By The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Mint is releasing a limited-edition $20 coin to commemorate the unusual story of a Manitoba man’s close encounter with a flying saucer UFO.
The one-ounce silver coin being released Tuesday immortalizes Stefan Michalak’s experience in Whiteshell Provincial Park, east of Winnipeg, more than 50 years ago.
Michalak said he suffered burns when he came across an unidentified flying object in what became known as the Falcon Lake incident in May 1967.
The coin carries the standard engraving of the Queen on one side and on the other displays a full-colour depiction of Michalak falling to the ground, with a forest and lake behind him, while a flying saucer hovers above him.
Like the story, the coin is unusual because it’s oval-shaped and comes with a black light flashlight which the mint says gives the reverse side an otherworldly glow.
Only 4,000 coins will be produced and will come with a retail price of $129.95.
Stan Michalak, Stefan’s son, calls the coin “a super honour.”
“I feel very privileged they’re doing it. If my dad was still around, he would be floored,” he said. “And if my mother was still here, she would say everything has a reason. Everything is connected. You do something here and there will be repercussions.”
Although Winnipeg is home to Canada’s main mint, which produces regular circulation coins, the Falcon Lake coin was produced at the one in Ottawa, which creates special commemorative pieces.
Erica Maga, the mint’s product manager, said special dies needed to be cast to create the ovoid-shaped blanks for the coins, so more time was needed to produce these compared to the ones in people’s pockets.
“We can only make a couple of hundred coins per shift. A lot of hands go into something like this,” she said.
Jasmine Allen, manager of Gatewest Coin in Winnipeg, cautioned that buying the piece doesn’t necessarily mean its value will increase.
“The new stuff the mint produces is really hit or miss,” said Allen. “When people are buying mint products, we recommend you have it because you enjoy it and not as an investment.”