Beauty and diversity, racism and poutine highlight suggestions for new Canadian bank note

Could this be Canada's new commemorative $20 bill?. Matthew Peleshok / Global News

Would you pay for your fries with a fistful of poutines? How about buying a coffee and doughnut with a $10 bill emblazoned with the image of Canadians enjoying a break at a coffee shop?

These are some of the suggestions sent to the Bank of Canada when they asked Canadians what images they would like to see on a new bank note commemorating Canada’s 150th anniversary.

Through surveys, focus groups and an online form in late 2014 and through 2015, the Bank of Canada asked what themes and images should be on the new note. The thousands of ideas the Bank received range from the expected (a maple leaf, a beaver), to the delicious (Nanaimo bars), to downright racist (“natives in their natural habitat”).

Global News received the unedited submissions through an Access to Information (ATIP) request. In a letter accompanying the documents, the Bank of Canada was careful to note that “these commentaries are not the views of the Bank of Canada” – an unusual addition to an ATIP package, though understandable given some of its contents.

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READ MORE: Government to issue new bank note to mark 150 years of Confederation

Many commenters wanted to highlight Canada’s natural beauty, suggesting images of the northern lights, polar bears and other animals, and pictures of mountains, forests and oceans.

Others wanted to show Canada’s inclusivity and multiculturalism with things like “different colours of hands holding each other.”

Not everyone was so positive about immigration though.

One person suggested, “A white person or christian being bent over and spanked by a minority.”

“We accomidate (sic) the minorities so much that is what would be fitting!” he or she explained.

And while there were many suggestions that Canada’s new bank note should include images of Aboriginal Peoples, others wrote with suggestions to show how Canada has treated indigenous people: “Smallpox-infested blankets” was one such idea.

A number of people suggested that the new bank note show some notable Canadians, such as astronaut Chris Hadfield, hockey players Guy Lafleur and Wayne Gretzky, author Margaret Atwood, singer Celine Dion and former prime minister Stephen Harper.

READ MORE: Canadian woman to be added to new currency – Trudeau

Others didn’t seem to know what was already on Canadian money, and suggested things like kids playing hockey (on a series of $5 bills issued from 2001-2006), the Canadarm (on the new polymer $5 bill), and John A. Macdonald (on the $10 bill).

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A few people were so dedicated that they emailed the Bank of Canada directly with a long explanation of why their idea should be chosen. One person, who wants the new bank note to commemorate David Fife, the developer of Red Fife wheat, attached a 14-page epic poem that he or she wrote about Fife. It reads in part:

Red Fife Wheat is revered
David Fife all but disappeared
Looking back one hundred years at this seeming paradox
There is no rhyme or reason, no thinking outside the box

Give a cheer
David Fife, we are glad we knew ya

Some other notable suggestions include:

  • Politeness and openness of spirit, shown through the words “please & thank you, s’il-vous-plait et merci”
  • less queen – no one likes her really
  • “eh?, ‘sorry’, ‘givin’er’, etc”
  • Waste of taxpayers money
  • I really do not care
  • Burning down the White House

According to the Bank of Canada, ideas gathered from the public were reviewed, the top themes were identified, and some ideas were turned into concept designs. These designs were presented to focus groups, and those comments informed which designs were presented to the Minister of Finance. Ultimately, said the Bank, the final design is up to the Minister.

The Bank did not mention which ideas made it to the mock-up design stage, or what denomination the new bank note will be available in.

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The new bill will be issued before Canada’s 150th anniversary on July 1, 2017.

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