OTTAWA – The Bank of Canada has announced its shortlist of five women contending to be the first Canadian female on the face of a banknote, and online favourite Nellie McClung is not among them.
On its website, the bank says an independent committee has narrowed down the finalists to poet E. Pauline Johnson; black rights activist Viola Desmond from Nova Scotia; Elsie MacGill, who received an electrical engineering degree from the University of Toronto in 1927; Quebec suffragette Idola Saint-Jean; and 1928 Olympic medallist Fanny Rosenfeld, a track and field athlete.
Others who didn’t make the cut included “Anne of Green Gables” author Lucy Maud Montgomery; B.C. artist Emily Carr; and Manitoba author Gabrielle Roy.
In a recent online survey conducted by Angus Reid, 27 per cent of responded favoured McClung, the Alberta suffragette who fought for women to be legally recognized as persons in Canada, making her the No. 1 choice.
Quebec politician Therese Casgrain, MacGill, Montgomery, Carr and Desmond rounded out the top six choices.
The advisory council has said the nominees needed to have overcome barriers, been inspirational, or have left a lasting legacy.
“We recognize that Canada is comprised of many different communities,” the committee has said. “The women who appear on our list should resonate with Canadians and reflect the diversity of Canada. Their achievements must be seen in the context of the time they lived.”
Angus Reid conducted the survey of 1,517 Canadian adults who are members of its online forum between May 10 and May 13. The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.
The bank’s advisory council received more than 18,000 submissions during a public call for nominations earlier this year.
Women have been on a Canadian banknote previously, although not on the face.
The Famous Five suffragettes, along with Casgrain, were featured on the back side of a $50 bill unveiled in 2004. However, the women were dropped from the bill in 2011 when a new polymer version was introduced.
The Queen, of course, is a fixture on Canadian currency.
The Bank of Canada will announce the winner on Dec. 8.