First Canadian Woman On Banknote Should Be Nellie McClung, Poll Says

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TORONTO — Famous Five activist Nellie McClung is the No. 1 choice to become the first Canadian woman on the face of one of the country's banknotes, according to a recent online survey.

The survey found 27 per cent of respondents favoured McClung, a suffragette who fought for women to be legally recognized as persons in Canada.

Politician Therese Casgrain, aeronautical engineer Elsie MacGill, Anne of Green Gables author Lucy Maud Montgomery, artist Emily Carr and black activist and businesswoman Viola Desmond rounded out the top six choices.

nellie mcclung

Nellie McClung in an undated file photo. (Canadian Press)

All 12 options in the survey came from the long list of candidates created by the Bank of Canada's advisory council. The council narrowed its choices after receiving more than 18,000 submissions during a public call for nominations earlier this year.

The remaining six nominees all received less than 10 per cent of votes in the poll. They were poet E. Pauline Johnson, author Gabrielle Roy, artist Pitseolak Ashoona, suffragette Idola Saint-Jean, humanitarian Lotta Hitschmanova and athlete Fanny (Bobbie) Rosenfeld.

The Angus Reid Institute conducted the survey of 1,517 Canadian adults who are members of its online forum between May 10 and May 13. The polling industry's professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced earlier this year that a woman would be featured on the next issue of banknotes due out in 2018.

Four out of five respondents in the survey agreed that at least one woman other than the Queen should be on the front of a Canadian bill.

Women have been on a Canadian banknote previously, although not on the face.

The Famous Five, along with Casgrain, were featured on the back side of a $50 bill unveiled in 2004. However, the women were dropped from the bill in 2011 when a new polymer version was introduced.