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Rediscover Canada’s national tree

Canadians love the maple leaf: it’s on our nation’s flag, coat of arms, banknotes and many of our coins. It is universally understood to be a symbol of Canada and everything Canadian, but surprisingly, the tree that produces that leaf only became an official Canadian emblem in 1996.

This year (2021) marks the 25th anniversary of the Proclamation Designating the Maple Tree as National Arboreal Emblem of Canada (SI/96-36). And while the anniversary falls on April 25, 2021, this is something we’ll be celebrating throughout the year with our 2021 Arboreal Anniversary Collection of maple-themed coins that stand out from the rest, thanks to their enhanced features and low mintages.

These are the maple leaf collectibles to get in 2021. Each coin in this extraordinary collection honours Canada’s national tree by pairing a maple leaf design with a “25” privy mark. This special anniversary logo also appears on the accompanying certificate of authenticity, which includes a touch of “leafy” green colour to mark the occasion.

The coin that kicks off our celebration features the most famous of all Canadian maple species, the sugar maple or Acer saccharum, which dazzles on the dual-plated 2021 Maple Leaf in Motion coin. It’s a fitting choice as our first maple “star” because its tree famously yields the sweet sap that is Canada’s gift to breakfast tables around the world. But it is also associated with one of the most common misconceptions about Canada’s national tree – read on to learn more!

True or False: The sugar maple is the arboreal emblem of Canada

It’s partly true: the sugar maple is one of the maple species that represent Canada, but it’s not the only one.

The proclamation officially designated “the maple tree (genus Acer) as national arboreal emblem of Canada,” so our national tree is more of a group than one specific kind.

However, the proclamation also specifies that, “the maple tree (genus Acer) has ten species native to Canada,” and that’s where the sugar maple comes in… along with silver, black, bigleaf, red, mountain, striped, Douglas, vine and Manitoba maples.

Together, these 10 species collectively represent Canada, and at least one of these Canadian maple species occurs naturally in each of our 10 provinces. How’s that for diversity?


Why an arboreal emblem?

The choice of the maple as our national tree isn’t surprising given our strong attachment to its leaf. But there are more practical reasons for its selection, as outlined in the proclamation:

Whereas the maple leaf is recognized nationally and internationally as representing Canada and Canadians, as a symbol of our natural heritage and national identity;

And Whereas the maple tree has played a meaningful role in the historical development of Canada, first as discovered and utilized by the First Nations, later contributing to the lifestyles and economy of the European settlers, and more recently for its commercial, environmental and aesthetic importance to all Canadians;

And Whereas the maple tree is an important and environmentally sustainable source of economic activity…

So there you have it: the maple’s designation as the arboreal emblem of Canada is a formal recognition of its contributions to this nation’s development, identity and industries. This is important because, technically, the maple leaf is the popular Canadian emblem but not an official one – not on its own, anyway. Its only official status comes from being a key element of our national flag, coat of arms, uniforms, badges and more.

Of course, Canada isn’t the only country to have a national arboreal emblem: there’s the banyan tree of India, the cedar tree on Lebanon’s flag and the oak tree that was designated the National Tree of the United States in 2004, to name a few. And, except for Nunavut, each province and territory has its own unique arboreal emblem that is a living symbol of its people.

But Acer is the tree that stands tall as the proud symbol for all Canadians. That’s why its anniversary in 2021 is worthy of the lavish celebration that is our 2021 Arboreal Anniversary Collection, which invites you to mark the occasion with the perfect maple leaf addition to your collection.

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