Flin Flon is an isolated mining town in Northern Manitoba, approximately a six hour drive north of Winnipeg. It takes its fame from the name Flin Flon, which is a shortened version of Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin. The people are prideful for being the only Canadian town named after a character from a science fiction novel.
The town was founded in 1927, like most Northern Manitoba towns based exclusively on mining precious metals. The most common precious metal of Manitoba is nickel. The town lives and dies on copper. So far, it hasn’t died.
Other northern Manitoba towns have not been so lucky. Leaf Rapids and Lynn Lake are two fascinating stories of company towns that were once flourishing but are now in such terrible condition that firefighters have resorted to burning down homes that have been abandoned. Want some cheap real estate? Check those two towns out. You can get a mortgage for $4 a month!
The company of the city is the Hudson’s Bay Mining and Smelting Company. Their history is worth tackling on another topic altogether.
The token issued for the community is known as a Municipal Trade Token. It was issued in 2004 to great acclaim. When I lived in Northern Manitoba (Norway House) I had the pleasure of acquiring my example and was quite pleased to find out that these circulated regularly, being a matter of pride for residents. Of course, many were saved as souvenirs.
Towns make money from municipal trade tokens with the hope that the majority issued will be kept as souvenirs or exit circulation selling to collectors. The town profit in this case, $3 each time one of these is exchanged and exits circulation, minus their production costs.
The majority of the tokens though are meant to take the place of regular circulating money in the community. Municipal trade tokens are a wonderful way for money to stay in the municipality, rather than make its way out to multinational corporations or bigger cities surrounding it. They are remitted for the face value on the coin by most vendors in the community.
The municipality also strikes an expiration date on the coin, usually only one year after issue. If coin holders do not remit the coins before this time they lose their circulating value.
This trade token is a copper-zinc $3.00 denomination which has been plated in gold. According to the City of Flin Flon only 50 of the gold plated issues were minted. The obverse features Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin in his classic prospector pose. The reverse features a miner working underground. I would be curious to find out who that miner is modeled after as it is used on numerous pin and lapel designs for over 30 years.
It has been more than 10 years since the release of this beautiful token and Flin Flon as a city is going strong. Home values remain high and residents remain happy to live in an isolated and severely cold community, with all of the modern amenities of most southern cities. We can only hope that they release another token in the future.