Kids have their say about who should appear on our next bank note
In one of our Bank of Canada Museum lesson plans, we challenged students to “think like historians,” as they nominated Canadians they’d like to see on our next $5 bill.
“Historical significance” is one of six concepts found in the Historical Thinking Project, a set of resources produced by education specialists Peter Seixas and Tom Morton. The project teaches a method of educating young students to think like historians—giving the kids a fishing rod instead of a fish when it comes to the study of history.
Students from across Canada recently explored the notion of historical significance using a lesson plan the Museum developed for grades 6 to 11: A Bank NOTE-able Canadian. The lesson complemented the public consultation the Bank of Canada organized in early 2020 to discover who Canadians felt should appear on the next $5 bill. Using the nomination criteria, the kids were asked to show us who they thought would best represent Canada on a new bank note.
But students also had to apply what they learned about historical significance and to think about their choices in a different way. This involves looking not simply at the person who is significant but also at the circumstances they create. So, when deciding someone’s significance, the young historians had to ask themselves a few questions:
- Did this person’s actions result in change?
- Can you draw a line from their actions to a series of significant events: simple cause and effect?
- Have their actions revealed something about the person’s context and era?
- Do the actions shed light on issues that concern us today?
Bank NOTE-able Canadians: the students’ choices
The Bank’s public call for nominations, the Next Bank NOTE-able Canadian, ended on March 11. There were nearly 45,000 nominations, resulting in over 600 qualifying individuals identified. It’s good to keep in mind that this was not a popularity contest but, rather, a process to gather from Canadians a broad selection of possible choices. No matter how few or how many times a person was nominated, each one will be given equal consideration. It’s a sort of crowd sourcing for candidates.
Teachers from six provinces and one territory followed our lesson plan mailed us nearly 200 examples of their students’ bank note designs. In total, 46 individuals were chosen by students to appear on the new $5 note. Just like the public consultation, the students’ choices resulted in multiple calls for some individuals. Terry Fox, Nellie McClung, Sir Isaac Brock, E. Pauline Johnson, Frederick Banting, Isapo-muxika (Crowfoot) and Tim Horton were all popular with the kids. But there were also some less familiar suggestions that we’d like to share. Some we even had to look up, such as the Montréal chemist who invented peanut butter: Marcellus Edson.
We chose Terrance Stanley Fox as a Canadian figure because he ran the Marathon of Hope and reached 5,373 km. […] Terry Fox and his journey have inspired us as students, athletes and children. He is a hero not only for Canada, but also for the whole world.Grade 10, Prince Edward Island
Angela Sidney was a Tagish woman from the Yukon. She was an author and fluent in three languages: English, Tagish and Tlingit. Her books were all about the Tagish culture—its traditions, songs and language—so these could be passed on to future generations. […] Her efforts to preserve her culture were even recognized by the Canadian government. She received the Order of Canada in 1985.Secondaire 5 student, Quebec
On April 9th 1917, Thain Wendel MacDowell, with two other runners, came to a German position before the rest of his company arrived at the battle of Vimy Ridge [ …] Later on, he received the Victorian Cross and the Distinguished Service Order: two of the military’s highest awards. So, I decided to choose Thain as the main person on the front of the bill.Grade 7 student, Alberta
The next steps for our new bank NOTE-able Canadian
As for the results of the public consultation, all eligible nominees will be reviewed by an independent advisory council. This council will take into account historical and public opinion research and develop a short list of candidates. Please visit the Bank’s website for a more in-depth look at both the process and the results.
Now the writer takes a deep breath and attempts to take a subject like the ‘representation of 75 years of national identity as depicted on stamps and bank notes’ from 50 pages of research and squash it into 65 words.
For much of their history, Canadian bank notes have represented a promise, a guarantee that they could be redeemed for “specie” (gold and silver coins) at their parent institution.
Suppose you walk into a bar frequented by currency collectors and in an attempt to join in you refer to a ‘planchette’ as a ‘rosette’ (beer mugs hit the tables and the pianist stops playing). This could be pretty humiliating and you’ll probably never be able to go to that bar again, at least not on numismatic night.
Now that you have a grasp of preservation techniques for coins, you might want to familiarize yourself with the finer points of their anatomy. It is all part of your numismatic education and besides, you need to be informed and sound informed when you are buying coins at flea markets or coin fairs.
Though naturally we are aware that the former Museum space is being gutted, the reality of seeing it empty is still pretty strange for most of us here. In the last blog of this series we showed you the empty cafeteria space that will become the new Museum, as well as some images of the old Museum as it was at the time: stuffed with odds and ends of exhibit cases, the occasional display still on the walls.
With all the blogging we’ve been doing for Voices from the Engraver, you’d think we had nothing else on our exhibition plate. We do, actually, and it’s called CENTimental Journey. This temporary exhibition, hosted at the Canadian Museum of History, walks you through more than 150 years of the Canadian 1 cent piece.