$10 makeovers for Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir George-Etienne Cartier
The Bank of Canada's commemorative $10 banknote is shown during the unveiling ceremony in Ottawa on April 7, 2017. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)
Published Thursday, April 20, 2017 12:07PM EDT
At first glance, Canada’s new $10 banknote commemorating the 150th anniversary of Confederation appears as inoffensive as any other Canadian bill in circulation.
The country’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald is featured on the note, beside Father of Confederation Sir George-Étienne Cartier, Canada’s first female MP Agnes MacPhail and the first senator from a treaty First Nation James Gladstone.
The respected group look composed and nothing looks to be out of place, such as, a stray hair or two perhaps. But that wasn’t always the case.
After what looks like haircuts and a little eyebrow trimming, the portraits of Macdonald and Cartier are spared any further embarrassment.
According to a report by Pollara Strategic Insights, which was delivered to the Bank of Canada prior to the release of the official commemorative $10 banknote at the beginning of April, a couple of the bill’s subjects were in need of a trip to the salon.
In August 2016, the research company led 10 focus groups, in various Canadian provinces, to study a prototype of the proposed banknote design before it was released into circulation. The participants were asked to give their first impressions as well as their more thorough reviews.
When the participants were asked to identify any perceived “mistakes, illusions or errors,” Macdonald and Cartier’s unruly hair stood out.
The report said the focus groups took issue with the “hair on the right side of Sir John A. Macdonald’s face touching Sir George-Étienne Cartier’s ear.”
His banknote neighbour, Cartier, was also under scrutiny for one particularly unsightly eyebrow hair that focus group participants identified as “sticking up.”
The Bank of Canada apparently took heed of the critiques, because when the redesigned 10-dollar bill was unveiled by the Governor Stephen Poloz in early April, Macdonald’s curly coif wasn’t touching Cartier’s ear anymore.
And, in addition to the first prime minister’s fresh ‘do, Cartier’s eyebrows had undergone a grooming.
The Bank of Canada can be forgiven for the banknote’s exhaustive vetting protocols after a couple of “hairy” moments in the past.
In 1954, the hair on the Queen’s portrait gracing $1, $2 and $20 banknotes was widely criticized for resembling a devil’s face. The so-called “Devil’s head” bills caused such a stir that the Bank of Canada issued a new version of the notes two years later.
In a more recent example from 2012, then-governor of the Bank of Canada Mark Carney apologized when it was revealed that the female scientist on the new $100 banknotes was changed to look Caucasian after focus groups expressed concerns about the original note’s Asian-looking female figure.