Halifax's two new ferries could be named after a slain gay rights activist, a black human rights leader, the creative force behind the Pier 21 immigration centre, a Mi'kmaq poet or a hero from the Halifax Explosion.

The city is asking residents to cast their vote online for names for two replacement harbour ferries, which are slated to be delivered this fall and summer 2018.

People submitted hundreds of names this spring, with the final five selected by a committee that included Mayor Mike Savage and a member of three community councils.

The list includes Vincent Coleman, who died after warning an inbound train about the impending Halifax Explosion in 1917; Ruth Goldbloom, who led the fundraising campaign for the creation of the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21; and, Rita Joe, known as the "poet laureate" of the Mi'kmaq people.

Burnley "Rocky" Jones, a prominent political human rights, race and poverty activist, and Raymond Taavel, an advocate LGBT rights who was killed in 2012, are also candidates.

Each of the new ferries will bear one of the two names receiving the most votes, with voting closing May 21.