The Fifty Dollar Question

Whose faces are on those crispy new bills? William Lyon Mackenzie King, Thérèse Casgrain, and the Famous Five women of Alberta—Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Nellie McClung, Irene Parlby and Louise McKinney—are depicted on Canada’s new $50 bill. They exemplify the theme of the new $50: Nation Building: Shaping the political, legal, and social structures for democracy and equality.

The front of the new $50 bill bears a portrait of former Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King. The back of the note features images of the Famous Five women, the Volunteer Award medallion that honours Thérèse Casgrain, and a quote from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, championed by Canadian John Peters Humphrey. The new $50 note celebrates the achievements of these great Canadians and the legacy of their reforms:

• Mackenzie King introduced social benefits such as unemployment insurance, family allowance and old-age pensions.

• The Famous Five’s legal challenge to the British North America Act enabled women to be recognized as “persons,” and, specifically, to be appointed to the Senate.

• Thérèse Casgrain was a highly respected champion of social justice and individual rights and the first woman to lead a political party in Québec. She was also appointed to the Senate.

• John Peters Humphrey was the first Director of the United Nations Human Rights Division, under whom the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed in 1948.

These individuals and their respective achievements played key roles in the building of our nation. They helped to define our beliefs and values as Canadians, and continue to serve as examples of tolerance and justice to the world.

Canada’s new $50 bill went into circulation on November 17th. It is the third bank note of the Canadian Journey series to be issued in 2004, following the new $20 in September and the new $100 in March. Like the other new high-denomination bills, the new $50 has improved anti-counterfeiting features—a holographic stripe, a watermark portrait, a windowed colour-shifting thread, and a see-through number—that are easy to check.

For more information on the new fifty dollar bill and Canadian bank notes, visit www.bankofcanada.ca/en/banknotes

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