Candidates for currency

It brought a smile to my face. It made me prouder than I’ve felt about being a Canadian in a while. Although, I think we all might have felt better about the entire episode, had Ottawa considered making such a decision years ago. But there it was, the image of a Viola Desmond on the $10 bill. And when I saw her story in the news, I thought the comment from the Governor of the Bank of Canada was entirely appropriate.

“It was long past time for a bank note to feature an iconic Canadian woman,” Stephen Poloz told reporters last Friday.

A Maud Maud world

New garden at St. Paul's Presbyterian Church in Leaskdale, Ont., on Saturday, June 20, 2015.
New garden at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Leaskdale, Ont., on Saturday, June 20, 2015.

It was getting late on Saturday afternoon. The chief dignitary at our event, the lieutenant governor of Ontario, had moved on to her next appointment. Most of the remaining dignitaries had left too. Only the volunteers were left cleaning up and chatting with us hangers-on. Suddenly a car pulled up and a couple emerged.

“Has the event already happened?” the woman asked. “Have they unveiled the sculpture?”

“The sculpture of Maud?” I repeated. “Yes, they have.”

“We’ve come a long way,” she said.

“Don’t worry. Just about everybody’s gone,” I said. “But the sculpture’s not going anywhere. She’s just waiting for you.”

Publish or perish

It must have been an extraordinary moment. A 40-year-old inventor in the 15th century city of Mainz, Germany, had experimented with metal alloys, molds, a pressing machine and oil-based ink. He took handmade paper, placed it in his press and moved the letters of the alphabet into position to print a 42-line piece of writing. He repeated the process 30 times to create a book. The book was a short Bible. The inventor was Johann Gutenberg. And the invention was history’s first mass printing of the world’s first published book.

“Incomparably the greatest event in the history of the world,” Mark Twain wrote 400 years later.