The Bank of Canada unveiled (8th March) their latest bank note which will be the first Canadian bank note to include a portrait of a woman, aside from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The bank unveiled the design during a ceremony at the Halifax Public Library, which will be used on the $10 denomination and includes the likeness of Viola Desmond (1915–1965) whose selection was drawn from a short list of five iconic Canadians, who, together illustrate the diverse and important contributions women have made in shaping Canada’s history. Desmond is remembered as a businesswoman turned civil libertarian who built a business as a beautician, and, through her beauty school, was a mentor to young black women in Nova Scotia. She is best known, however, for her courageous refusal, in 1946, to accept racial discrimination by sitting in a whites-only section of a New Glasgow movie theatre. Desmond was arrested and fined for “attempting to defraud the provincial government” of the one cent difference between the balcony seats for black patrons and the seats on the main floor. Her actions inspired later generations of black people in Nova Scotia and the rest of Canada.
The new bank note is the first to be issued as part of the Bank of Canada’s new series entitled “Iconic Canadians” and is expected to be released into circulation later 2018. It retains the same previous purple colour scheme as well as dimensions of 152.4 x 69.85 millimeters. The most notable feature of the new note in terms of format and design is the fact that it is now Canada’s first note with a vertical format instead of the traditional landscape, or horizontal, format. The note will continue to be produced in a polymer substrate.
The reverse side will feature a historic map of the north end of Halifax where Viola Desmond lived during her life. This artistic rendering of a historic map shows the waterfront, Citadel and Gottingen Street, the thoroughfare where Desmond’s studio was located. Also depicted as part of the clear window and hologram is a portion of the Library of Parliament’s vaulted dome ceiling, capped by arched windows that flood the library with natural light in a stunning example of the Gothic Revival style of architecture. The premier depiction is that of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba, which is the first museum in the world solely dedicated to the evolution, celebration, and future of human rights.
Desmond would receive a posthumous free pardon from the Nova Scotia government on the 15th April 2010, which was granted by then-Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Mayann Francis, the first black Nova Scotian, and only the second black person in Canada to hold this office. The pardon was accompanied by a public declaration and apology from then-Premier Darrell Dexter, who indicated that charges should never have been pursued and that her conviction was a miscarriage of justice.
With the issuance of this new $10 note, the Bank of Canada’s approach to issuing bank notes is changing. Rather than issuing all five denominations within a short time frame, a new denomination will be issued every few years. This will allow the Bank to integrate the latest security features each time a new bank note is issued, ensuring that continued security and public confidence. The next design for the five dollar denomination note will also feature a new portrait subject and supporting imagery. As a result of the consultation processes to select new portrait subjects for the $10 note and the next $5 note, Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, and first francophone Prime Minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, will be depicted on larger denominations of the 50 and 100-dollar bank notes when they are redesigned. These changes will mean that former prime ministers William Lyon Mackenzie King, currently depicted on the 50 dollar denomination and Sir Robert Borden, who is seen on the 100 dollar note will no longer be portrayed on future Canadian bank notes. The 20 dollar denomination will continue to feature the HM Queen Elizabeth II, or the reigning monarch.
For additional information on this note and the presently circulating series of Canadian bank notes, please visit the website of the Bank of Canada.