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Activities with kids: Touring the Mint

by Lara We've been so excited by the giveaways we've been having for Mint Tours I decided to go on a tour myself* and brought Kiernan and my friend's son Joel along with me.

We headed over to the Mint (located at 320 Sussex Drive) on an afternoon of  PD day this past Friday (I booked my tour ahead of time (you don't have to, but I'm told it's better)  by calling (613) 993-8990.) and parked at the National Gallery (the Mint has no parking but the Gallery and ByWard Market are both right next door.)

You can only enter the production area on a guided tour and no photos are allowed when on the tour. You check in at the front gate with the security guard - which feels very official and very important.

We were escorted to the gift shop where we waited for our tour guide to begin the tour.  Once we began we walked through all the different areas of coin production, learning many interesting facts like:

- the Mint in Ottawa only produces investment and collector coins, all circulation coins are produced in their other plant in Winnipeg

- Collector coins often have a face value significantly lower than their actual worth, to prevent them from being used as circulation coins.

- Mint condition means a coin has never been touched by human hands. If a coin gets touched by human hands, they have to melt the coin down and start over.

- The Canadian Mint produces coins for a ton of other countries because our system is one of the most cost effective/best in the world.

I took two five year olds with me. They were definitely on the lower end of the age range that would be appropriate for this tour but also both really enjoyed finding out more about the production of coins and had a ton of questions for our tour guide.

When asked by our guide what they would do with a 100kg solid gold coin my son responded "buy a REALLY big piggy bank for it". ha! :)

When the tour was completed the three of us sat down to peruse the Mint's coin catalogue.  Unfortunately many of the coins in the catalogue were sold out but both boys were thrilled to start a new coin collection with a sasquatch coin*.

We then all tried to lift gold bar - I barely got it in the air (under the watchful eye of the security guard and the chain attached to it)

As we headed out of the building we found a few more photo opportunities.

Overall, the mint was a really interesting and fun time and I highly recommend it for kids 5 and older. (To give you a sense on time commitment : the tour lasted about 45 minutes and the boys kept me occupied in the gift shop for about a half hour after the tour was done)

Inspiring kids to learn about history and coins seems like a win win to me!  Have you ever been to the Mint?

*Full disclosure. I did not have to pay to take the tour. All gift shop purchases were paid for in full ;)

BONUS GIVEAWAY: Two more passes to tour the mint.  Tell us if you ever had a coin collection as a kid and you'll be entered to win. Contest closes December 28 at 5pm. One entry per family.

Other option to enter. Tweet:

I’d love to win a family pass to the @canadianmint from #kidsinthecapital this holiday season! http://www.kidsinthecapital.ca/?p=6655

Good luck!