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Public editor: One reader’s note leads to a correction, another doesn’t

Moraine Lake appears on the back of the old twenty-dollar bill.

On most days in The Globe and Mail, you see a correction or clarification on Page 2 and some articles online. These notices are often prompted by readers.

Each possible error pointed out by a reader requires an investigation to see what is right. Let me explain one note that ended up with a correction and one that didn't.

In the first case, a reader wrote a charming e-mail about an article on Maligne Lake and a proposed hotel in Jasper National Park. The original article said an image of the lake was once on the back of the five-dollar bill.

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"I'm pretty certain that that image graced the old paper 20-dollar bills in the 1970s and 1980s," the reader said. "I used to be a tour escort … and I made a point of bringing one of those 20-dollar bills with me on that stop, to show to my tour group. Since I also told my group that in the national parks they were to 'take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints,' many of them appreciated having a $20 souvenir of Maligne Lake without having to go to a gift shop."

The reporter set out to find out what was true. She had been told by a parks official that Maligne Lake had been on the five-dollar bill and she had seen it referenced online. But when she called the Bank of Canada, she learned that Maligne Lake has not appeared on any Canadian currency although Moraine Lake (which looks similar) had appeared on the back of the old twenty-dollar bill.

So, the reader was right that Maligne Lake had not been on the five-dollar bill although she was wrong about it being on the twenty. In any case, her e-mail alerted us to a mistake in the article and a correction was made.

In the second, another reader sent a letter to the editor about the state funeral for former finance minister Jim Flaherty. The article said Mr. Flaherty's funeral will be "only Canada's third state funeral for someone who wasn't a prime minister, governor-general or sitting cabinet minister," citing the 1868 funeral for D'Arcy McGee and the 2011 funeral for Jack Layton as the other two.

The reader challenged this coverage, saying: "This is not correct. Sir Arthur Currie was given a state funeral in Montreal on December 5, 1933, and the Canadian Unknown Soldier was given a state funeral on May 29, 2000."

So I searched historical records and old newspaper articles and found some confusing references to Sir Arthur Currie (Canada's military commander in 1917), with some articles calling it a military funeral and others a state funeral. The Unknown Soldier was described as a lying in state as opposed to having a state funeral.

Ultimately, the Dictionary of Canadian Biography (a wonderful site if you are interested in Canadian history) provided a clear answer: "His [Sir Arthur Curry's] civilian and military funeral on 5 December was held in Montreal, and was the largest to that point in Canadian history. An estimated 250,000 watched the funeral procession, and tens of thousands more listened to an account of it on a coast-to-coast radio broadcast. In London on the same day a memorial service was conducted in Westminster Abbey, which was filled to capacity."

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We greatly appreciate hearing about any possibility of a mistake and want to correct the record. On every online article, if you click on the comments page, you will see an editor's note that includes a link to use if you see a typo or error. You can also send me an email at publiceditor@globeandmail.com.

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About the Author
Public Editor

Sylvia Stead has been a reporter and editor at the Globe since 1975, after graduating from the University of Western Ontario in Journalism with a minor in Political Science. She won the Board of Governors Award there in 1974. As a reporter, Sylvia covered courts, education and Queen's Park. More

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