery was completed in 1911. It rendered distinguished service to the British Empire throughout the Great War, producing the large quantities of gold bars with which Britain paid its debts to other countries.
A new refinery facility, designed to meet any possible demand for many years to come, was built in 1936 to refine gold for mines and central banks throughout the world. Still in operation today, the refinery has produced 9999 fine gold bars since 1969. In 1982, it became the world's first refinery to produce 9999 fine gold bullion coins. Then in 1999, the Mint excelled again by being the first to achieve 99999 fine gold purity.
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