Before1858 truly Canadian Coins did not exist. The various Canadian provinces all had their own tokens which circulated as money in their region and many circulated outside those regions as well. In addition there was a mixture of French, English, Spanish and some new coinage from the new USA.
In 1857 the Canadian government decided to put the newly approved coinage on a par with that of the USA before starting to produce its own coins in one, five, ten, and twenty cent sizes. Although the exchange rate lasted many years today because of the various countries international money float the currency is no longer traded at par with the US coinage or currency.
Both US gold and British gold along with nuggets and gold dust and beaver pelts were also used for trading.
Unlike the USA who produced silver coins with a fineness of 900 the Canadians chose to follow the British Standard of 925 or sterling silver. However in 1920 Canada reduced its silver content in its Canadian coins to 800 fine and again in 1967 when if reduced to 500 fine until 1968 when it was completely taken out of the coin metals being used.
As the various provinces joined in the confederation they gave up producing their own coinages. Today these provincial coins produced in gold, silver, and copper are very collectable and for Canadians those coin which circulated in Canada before they were able to have their own coins are also very collectable.
In the beginning the Canadians manufactured their coins at one of 3 mints operating in England. In addition tokens were produced in the United Kingdom in sizes of the British coins used both as store cards and circulating as non official money.
Besides Canadians, the Americans are the next largest group of collectors of coins from this region.