New $10 bill sure to please all Canadians

Courtesy of the Bank of Canada, Canadians are going to get a fascinating combined history, coast-to-coast geography and culture lesson when the new $10 bill is released for general distribution, June 1.

I have to say I am very impressed by the thought and consideration that clearly went into the design of this new $10 bill.

Intended to help commemorate the 150th anniversary of Confederation, the note is quite a bit more complicated than the existing Sir John A. Macdonald blue polymer $10 banknote.

In fact it takes quite an examination to pick out the details of its many interesting features.

I can help, thanks to a recent release by the Bank of Canada. Check it out yourself on the website.

As the acknowledged Father of Confederation and first Prime Minister of Canada, Sir John A. remains a feature of the new bill – but he is joined by illustrations of three other historically famed Canadians – including the man who brought Quebec into Confederation, Sir George-Étienne Cartier, another principal architect of Canadian federalism who is also a proponent of Confederation as a means of safeguarding French Canada and other minorities.

Moving into the 1900s, Agnes Macphail joins the two founding politicians and is recognized on the new bill as a champion of equality and human rights.

In 1921, MacPhail became the first woman elected to the House of Commons in Canada. Originally entering politics to represent the interests of farmers in her southern Ontario riding, Macphail became a strong advocate of the working class and defender of marginalized groups such as women, miners, immigrants and prisoners. Right ladies, Canadians are very small-c conservative and take time to get some things done…

Also shown, representing indigenous Canada, is James Gladstone, a member of the Kainai (Blood) First Nation whose Blackfoot name is Akay-na-muka, meaning “Many guns.” Gladstone committed himself to the betterment of indigenous peoples in Canada.

In 1958, he became Canada’s first senator of First Nations origin, appointed to the Upper House by Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, enabling the new Senator to push for reforms on indigenous issues from a stronger platform.

In his first speech to the House, Gladstone spoke in the Blackfoot language, “to place in the official debates a few words in the language of my people…as a recognition of the first Canadians,” states the Canadian Encyclopedia.

The very busy-looking new banknote also economically illustrates the enormous size and breadth of our country in several ways, including a listing of all the names of Canada’s provinces and territories and the dates when they entered Confederation.

The names are repeated in English and French across the top and bottom of the large window.

The order in which the names appear follows the official order of precedence and lists the provinces followed by the territories.

Architectural elements include Memorial Chamber Arch, located inside the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill.

The Memorial Chamber was dedicated in 1927 to all Canadians who died in military service during the First World War and has since come to honour all Canadians who gave their lives in service to their country.

A second architectural element is the Hall of Honour in the central corridor of the Centre Block on Parliament Hill. This neo-Gothic passageway, with its remarkable ribbed vault ceiling, leads from Confederation Hall to the Library of Parliament.

The geography lesson starts on the west coast, with the Coast Mountains and the iconic peaks overlooking Vancouver, British Columbia.

Widely known as The Lions, they were named by John Hamilton Gray, a Father of Confederation who later served on the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Stalks of wheat ripening on a family farm outside of Regina, Saskatchewan, symbolize the Prairies and one of Canada’s most valuable crop exports.

Next in the geography lesson is a forest stand on the bank of the Kipawa River, in Parc National d’Opémican, Quebec, signifying the central Canadian Shield, covering 4.8 million sq. km., roughly half the total land area of Canada, stretching from northern Alberta to Newfoundland and Labrador and from central Ontario to the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Reaching the Atlantic Ocean we see the rocky coast of Cape Bonavista in Canada’s eastern-most province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The nearby town of Bonavista, was established in the late 1500s, is one of the earliest European communities in North America and was a possible landing site of John Cabot, who sailed to North America in 1497.

How much more of Canada appears on this new bill…well, quite a bit. Canada 1867 – 2017 is emblazoned against a background of the northern lights dancing above Canada’s largest national park, Wood Buffalo, which is one of the largest national parks in the world.

Not done yet, as our various elements of our culture fit the bill as well, including the Assomption Sash – a pattern is based on the distinctive sash (also known as the arrow sash), which was such an important cultural symbol of the Métis people and to French-Canadian culture. It is across the face top of the bill and in the clear polymer section we see the Owl’s Bouquet, a stone-cut and stencil print by acclaimed Inuit artist Kenojuak Ashevak (1927-2013). Ashevak is perhaps the best known Inuit artist, whose work helped to introduce Inuit art to the world.

The Provinces and Territories are also represented by thirteen maple leaves, linked by their stems, based on the maple leaves found in Canada’s coat of arms. More? Yes – the national flag of Canada is featured in the large window.

The word “Canada” is included twice so that it can be read from both the front and back of the note. Canada’s Coat of Arms – the coat of arms is an official symbol of Canada, representing the authority of the state and designed to inspire love of country, says the Bank of Canada.

My thanks to the Bank for analyzing the design.

As I said, I am most impressed by the new official $10 bill and will be looking forward to being able to examine it personally in a few weeks.