Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Eminent Canadian Women Arise from Obscurity To Figure on Bank Note

Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau has just announced that:

"Today, on International Women's Day, the Bank of Canada is taking the first step by launching public consultations to select an iconic Canadian woman to be featured on this new bill" in the next series of bills expected in 2018.

The nominees can be any Canadian woman, either by birth or naturalization who has demonstrated leadership, achievement or distinction in any field, according to a release from the Bank of Canada, but they can't be fictional and must have died prior to April 15, 1991. 

Canadians are invited to make nominations until April 15, 2016 here.

So I had fun going through this timeline list of Canadian women and found a long list of names from widely disparate fields: Doctors and lawyers, scientists, politicians, activists, athletes, entertainers, publishers, writers, even flyers.

Here's a short list of perhaps the most famous, and only a few could be considered possibilities. There are many more to choose from since 1991 (and why stop that year?).

Laura Secord (1775-1868) had iconic Canadian chocolates named after her so she became famous. Looks like she overheard American troops plotting at attack against the British. On June 22, 1812 (not the middle of winter), she walked 30 kilometers to sound a warning to a British colonel.

Elizabeth Bruyere (1818-1876) was founder of Grey Sisters of Ottawa, founder of schools, orphanage, and hospitals in Montreal and Ottawa.

Sister authors Catherine Parr Traill (1802-1899) and Susanna Moodie (1803-1885) published Canadian Wild Flowers and many other books to earn money to live on.

Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942) was the author of Anne of Green Gables and many other novels.

Florence Nightingale Graham (1878-1966), better known as Elizabeth Arden, borrowed $6,000.00 and opened the first beauty salon on New York's Fifth Avenue (that's hard to verify) in 1909.

Mary Pickford (1892-1979) by 1915 was receiving 500 fan mail letters each week. She was reportedly the highest paid woman in the world at the time.

Emily Carr (1871-1945) published Klee Wyck which won the Governor General's Award in literature and has become celebrated as perhaps the most historically significant female Canadian artist.

Mary Elizabeth Kinnear (1898-1991) was appointed to the Senate of Canada in 1967 (although the first female senator was Cairine Wilson (1895-1962) appointed in 1930), and retired from the Senate in 1973 and was the first woman appointed to be King's Counsel, the first female lawyer in Canada to appear as counsel before the Supreme Court of Canada.

With such a plethora of women to choose from, perhaps the old oxymoron of "famous" + "Canadian women" will become outdated, as I do hope. 

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