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In 2018, Canadians could see a woman's face on their currency other than the Queen's – and two weeks from now, they'll find out which one. The Bank of Canada released a shortlist of five women ahead of an announcement on Dec. 8 when the winner will be chosen. Here's a look at who's in the running.


Who are the final five?

  • Viola Desmond, a black businesswoman turned civil-rights activist who, in 1946, was ejected from a Nova Scotia cinema and jailed for refusing to leave the theatre’s whites-only section.
  • E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake), a poet and performer of the late 19th century who was the daughter of a Mohawk chief and an English woman.
  • Elsie MacGill, the first woman in Canada to receive a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering.
  • Fanny (Bobbie) Rosenfeld, a track-and-field athlete who won gold and silver medals at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, and went on to write a sports column for The Globe and Mail for 20 years.
  • Idola Saint-Jean, a feminist and pioneer in the fight for suffrage in Quebec.

How did they choose these women?

The advisory board had a large pool of candidates to choose from. After the Bank of Canada opened the call for submissions back in March on International Women's Day, the bank ended up with 461 eligible nominees out of 26,300 suggestions from the public. Candidates could be "any Canadian woman (by birth or naturalization) who has demonstrated outstanding leadership, achievement or distinction in any field, benefiting the people of Canada, or in the service of Canada." They had to be real people, so while author Lucy Maud Montgomery got nominated (and even made the long list), her most famous fictional creation, Anne of Green Gables, did not. They also had to have died before April 15, 1991 (sorry, Margaret Atwood).

Earlier this year, the advisory board whittled those 461 down to a long list of 12. Long-listed women who didn't make the final five included artist Emily Carr, author Gabrielle Roy and Nellie McClung, one of the "Famous Five" who fought for Canadians' right to be appointed to the Senate in the 1920s.

"I am … delighted that this entire process encouraged a meaningful conversation among Canadians about the many exceptional women who have shaped our country," Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said in Thursday's news release.

"Canadian women made our country what it is today, and they deserve a place on our currency," Finance Minister Bill Morneau said.

Have women been on Canadian bank notes before?

Since the Bank of Canada began issuing notes in 1935, the Queen and a few members of the Royal Family have been the only women featured on the face side of a bank note. The Famous Five were on the reverse side of the $50 bill from 2004 to 2011, as was pioneering Québécoise politician Thérèse Casgrain. Under former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney, a redesigned $50 replaced those women with an icebreaker.

In his new job as governor of the Bank of England, Mr. Carney faced a renewed public appeal to put women on British currency. The bank settled on Jane Austen, who will appear on the £10 note in 2017.