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Richmond brothers finalists in Canadian mint's design contest

Grandpa said to be inspiration behind creative flair
Coin competition
Hsia brothers, Timothy, left, and Stephen are dedicating their finalist slots in the Royal Canadian Mint’s national coin design contest to the memory of their ‘hero,’ their late grandfather, Philip. Photo by Alan Campbell/Richmond News

The motivations behind Timothy and Stephen Hsia’s entry into the Royal Canadian Mint’s national coin design contest are many.

The Richmond brothers — Timothy, 30, a family doctor at Aberdeen Health Centre, and Stephen, 29, a commercial litigation lawyer — were inspired by the Northern Lights and Canadian nature respectively with their innovative designs, which have earned them each a one-in-five chance of national fame out of 10,000 hopefuls.

But it is the memory of the pair’s late grandfather, Philip Hsia, who would have been 100 in two years’ time, that is the real inspiration behind the brothers’ success, not only in becoming finalists in the mint’s public voting contest, but in life, in general.

“Our grandpa was our hero,” said Stephen. “He grew up in poverty and ran away from home at age 11 with nothing but three coins that his mother entrusted with him. 

“Over his lifetime, he excelled academically, qualified for the Olympics in track and field, flew bombers in the Second World War with the Flying Tigers, and became a successful businessman in Hong Kong. 

In 1968, their grandfather immigrated to Richmond, which he called home until his death in 2010, before which he was a strong advocate about giving back to the community and could be seen jogging around the Minoru track in the early mornings.

“When Tim and I were growing up, Grandpa was an avid coin collector and would give each of his grandchildren a gold coin on their birthdays,” said Stephen.

“We appreciated the gesture and over time realized that Grandpa had effectively made us coin collectors ourselves. We were inspired by the beautiful designs of Grandpa’s coins and we dedicate our coin designs to him.”

Both Tim and Stephen, Princeton University graduates, who live at home with their parents near Steveston Highway and Gilbert Road, are avid amateur artists and designers in their free time and have been drawing and sketching as long as they can remember.

This is the first time, however, they’ve entered a competition such as the national mint’s, which is being run to find the design for a commemorative coin to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017.

Timothy’s “Dance of the Spirits” entry is one of five finalists in the “Our Wonders” category, while Stephen’s “Confederation Bouquet” has a great chance in the “Our Character” division.

And with the general 150th theme in mind, Stephen’s design incorporates the official flowers of the nation’s 13 provinces and territories.

“Having travelled across Canada, just about every province has its official flower everywhere to see,” said Stephen.

“And I wanted something that would resonate with as many Canadians as possible.”

The News recently featured Adrian Chan, 6, — also a finalist in the “Our Future” category, with his “Whale Plane” design.

You can vote for the brothers’ and Adrian’s entries at Voting started on Sept. 1 and ends on Oct. 9.