OTTAWA – The Bank of Canada is making a molehill out of a mountain.
The central bank had claimed that its new plastic $10 bank notes included an image of majestic Mount Edith Cavell, a prominent peak in the Canadian Rockies south of Jasper, Alta.
But a sharp-eyed professor in Toronto, who had hiked the mountain with his family, thought something was amiss when the image matched neither his memory nor his photos.
Hitesh Doshi contacted the Bank of Canada by email last November, shortly after the new $10 notes were released, to say something was amiss. He kept getting the runaround until last week.
That’s when the central bank quietly changed its website, removing Mount Edith Cavell and several other peaks from its official description of the back of the $10 bank note, replacing them with some other peaks.
It also sent Doshi a short email, finally acknowledging the error.
“One of the memorable things for me in Alberta was visiting (Mount) Edith Cavell,” he said of a visit with his family. “To us, it was a very memorable trip.”
But when he later examined the $10 bank note, “the peak was not there,” said Doshi, a professor of architecture at Ryerson University and a new Canadian. “That’s where the whole thing started.”
Doshi contacted a mountaineer based in Edmonton, Eric Coulthard, who noticed some other discrepancies in the images of peaks on the bank note. For one, there was a misidentified image of Mount Zengel, which the bank claimed was the Palisade and Pyramid mountains.
“He recognized Zengel right off the bat,” said Doshi, who sent the bank some more unanswered emails in November and December.
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Eight months after Doshi’s original inquiries, the Bank of Canada finally removed Mount Edith Cavell and Mount Marmot from its website description of the upper left image of the mountains, saying they’re actually Lectern Peak and Aquila Mountain. Mount Zengel is also properly identified, along with some other changes.
“I can confirm that we changed the description of the $10,” bank spokesman Alexandre Deslongchamps said Monday.
“Image research was undertaken during the development of the polymer (plastic bank note) series. The documentation error was the result of a misunderstanding about information provided to the Bank of Canada by Canadian Bank Note Co. Ltd.”
Added Deslongchamps: “The bank has consulted several subject matter experts to ensure that we now have an accurate identification of the mountains in our documentation for the $10 note.”
The mountain images on the back of the $10 note, which also features a passenger train, were based on commissioned panoramic photographs, with images later cut and pasted to highlight certain peaks, rather than depict an actual panorama.
“Selected areas within those photographs appear in the $10 design, and are now accurately identified on the bank’s website,” Deslongchamps said.
The bank simply changed the website descriptions without a note to readers citing the alterations or the reasons.
Edith Cavell, for whom the peak was renamed in 1916, was an English nurse during the First World War. She was executed by the German army in 1915 for helping Allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium.
The 3,363-metre peak in Jasper National Park formerly had a French name that translates the Mountain of the Great Crossing (La Montagne de la Grande Traversee).
The Bank of Canada’s new polymer series of bank notes, introduced to thwart counterfeiters, has been plagued with problems and misunderstandings.
Vending-machine operators initially complained that the new plastic $20 bills didn’t work properly in their machines. Critics complained that images of pioneering feminists, the Famous Five and Therese Casgrain, were removed from the old $50 bill to make way for the image of an icebreaker on the new, plastic version.
Some Canadians said they believed the scent of maple syrup was added to the bills, which the Bank of Canada denies.
And the bank came under fire when it was revealed the image of an Asian woman on a prototype of the new $100 bank note was changed to look Caucasian when focus groups complained about her ethnicity. Then-Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney later apologized.