Who is the most deserving female candidate to be on our new $10 bill?
Perceptions by Gerry Warner
So who’s face do you think should grace the new $10 bill?
Not the easiest question in the world, but, hey, the government is trying to make it easier for us by eliminating half the Canadian population, the male half that is. Sorry guys, but as our new prime minister smugly said when announcing that half his new cabinet would be women “because it’s 2015,” the wind has obviously changed direction and is not filling the sails of men anymore, at least in Canada
And maybe that’s not a bad thing.
So in the spirit of the new zeitgeist now filling the land, I got to thinking what deserving female rates the honour of having her image on the most numerous monetary note circulating in the land? Where does one begin?
Well, once again the government has made it easier for us with the Bank of Canada decreeing that the woman on the next issue of polymer, $10 bills cannot be alive today. Dead that is.
Darn! There goes Shania Twain. I’ve always been kinda partial to her and I’m not even a big country music fan. Or Sophie Gregoire, the dazzling wife of our new dazzling prime minister? Do we have to wait 60 years or so for Canada’s new First Lady to pass from this vale of tears? I guess so. Then there’s Christine Sinclair, probably the best female soccer player in the world or for that matter Hayley Wickenheiser, who holds the same exulted position in women’s hockey?
I could go on, but I guess we’re going to have to look into the past. Deep into the past and I can play that game too.
You want a a famous Canadian woman from the past? What about the actress Fay Wray. King Kong was so smitten with her he took her hostage on top of the Empire State Building and dared the US Air Force to stop him? Or Yvonne De Carlo, far before my time, but considered one of Hollywood’s elite for her role as a torch dancer in Salome, one of tinsel town’s naughtier flicks and her more elevated part as Moses’ wife in Cecil B DeMille’s, The 10 Commandments.
But to be a little more serious now, Canadian women aren’t only famous as entertainers. Throughout history, our ladies have achieved in any field you can name and none of them needed a man to help. How about Emily Murphy? She was the first female judge in Canada and the British Empire and a member of the “Famous Five,” an illustrious group of female social activists that won the famous “Persons Case” in 1929 that led the Supreme Court of Canada to declare that women were legal persons in their own right and were entitled, in theory at least, to do anything a man could do including vote. Many women today would say that battle is far from over.
Going further back there’s Lady Ishbel Gordon Aberdeen, a social reformer, who founded the National Council for Women and the Victorian Order of Nurses. And what about our famous female authors like Lucy Maud Montgomery of Anne of Green Gables fame? Hard to beat that! Or Pauline Johnson, the great aboriginal poet? Margaret Laurence, the author of Stone Angel and the greatest short story writer we’ve ever produced? Then there’s singer, song-writer and social activist Buffy Sainte-Marie? She’s my favourite, but she’s far from dead.
Let’s face it. This is a very subjective list. Everyone will have their own favourites and I’m no different. In fact, if I had to name a deceased lady that would do a $10 note proud, my choice would boil down to three. Drum roll please!
I have to admit my favourite would be Emily Carr, by far Canada’s greatest artist in my unprofessional opinion and an incredible eccentric to boot. But I also think Lotta Hitschmanova, founder of the Canadian Unitarian Service League would be an excellent choice as would Rosemary Brown, the first black Canadian woman to be elected to a Canadian legislature right here in BC.
What do you think?
Gerry Warner is a retired journalist and an occasional feminist.