Jazz great Oscar Peterson on Canadian coin


02 November 2022
The Royal Canadian Mint recently honoured jazz musician Oscar Peterson on a $1 commemorative circulation coin. 

The Oscar Peterson commemorative circulation coin was designed by artist Valentine De Landro, a comic book artist, illustrator, and designer from Ajax, Ontario. His design features Oscar Peterson at the piano, with his hands in full motion, from which emerges a flowing musical scale showing two closing bars of his famous Hymn to Freedom. The musician’s name completes the design.

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Called ‘the man with four hands’ by jazz great and admirer Louis Armstrong, Oscar Peterson rose to the top of the music world through more than six decades of electrifying piano performances and unforgettable compositions such as Hymn to Freedom, Blues Etude and The Canadiana Suite.

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Marie Lemay, President and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint, said: ‘The Mint is passionate about celebrating stories of exceptional Canadians on its coins and I am delighted that Oscar Peterson, the first Canadian musician to appear on a circulation coin, is being celebrated as one of the world’s most respected and influential jazz artists of all time. Mr. Peterson’s music and legendary performances have brought joy to millions of music lovers in Canada and around the world and we are proud to honour him, through this coin, for his exceptional contributions to Canadian music and culture.’

The Oscar Peterson circulation coin is limited to a mintage of three million coins, of which two million feature a purple accent, Oscar Peterson’s favourite colour. It will reach Canadians through their change as bank branches and businesses replenish their inventories of $1 circulation coins.

Oscar Peterson’s work has inspired countless artists and still attracts new generations to his music and craft. Numerous music schools and scholarships have been founded in his honour. Peterson died in 2007 at the age of 82.