N.B. veteran first Canadian to receive coin commemorating 75th anniversary of D-Day
The Royal Canadian Mint has just released a new $2 coin in honour of the 75th anniversary of D-Day, and a New Brunswick veteran was the first Canadian to receive it.
The coin was unveiled Monday at the Moncton Garrison -- home to the 37 Brigade of the North Shore Regiment, whose troops were among the 13 Canadian regiments landing at Juno Beach in Normany, France, on June 6, 1944.
Soldiers past and present gathered Monday to witness the unveiling.
“A coin is forever, so it’s a perfect way to honour that,” said Alex Reeves of the Royal Canadian Mint. “With the launch of the D-Day circulation coin, we’re commemorating one of the greatest moments in military and world history.”
“These guys, they’ve done so much for the country,” said Lt.-Col. Renald DeFour of the North Shore Regiment. “We need to do the right thing for them, and adding the $2 that we have today, it’s going to be a little token of appreciation that’s population-wide.”
Designed by Canadian artist Alan Daniel, the coin shows three soldiers peering from their landing craft as they approach Juno Beach. On the outer ring, engravings of ships and aircraft illustrate the massive air and naval operation which supported the troops.
Second World War veteran Alphonse Vautour was the first Canadian to receive the coin.
At 22 years old, Vautour was one of many New Brunswickers who stormed Juno Beach 75 years ago, saying he felt it was his duty to serve.
“I was at war. It seemed to me I was not scared,” he said. “It was time to go.”
Vautour says he still remembers June 6, 1944 like it was yesterday.
“It’s something you never forget,” said the 99-year-old veteran. “You go to bed at night and two, three o’clock in the morning you wake up, it’s on your mind.”
Three million coins will be in circulation to the public, two million of which will feature colour.
“We’re kind of mixing it up a little,” said Reeves. “It used to be in the past that the coloured coins were the more rare ones but we’ve switched it up this year, and it just makes collecting a little more exciting, and it certainly adds more variety to the coins that are out there.”
The Royal Canadian Mint says the public should see the coins gradually appear in their change as bank branches and businesses begin replenishing inventories of $2 coins.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Eilish Bonang