He was 102.
His son, journalist Andrew Coyne, confirmed the death on Saturday.
James Coyne was appointed the second head of the bank of Canada in 1955 and held the post until 1961.
He was forced to step down after refusing to adopt the Diefenbaker government's expansionist monetary policies.
The controversy — dubbed the Coyne Affair — has since been recognized as an important step on the road to making the bank more independent and transparent.
The Winnipeg-born Coyne graduated from the University of Manitoba in 1931 and later studied at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.
He first joined the research department of the Bank of Canada in 1938.
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