Canadian Association of Token Collectors (CATC)


 [CATC Background]  [List of Officers]   [Palmer Literary Award]   [Membership Application]  [Contact the CATC]

[Overview of Collecting Canadian Colonial Tokens]   [Maverick Token Listing]
[Robert Purves Merchant Token]  [Service Checks]  [Taylor Drury Pedlar & Co. Limited] 
[Articles Appearing in the 1999 'Cee Tee'] 

CATC Background

Formed in 1972, the CATC publishes a quarterly bulletin called 'NUMISMATICA CANADA' to its members.  The publication provides detailed information on various aspects of token collecting, from early colonial, through the peak periods of merchant tokens, to modern trade dollars, and as much as possible in between.

Meetings are presently held at annual CNA and ONA conventions. Guests interested in learning about the association and membership are welcome.

Membership in the C.A.T.C. is only $25.00 Canadian per year for regular membership ($25.00 US funds to all addresses outside Canada) or $15.00 per year for digital membership.

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List of Officers

Scott E. Douglas
President Emeritus: 
Harry N. James
Ian Speers
Ian Speers
3280 Bloor St. W. Suite 1140
Toronto, ON M8X 2X3

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The Kenneth A. Palmer Literary Award Winners

2018 - Eric Leighton -
The Great Dry Salt Goods Puzzle which appeared in the December 2017 Numismatica Canada, Volume 16, No. 4, Issue No. 64.
2019 - James Haxby -
Discoveries From The Doug Robins Collection which appeared in the June 2018 Numismatica Canada, Volume 17, No. 2, Issue No. 66.
2020 - Len Buth -
J. R. Ormond Watchmaker - Jeweller Montreal, CE; Peterborough & Port Hope, ON; Winnipeg, MB; Victoria, BC which appeared in the September 2019 Numismatica Canada, Volume 18, No. 3, Issue No. 71.
2021 - Eric Jensen -
Hotel Lethbridge Cigar Stand Token which appeared in the June 2020 Numismatica Canada, Volume 19, No. 2, Issue No. 74.

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Membership Application Form

Membership Form


Click here to download the CATC Membership Application in PDF format. 

You can view and print the application using Adobe Acrobat Reader and then complete the form and mail it with your cheque to the address shown on the form. 

If you do not have Adobe Acrobat Reader, please click the link below to be taken to the Adobe web site to download the software. This software is available free of charge from Adobe.

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Terms of Membership

Regular Membership: Annual dues are $25.00 in Canadian funds for Canadian addresses and
$25.00 in US funds for US and other foreign addresses to cover additional postage costs.

Digital Membership: $15.00 per year or $60.00 for 5 years

Digital Life Membership

Up to 50 years old : $400  *** 51 to 65 years old: $300 *** Over 65 years old: $200
The applicant must have been a member for three consecutive years before being eligible to apply.
Note: this is digital membership only

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Overview of Collecting Canadian Colonial Tokens

During the colonization period of Canada's history there was no official policy by either France (ca. 1670-1760) or England (1760-1830) to provide an expanding economy with any form of uniform currency like that which we take for granted today.  Severe shortages of money for everyday trade were the order of the day.

To illustrate how serious this was one can just look at what passed for money early in Canada's economic development.  During the French Regime the beaver pelt was the first widely accepted means of trade, i.e. our first money.  A crude progression it may seem but wampum was the next step.  Wampum was used as legal tender until 1670 by both whites and native Indians; it's use continued by the Indians into the late 1700's.

Later in the French era playing-card money and jetons made for the colonies partially filled the need.  French Canadian colonial issues include the sol, the livre and the ecu, but here we are primarily interested in the flower of the token issuing period--from about 1813 to the 1890's.

The main classification of types is much the same as for other countries to do so earlier in Europe and the U.S.

  1. issues by merchants, manufacturers, etc. which are usually of good weight for a shown value and have a name or address
  2. similar issues, but with no stated value -- a kind of advertising card accepted at an implicit value in the then prevailing economy; these were sometimes political or commemorative in theme
  3. tokens/medals issued by private individuals -- a modern day business card often meant as gifts to friends or customers e.g. T. Elder pieces in the U.S.
  4. regal & semi-regal pieces ordered or approved by an official government agency here or in England.  This is the area most closely covered in this little paper.
  5. forgeries and evasions

The first Dominion of Canada coins were issued in 1870.  The 1858/59 pieces we think of as Canada's were made for the Province of Canada (the union of Upper and Lower Canada in the 1840's).  The point being that they were not then official in other parts of what later became Canada as a whole.

A basic chronology of colonial token issues starts with Nova Scotia, the first colony to issue regular coinage about 1814.  In 1823 the Nova Scotia Thistle series appeared with George IV as an obverse theme and a Scottish thistle design on the reverse.  These were made in 1824 and 1832 as well.  Remarkably, the 1832 issue still bore the portrait of King GeorgeIV although King William had reigned for two years.  Thistle tokens were ordered by the Nova Scotia government without the approval of the British government; therefore they are semi-regal coinage.  There is a large series of counterfeits of this series which are collected in their own right.

