Written By: Thursday, April 7th 2016

In 2018, a prominent Canadian woman, who has made a huge difference in the lives of Canadians today, will appear on a bank note. She will be the first Canadian woman to appear on a bill in Canadian history.

While there are many deserving women for this honour, many hail from Grey-Bruce. Agnes MacPhail has been a huge standout, with Grey County launching a social media campaign to support her nomination, but there are many others that should be recognized as well.

First off, there are only two requirements for a woman to be nominated:

  • They are a Canadian (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 have been deceased for at least 25 years.

The Process

Open nominations end on April 15th. Nominations will then be condensed into a list of 10-12 names put together by an advisory committee that is made up of Canadian academics and cultural leaders. A formal survey will then go out to a sample of Canadians on their opinions of the nominees before a short list of 3-5 names is developed. This will be in conjunction with an expert panel. The final decision will then be up to Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

Here are some of the women who have been nominated in Grey Bruce:

Agnes MacPhail
Born: Proton Township, Grey County


Agnes MacPhail has paved the way for women in government as the first woman to be elected a member of parliament. She was elected in 1921 to represent the riding of Grey-Bruce and has a rich history in Grey County.

She attended OSCVI at the age of 14 before going to teacher’s college in Stratford. She worked as a teacher in a number of places in Grey Bruce, including Port Elgin, Walkerton and Kincardine, before launching her political career.

She was elected as a member of the United Farmers of Ontario into federal parliament and served for 19 years until 1940. During her time as a MP, MacPhail pioneered work on prison reform, pensions, and social justice.

Grey County clerk Sharon Vokes told us why she believes Macphail deserves to be on the bank note;

[sc_embed_player fileurl=http://923thedock.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/sharon-vokes.mp3] (Click to play)

A social media campaign was launched by Grey County to gain support for Agnes MacPhail using #BecauseofAgnes.

Here are some of those tweets

Nellie McClung
Born in: Chatsworth

People - Mrs. Nellie McClung. (CP PHOTO) 1999 (National Archives of Canada/C.Jessop ) PA-030212

People – Mrs. Nellie McClung. (CP PHOTO) 1999 (National Archives of Canada/C.Jessop ) PA-030212

Nellie McClung is best known for her role as in of the Famous Five. These five women were responsible for putting forward the petition that redefined the word “Persons” in the British North America Act in 1927. The term “Persons” didn’t apply to women until this point and excluded women from political office.

She played a large role in the women’s suffrage movement. When she was 7 years old, her family moved from Grey County to Manitoba. It was in Manitoba that she first spoke up for women’s rights and became a prominent speaker for the Liberal party. In 1916, Manitoba was the first province to give women the right to vote. Shortly after that, she continued the fight to Alberta before the right to vote was given to women across the country.

While she is well-known for her activism, she was also a famous writer. Her first book “Sowing Seeds in Danny” was published in 1908 and sold over 100,000 copies. She also describes what it was like to live on a farm in Chatsworth in the first volume of her memoir, “Clearing in the West.”

Other Accomplishments:
She was the first women on the broadcast board of governors for the CBC in 1936.
She was also a Liberal member of the Alberta legislature from 1921 to 1926

Grey Roots Museum and Archives Petal Furness shares Nellie McClung’s famous saying;

[sc_embed_player fileurl=http://923thedock.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/nellie-mcclung.mp3] (Click to play)

McClung Plaque
Photo Courtesy of: http://researchergal.blogspot.ca/2008/10/nellie-mooney-mcclung-true-canadian.html

Nahnebahwequay (Catharine Sutton)
Born in: The Mississaugas

catherin sutton

Image of Catherine Sutton2. © Grey Roots Museum, Owen Sound

Nahnebahwequay, also known as Catherine Sutton, is famous for fighting for the right to her land. Nahnebahwequay grew up near Credit River, but moved to Ojibwa at Lake Huron after she was married. She was given 200 acres of land in Saugeen. In 1847, Queen Victoria confirmed the Indian ownership of the Saugeen Peninsula, so they believe their land was safe. It wasn’t long before the government put pressure on them to give up their land and even began to survey and advertise it for sale.

Sutton, lost her land and at the same time, lost her status as an Indian for being married to a white man. While pregnant, she traveled to England to meet directly with Queen Victoria to plead with her for the right to her land. Eventually, after lots of hard work and dedication, Catherine Sutton and her husband were able to purchase their land back.

Grey Roots Museum and Archives Petal Furness sums up the strength Nahnebahwequay showed by going to see Queen Victoria;

[sc_embed_player fileurl=http://923thedock.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/catherine-sutton.mp3] (Click to play)

Nominations will be open until April 15th, so who do you think should appear on the bank note in 2018?