Established in 1908 to produce Canada's circulation coins, the Royal Canadian Mint is the oldest and one of the largest gold refineries in the Western Hemisphere. The mint also enjoys an excellent reputation around the world for producing high-quality coins. Since 1976, this facility has concentrated on producing numismatic (commemorative) coins. As you might expect, security is exceptionally high; double gates and watchful guards ensure that nothing valuable leaves the building. When you enter the stone "castle," you find yourself in a foyer with a set of stairs leading upward on your left and an elevator straight ahead. Both will take you to the boutique, which displays the many coins and souvenirs available for purchase in well-lit glass showcases around the room. When it's time for the tour, you're ushered into a small theater to watch a short film on a selected aspect of the mint's activities. Next your guide accompanies you to the viewing gallery, which winds its way through the factory. There is a lot to see here, and the tour guide outlines the process of manufacturing coins as you move along the corridor above the factory floor. The process is fascinating, from the rollers that transform the cast bars into flattened strips, to tubs of blanks that have been punched from the strips, to workers hand-drying the blanks after washing, right to the final inspection and hand packaging of the finished coins.