In 1856 Nova Scotia produced a new token which had British approval -- the Mayflower 1/2d. & 1d. regal coinage.  Some numismatic writers have called these the most beautifully designed coinage ever made in Canada.

A similar situation occurred in New Brunswick.  Frigate tokens of 1/2d. &1d. were issued (semi-regal) in 1843, but by 1854 an officially recognized version of the same frigate design was created with the word currency replacing the word token to indicate regal status.  These too rank most highly in the judging of Canada's great designs.

Prince Edward Island is attributed with the second most extensive series of tokens -- the (thought of as common) Ships Colonies & Commerce 1/2d. pieces from the 1830's to about 1860.  Over 50 varieties are listed by Lee's numbers and nice examples of scarcer ones are a challenge to find.  A private P.E.I. issue by James Duncan in 1855 is the first Canadian piece to use the word cent -- the first Canadian decimal.

The most readily available Newfoundland tokens were made by four brothers from England who set up as merchants in St. Johns and Harbour Grace.  These are the Rutherford 1/2d.'s of 1840-1846.

1837 gave rise to the Lower Canada Rebellion and an attractive token design which led to the un sou and Bouquet sous series -- the most extensive of all Cdn. tokens by type.  Many were made in Belleville, N.J.  Another important design type was also issued in 1837 by the political establishment of the rebellion era.  There is a very nice, short collectible series that starts with tokens featuring a French Canadian Habitant on the obverse and the Arms of the City of Montreal on the reverse.  1/2d. & 1d. versions were made by the City Bank, the Quebec Bank, the Banque du Peuple and the Bank of Montreal.

In 1838/39 the Bank of Montreal ordered a new design to replace the 'Habitant'.  These are the scarce side-view tokens -- scarce because the bank official who ordered them rejected them as inferior in quality and returned the issues of both years to the minter in England.  Most were melted.  The phrase side-view is used to describe the three-cornered view of a bank building on the obverse.  Conjecture has it that a lack of detail in trees used in the obverse design caused the rejection.

Upper and Lower Canada merged in 1842 into the Province of Canada and the Bank of Montreal needed a new token.  Thus the third in the series, the Front-view tokens of 1842/45 were born.  Front-view because a two-corner design of the bank building was used.  These were fully accepted and became the largest issue in Canada to that time.  The Quebec Bank issued their own versions of the Habitant in 1852 with a new reverse.  The Bank of Upper Canada followed with the more widely recognized St. George and the dragon 1/2d & 1d. tokens from 1850 to 1857.

Throughout this entire time individual private issues were made, too many to list here.  Molson's made a popular piece; Hudson's Bay Co. issued a diverse, interesting series covering different locations of their outposts; Thomas Church designed and personally struck a long collectible series of commemorative/personal tokens.  As in the U.S. the list of collectibles by topic or issuer is quite daunting to either generalist or specialist.

Canadian token mintages range from less than 100 to the largest issues of up to 500 thousand.  All quite low relative to our experiences in the decimal world.  Yet prices are low, on that same relative basis, because fewer people collect them and a little work is necessary to find and study them -- as with U.S. colonials.  Grading also differs to allow for inferior dies and striking methods.

Collecting this material combines the greater relative scarcity than decimals with a greater variety of designs, themes and origins.  In doing so, a collector not only gains a picture of the evolution of Canadian coinage, but the development of the country itself.

The challenge in token collecting is two-fold -- finding the piece you want can be more difficult than even the scarcer decimals, and the reverse may occur, encountering a token not known to you and trying to attribute it to a time, place and issuer.  Great fun!

Canada is a very young country.  There is more history before Confederation (1867) than since.

If it can be said that Canada came into being as an economic entity in the early 1700's, then while there may be some out there who don't like the analogy, Canada's ancient money is the beaver pelt and wampum; Canada's modern money is our current decimal coinage; leaving the above described tokens as Canada's mediaeval coinage.

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Maverick Token Listing

    CATC member Eric Jensen of Calgary, Alberta  has recently compiled a 100 page listing of Attributed Canadian Maverick Tokens.  This is a great reference and research document which readily establishes if a particular token with no town, city or province named, has been previously identified. This reference is in PDF format and can be easily transferred to any PC desktop, which saves printing.  The document is very user-friendly and names are easily searchable. This is a "live" work-in-progress document that will be updated as any new tokens are identified which fit into the listing.  All maverick tokens that have been attributed are cross-referenced to the source.

