Dumpdiggers with metal detectors sometimes find small coins in strange places. This copper token was unearthed behind a church in Uxbridge Ontario.
The artifact is identified as Broke,
Over 193 years old, this copper token precedes almost all other formal currencies in the Dominion of Canada. Indeed it was minted in response to a critical lack of species in the Atlantic region. It's interesting to note that this relic was not issued by a reigning monarch, or by the British Navy, but rather a consortium of enterprising merchants who hoped to increase commerce in the Port of Halifax. Dry goods importers, leather harness makers, clothiers and ironmongeries all had a vested interest in the local economy, and the largest of these enterprises may have combined forces to commission, distribute and honour the tokens.
When the HMS Shannon sailed into Halifax harbour on June 6th 1813 with the 38 gun warship USS Chesapeake in tow, it was a proud moment for every sailor in the British Navy. History records that this American prize was sold in Halifax in 1814 to agents of the Royal Navy, and Captain Broke and his crew received handsome bonuses.
Broke copper tokens appeared later that summer at the behest of unknown merchants. The designers chose to remember proud Captain Broke on the front of the token, and used Britannia to remind every colonist of the might of the British Empire. Minted in Nova Scotia in 1814, the token had little value by 1820, and was completely worthless by 1825.
Sir Philip Bowes Vere Broke was born on
Our man Philip chose the navy, and was placed in the
Philip Bowes Vere Broke was promoted to Commander in 1799, and became a Captain in 1801; but he didn’t get his own ship until 1806 - that was the year Broke took command of the HMS Shannon, a 38 gun frigate.
Six years later, Captain Broke was stationed in
After issuing the captain of the American warship a formal challenge (which arrived too late), the two ships engaged in single combat. The result was spectacular - Captain Broke of the HMS Shannon captured the USS Chesapeake after less than twenty minutes of naval combat. The American
It was a brilliant action - single ship combats are the stuff of legends. Bad news for Captain Broke however, he was seriously injured in the battle. He received a nasty head wound while commanding the boarding party in a head on assault of the Chesapeake's forecastle- some folks say he was never the same after the engagement. His career was set however and he sailed to prominence as a rear admiral without ever setting foot on ship again.