Paper Money

Who will appear on the Bank of Canada’s next $5 note?

The current Bank of Canada $5 note has a portrait of Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who has been on that denomination for nearly half a century. Bank officials are calling on the public to recommend a replacement candidate.

Original images courtesy of Bank of Canada.

The Bank of Canada will soon announce its plans for a new $5 bill to replace the current one with the portrait of Prime Minister (1896 to 1911) Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who has been on that denomination for nearly half a century.

Governor Stephen S. Poloz discussed plans for the next issue in a fireside chat at the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade on Jan. 9. His focus was on the bank’s desire to include consultation with the public as part of the design process. He said the procedure would be similar to the one used for the $10 note that resulted in the selection of civil rights hero Viola Desmond. He told the audience, “This time we will be asking all Canadians to nominate any historic Canadian — someone who is truly banknote-able.”

Details are expected to be announced within a month on the Bank of Canada website.

Canada’s Global News is among the media already mentioning possibilities. So far the most popular candidates appear to be a pair who fought heroic battles with cancer. In 1980, Terry Fox, with one leg amputated due to the disease, decided to run across the country in a Marathon of Hope to raise money and awareness for cancer research. He succumbed to a form of bone cancer in 1981 at the age of 23, but the Terry Fox Foundation and Research Institute continue his work. A 1999 survey named him Canada’s greatest hero.

Gord Downie (1964 to 2017) was the front man for the alt-rock band, The Tragically Hip. Upon his passing from brain cancer, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that Downie “painted landscapes with his words, elevating Canadian geography, historical figures, and myths. When he spoke, he gave us goosebumps and made us proud to be Canadian. Our identity and culture are richer because of his music, which was always raw and honest — like Gord himself.” 

Others are pushing for a woman on the $5 note to join Desmond on the $10 note. Others suggested sports figures hockey legend Wayne Gretzky (even though it has been decades since he lived in Canada), the NBA’s Toronto Raptors championship basketball team, and even Don Cherry, the disgraced hockey sports analyst who in November 2019 was fired from Sportsnet from Hockey Night in Canada for comments made during a segment of his show. 

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