    Any CATC member may request this document from  Eric and he will e-mail it to you free of charge.  Eric may be contacted direct at

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Robert Purves Merchant Token, by Doug Patriquin

The Robert purves General Store was located just east of the village of Wallace, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia. Purves was a shipbuilder by trade and built his store next to his shipyard at Wallace. He also had another store at Tatamagouche, N.S. In 1854, the RETRIEVER, the largest ship ever constructed in Wallace, was built at his shipyard. It was a 990 ton full rigged ship, with one deck and three masts. Purves was known to be close with money. In order to make a profit by selling his shipbuilders all the goods they needed, he had a copper token made in 1855, with his name on it, to pay his men. These tokens were redeemable for merchandise at his store and had the following inscription:


Reverse : Encourage/Country/Importers

He left Wallace in the early 1860's and moved to Tatamagouche, where he continued to operate his other store and to build many smaller ships. His store was later torn down and the first steam powered engine to saw lumber for ship construction was set up on the site. When he died in 1872, his widow sold the balance of the remaining tokens, which totalled around 200. Purves was buried in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: The author wishes to acknowledge the assistance of Mr. Francis Grant, Wallace, N.S. and the Cumberland county Museum, Amherst, N.S. for their help in locating material for this article. This article originally published in the "CEE TEE", Volume 13, number 3, May of 1984. An illustration of the token is in the original article.

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Service Checks, by Leslie C. Hill

Is the Service Check an advertising chit, a trade token, or an I.D. tag? There is ample room for divergent views here, however the use to which the disc was put rather than what is stamped on it should provide us with the answer. The Research Committee of the Vancouver Numismatic Society in 1962 discussed such items and was of the opinion that if a token was good for a value or service which would normally cost money, it should be classified as a trade token, even if no value was stamped on it; there would seem to be no valid reason to alter this view today.

With the advent of Prohibition in B.C. near the end of World War I the use of Service checks became popular as a means of getting around some of the stringent regulations relating to the sale of liquors to the public. These were used by many of the returned servicemens clubs, private clubs, and even by some of the hotels which had clubs formed on the premises to make use of space formerly used by their bars or saloons, prior to Prohibition.

Instead of selling liquor to club members, they would be sold a service; this could be for the use of locker space for the storage of the members liquor, for cubicle space behind the bar for the same purpose, for serving the member with drinks from his own bottle, or any number of other services. Laster as Prohibition eased, the Service Checks were used by some clubs as drink tokens, openly. Service Checks could be purchased from the club manager on the premises.

While some of the earlier checks were made of brass, most are met with in aluminum with the club's name on the obverse side, and simply SERVICE or SERVICE/CHECK on the reverse side.

Originally published in the Volume 9, number 2, March 1980 "CEE TEE", the article contained illustrations of two Service Checks.

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Taylor Drury Pedlar & Co. Limited, contributed by D.M. Stewart

A brief history of this well known Yukon trading company was published in the C.N.A. JOURNAL of March, 1967. The article recorded how Messrs Taylor and Drury met while en route to the Klondike but learned of a gold rush at Atlin, B.C. and opened a business there. In opposition to them were Whitney and Pedlar. Both firms moved to Lake Bennett during the construction of the White Pass and Yukon Railway to do business with the temporary population of 10,000 at Bennett City. In July, 1900 they took the first through train to Whitehorse the terminal and soon both firms were doing business there.

They remained in opposition until 1912 when Taylor Drury Pedlar & Co. Limited was incorporated. Using the steam-powered "kluahne" on the Yukon river system the company opened and supplied trading posts at 18 locations, although no more than 12 were in operation at any one time. Tokens were used at these posts in order to avoid the need to hold large sums of money at each one. Acceptance of the tokens was so great that the native people hesitated to accept "steamboat" money from people travelling on the boat. While the name was changed to Taylor & Drury Limited in 1921, the tokens remained in use in some posts as late as the 1940's.

While these tokens have been long sought by collectors, we were aware of an overhang in the possession of the families and have wondered what might come of this remainder. The question has now been resolved with the purchase of all of these tokens by D.M. Stewart of Victoria, B.C. There were 33 of the $5.00 tokens which limits the number of sets available. The brass tokens in denominations of $5.00, $10.00, and $20.00 are in good condition but the aluminum 25c, 50c and $1.00 tokens are worn, holed, bitten and generally in poor condition.

The article, originally published in the "CEE TEE" in Volume 14, number 6. November, 1985 stated from whom tokens could be purchased. Photos of the business in Whitehorse, taken this year, (1999), will be published in the December issue of the "CEE TEE".

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Some of the articles appearing in the 2002 'Numismatica Canada' (formerly the 'CeeTee')

Background to the Banque Du Peuple Br. 715 ... by W. Jacobs ...........
Nova Scotia's 1856 Mintage Figures ........... by E. Leighton .........
Two New Canadian Police Medals ............... by J. Boddington .......
Store Tokens of Hickson, Ontario ............. by H. James ............
Richard Irving Creelman (1852-1932) .......... by Scott E. Douglas ....
Some Saanich, B.C. Dairies ................... by R. Greene ...........
More on the Fake Nor'wester .................. by G. Brunk ............
No Will?! No Way!! ........................... by Scott E. Douglas ....
Unreported Dairy & Bakery Tokens ............. by C. Faulkner .........

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Contact the CATC

For further information about the CATC, please contact us at:

Canadian Association of Token Collectors
Ian Spears Secretary-Treasurer
3280 Bloor St. W. Suite 1140
Toronto, ON M8X 2X3

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