Eulogy for the Canadian Penny (1858-2013)

The Eulogy

 Dear Canada and Friends,

Many of us struggle with mixed emotions before the face of extinction. Extinction brought through the decision to rid the life of the one-cent piece.

For a large number, their appreciation has slowly given way to indifference over the years. For many others, an almost romantic connection to the coin fosters sadness and nostalgia at the abolition of the little cent.

For those of us who considered the penny as a friend in addition to a currency, commerce derides the sentiments of our hearts.

It was my honour to research the legacy of the humble copper coin, to be associated with its robust heritage, to trace its path from inception to demise. I have been privileged to share its richness in the lives of the older generations, to learn how it mushroomed into ever-expanding uses and pastimes. I have been inspired to capture the memories, the joys, and meanings of its possession.

I have seen the penny erode in value, heard debates and arguments in support and in rejection, among friends and with strangers. Now today, February 4, 2013, the shiny copper, the only denomination of its colour, will be taken from us, never to be distributed again.

Many will fondly pay tribute to the penny as the workhorse of the currency system, a tribute born out of the recognition of the coin as the foundation for all money used in public service. Recognition that specific numbers of one cent pieces form the larger monetary denominations.

Many others will measure the price of its metallic composition: copper, zinc, steel, those changes driven by public accountability for profit. They have labelled it an inconvenience and a nuisance. They have judged it by its weight and unwieldiness, as useless at best. Or as a waste of time when counted at tills, or being rolled and processed.

For me, however, it is more pleasant and desirable to recall the penny during this time of its phasing out, as an ambassador serving its beloved Canada. Though lowly and humble, it was exalted in the wallets and purses of Prime Ministers, dignitaries, kings and queens. It travelled to other lands, where it was touched and examined with curiosity and interest.

What a precious treasure the penny is now and will be forever in the memories of many persons in this country. Who will choose to not forget those childlike respites provided with the purchase of a penny? (continued in Chapter 16, The Eulogy, Little Copper Pennies by Susan Harris ISBN 978146020489. Messages of condolence can be left below.)

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