Clearly taking a leaf out of Justin Trudeau’s book, Canada’s Finance Minister has decided that since we’re in 2016 for crying out loud, it’s high time we put women not only in cabinet, but also on our money.
Bill Morneau has announced that he is open to adding a famous woman (or women) to Canadian banknotes.
“I can say that I would be strongly supportive of a recommendation from the Bank of Canada to put an iconic woman or women on the banknote,” said Morneau.
In a previous series of the polymer banknotes, images of the famous five who fought for women’s rights in Canada were included along with Therese Casgrain, a Quebec feminist.
The $50 bill once pictured a group of Alberta women who challenged Canada’s top court to consider women “persons” under the British North America Act, but it has also been discontinued.
So with that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of Canadian females we think are deserving of the honour. And in the name of equality, why stop at $50? We’re going for the hundy, too.
Here are some Canadian women we think deserve to grace our dollar bills.
Lucy Maud Montgomery/Anne of Green Gables
Sure, she’s technically a fictional character from Lucy Maud Montgomery’s book series. But Anne Shirley, the 11 year old orphan sent to a farm on Prince Edward Island, is about as iconic a Canadian as you can get. Anne of Green Gables has sold over 50 million copies and been translated into 20 languages. If you’re not down with fictional characters being on real money, we’ll take Lucy Maud just as happily.
The former ice hockey player played at the highest level for twenty years, and is considered by many to be the first modern female superstar of the sport, bringing it into the mainstream. She brought Team Canada to gold medal glory four times, setting scoring records in the process, and was one of the first two women inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Winner (and three-time nominee) of the Man Booker prize for fiction, Atwood is the definitive Canadian author of our time. Aside from producing enduring works like The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake, she has contributed to the theorizing of Canadian identity in her literary criticism.
She’s the longest serving major in the city’s history, carving out an impressive 36 years for Mississauga. And ‘Hurricane Hazel’ certainly made them count, with an outspoken political style and the now infamous Rick Mercer video in which she introduces him to the city.
The first Canadian to be invited by NASA to be on the Discovery team in 1992, this lady is an inspiration to us all. Not only is she the country’s first astronaut in space – she’s also our first neurologist to do so. And after more than a decade as NASA’s head of space medicine, Bondar is now a speaker for the business, science, and medical community.
The writer and artist inspired by Indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast as one of the first Canadians to paint in the Modernist and Post-Impressionist style. She didn’t receive recognition until late in her life and her piece The Crazy Stair (The Crooked Staircase) became the most valuable piece ever by a female Canadian, going for $3 million in 2013.
The Grammy Award winning singer and songwriter is one of the most influential recording artists of the twentieth century. She not only wrote and performed classic hits like A Case of You, Both Sides Now, and Big Yellow Taxi, she also designed her own album artwork throughout her career, and described herself as a “painter derailed by circumstance.”
Both a successful cyclist and speed skater, Clara is the only athlete to ever win multiple medals at both the summer and winter Olympics. Aside from her sporting achievements she is the National Spokesperson for the Bell Let’s Talk Mental Health, using her past depression to help open up the discussion and remove the stigma surrounding mental health issues.
You may know Laura Secord better as the chocolate, confectionery, and ice-cream company, who had its first store on Yonge Street. But it was actually named after the Canadian heroine of the war of 1812, who walked 20 miles out of American occupied territory to warn British forces of an impending American attack.
The first woman elected to the Canadian House of Commons, Agnes had an active life in politics. Promoting her ideas through legislation and columns in the Globe and Mail, Macphail was one of the first two women elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.
A McGill University graduate, Harriet Brooks was the first Canadian female nuclear physicist. After collecting a degree in mathematics and natural philosophy, she became famous for her research on nuclear transmutations and radioactivity. The physicist Ernest Rutherford, who guided her through her graduate work, regarded her as next to Marie Curie in ability.
Nicknamed ‘Tiger’ for her go-getting attitude and aggressive way of skiing, Greene was voted Canada’s Female Athlete of the 20th Century. But the champion alpine skier, and gold medal winner at the Olympics and the World Championship, wasn’t content with simply dominating her sport; in 2009 she entered the world of politics, taking her seat as Conservative member of the Senate of Canada.
Other Honourable Mentions
We’re not sure they quite make the cut for our banknotes, but putting Celine Dion, Alanis Morisette, Shania Twain, and Pamela Anderson on a quarter wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.