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New Glasgow, N.S.

Clyde Macdonald is looking forward to picking up a new Canadian $10 bill.

Not only does it feature Viola Desmond, a woman he wrote about in his 2009 book, Innocent Until Proven Guilty, but it marks the first time a black woman has been featured on Canadian currency.

The bill was unveiled earlier this year and is making its way into currency this week.

“It’s very heartwarming to see that it has developed that way in Canada,” Macdonald said. “I suspect a lot of people will take possession of these $10 bills with Viola Desmond’s image on it and they’ll never be circulated again.”

He said the fact that it is vertical also adds a uniqueness to the bill.

In the U.S., there is now a movement to have more women included on currency. In the past bills in that country have typically featured male politicians, Macdonald said, but in Canada it has been much more common to see women featured. And that includes more than just Queen Elizabeth II.

“Of course, it’s like the old adage – out of sight, out of mind. We tend to forget that there are women on Canadian currency,” he said.

Clyde Macdonald holds some Canadian notes that depict women. He’s looking forward to adding the $10 bill featuring Viola Desmond to his collection.
Clyde Macdonald holds some Canadian notes that depict women. He’s looking forward to adding the $10 bill featuring Viola Desmond to his collection.

Here are some of the women he knows of that are featured:

• In the midst of the First World War, Princess Patricia, Queen Victoria’s granddaughter and wife of the Duke of Connaught, a Governor General of Canada appeared on the $1 Canadian note.

• In 1935, Canadian currency had women featured on the $10, $20 and $25 notes. On the $10 bill was the Countess of Dufferin. On the $20 bill was Princess Elizabeth and on the $25 note was Queen Mary along with King George V.

• The back of the $50 bill issued in 2004 has the image of Therese Casgrain (1896-1981). She was a reformer, activist, feminist and politician who was born and died in Montreal. That bill also includes an illustration of the statue of the women known as The Famous Five.

• The $10 bill issued in 2017 has Agnes MacPhail on the front along with other dignitaries. MacPhail was the first woman to be elected to the House of Commons in Ottawa and served there from 1921 to 1940.

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