Bank of Canada unveils new $10 note honoring civil rights hero Viola Desmond

The $20 note will continue to portray the reigning monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II.
By , Special to Coin World
Published : 03/19/18
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The Bank of Canada celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8 by unveiling its new polymer $10 bank note featuring Viola Desmond, the first woman other than a royal family member to appear on a regularly-circulating Canadian note. The ceremony took place at the Halifax, Nova Scotia Central Library.


Seeing doubled elements on a Lincoln cent? You might have a doubled die variety. Also in this issue, we reflect on a time when U.S. paper money depicted living persons.


Exactly two years earlier, on International Women’s Day 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced that the time had come for a woman to appear on the paper currency. Desmond was selected after a national call for nominations from the public.

Desmond was a successful businesswoman in Nova Scotia, who in 1946 refused to leave the whites-only section of a movie theater. She was jailed, convicted, and fined for tax evasion, in what is said to be the first known legal challenge to racial segregation brought by a black woman in Canada.

Minister Morneau said: “Her story serves as inspiration to all Canadians and acts as a powerful reminder of how one person’s actions can help trigger change across generations. As we strive for equality across our economy and in every facet of our country, we hope this constant reminder of Viola’s story will help inspire a new generation of women, men, girls and boys to fight for what they believe, take their place and create a better future for themselves and all Canadians.”

The 6-inch by 2.75-inch note is replete with updated security features, including raised ink, 3-D technology, transparency, metallic images and symbols, and color shifts.

The designs on both sides of the note are presented in a vertical format rather than horizontally.

The $5 denomination will be the next note to undergo redesign. The bank says that it will seek another public consultation when ready. The $20 note will continue to portray the reigning monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II. 

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