Broken Coins and Paper Promises

24 July - 13 December 2009

Once the thriving hub of the transatlantic cod fishery and later destroyed by marauding troops, Ferryland is now the site of one of Canada’s most historic and prolific archaeological digs. More than one million artifacts have been found, including a large variety of coins and the Kirke token - the earliest piece of money made for use in Canada.

The story of Ferryland, deserving of a Hollywood production, serves as a backdrop to the monetary history of 17th century Newfoundland.

- Paul Berry, Chief Curator of the Museum

Broken Coins and Paper Promises explored the various functions of money and also illustrated what could happen in the absence of a central issuing authority like the Bank of Canada. Showcasing artifacts from Ferryland, together with pieces from the Museum’s National Currency Collection, the exhibit used fascinating images and an innovative short film to guide visitors through the colony’s history.

Photo Gallery


Ferryland was first colonized by Europeans in the middle of the 16th century and had been visited by Sir Walter Raleigh.

Pot sherds

Artifacts from the National Currency Collection were displayed alongside archaeological finds from this historically wealthy site.

Exhibition cases

The earliest coin minted for use in Canada so far discovered is among the numismatic artifacts of this exhibition.

Exhibition cases

Supplementary information on the artifacts is reproduced on pamphlets attached to the display cases.

Man speaking

Exhibition opening event in front of the Currency Museum in the Bank’s Garden Court.

Museum panels

Beautiful panels evoked the maps and illustrations of the Elizabethan era.

30 Bank Street
Ottawa, ON