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This is the first coin in a low mintage high quality pure gold series of Great Explorers of Canada. While John Cabot reached Newfoundland in 1497, and Jacques Cartier and Samuel de Champlain are credited with much of the early exploration of Canada, Leif Eriksson and other Vikings were actually the first Europeans to arrive on our shores, close to 500 years earlier.
This coin features a Viking ship and Canada's first European explorers arriving on the shores of what was then called Vinland—a broad region encompassing Newfoundland, Labrador, and parts of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, where the early Vikings found grapes growing wild.
The first Europeans to explore the New World were known most infamously as brutal warriors, and only more recently as great explorers. The Vikings were seafaring Norse explorers whose great expansion spanned from the eighth century to the eleventh. Over the course of three hundred years, they would explore and build settlements across northern Europe, Great Britain, Ireland, Greenland, Iceland, and the East Coast of Canada.
The Vikings' characterization as brutal warriors probably has its roots in early attacks on the British and Irish coasts. The Norsemen's nimble Long Ships-war galleys paddled by dozens of men-were ideal for performing lightning-fast raids on unsuspecting vessels and coastal villages. The Norsemen who went to Iceland, Greenland, and North America, however, were generally farmers, tradespeople, and explorers travelling by knarr (merchant ships) and seeking natural resources.
• Mintage just 3,000
• GST/HST Exempt
• Royal Canadian Mint 2012 "The Vikings" Great Explorers of Canada $200 Pure Gold Coin