Coat of arms of Canada

Coat of arms of Canada

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Coat of arms of Canada'
Start a new discussion about 'Coat of arms of Canada'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The Arms of Canada is, since 1921, the official coat of arms
Coat of arms
A coat of arms is a unique heraldic design on a shield or escutcheon or on a surcoat or tabard used to cover and protect armour and to identify the wearer. Thus the term is often stated as "coat-armour", because it was anciently displayed on the front of a coat of cloth...

 of the Canadian monarch, and thus also of Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. It is closely modelled after the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom
Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom
The Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom is the official coat of arms of the British monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II. These arms are used by the Queen in her official capacity as monarch of the United Kingdom, and are officially known as her Arms of Dominion...

 with distinctive Canadian elements replacing or added to those derived from the British.

The maple leaves
Maple leaf
The maple leaf is the characteristic leaf of the maple tree, and is the most widely recognized national symbol of Canada.-Use in Canada:At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the settlements of New France had attained a population of about 18,000...

 in the shield, blazon
Blazon
In heraldry and heraldic vexillology, a blazon is a formal description of a coat of arms, flag or similar emblem, from which the reader can reconstruct the appropriate image...

ed "proper", were originally drawn vert
Vert
The colour green is commonly found in modern flags and coat of arms, and to a lesser extent also in the classical heraldry of the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern period....

 (green) but were redrawn gules
Gules
In heraldry, gules is the tincture with the colour red, and belongs to the class of dark tinctures called "colours". In engraving, it is sometimes depicted as a region of vertical lines or else marked with gu. as an abbreviation....

 (red) in 1957. A circlet of the Order of Canada
Order of Canada
The Order of Canada is a Canadian national order, admission into which is, within the system of orders, decorations, and medals of Canada, the second highest honour for merit...

 was added to the arms for limited use in 1987. The shield design forms the Royal Standard of Canada
Queen's Personal Canadian Flag
The royal standards of Canada are personal standards, or official flags, employed to mark the presence of the bearer at any building or area or aboard any car, ship, or airplane, both in Canada and abroad. There are three royal standards, one each for the monarch, the Prince of Wales, and the Duke...

, and the shield is found on the Canadian Red Ensign
Canadian Red Ensign
The Canadian Red Ensign is the former flag of Canada, used by the federal government though it was never adopted as official by the Parliament of Canada. It is a British Red Ensign, featuring the Union Flag in the canton, defaced with the shield of the Coat of Arms of Canada.-History:The Red Ensign...

. The Flag of the Governor General of Canada
Flag of the Governor General of Canada
The Flag of the Governor General of Canada was adopted in 1981. It features Canada's royal crest; a crowned lion holding a red maple leaf in its paw, standing on a wreath of the official colours of Canada , on a blue background...

, which formerly used the shield over the Union Flag
Union Flag
The Union Flag, also known as the Union Jack, is the flag of the United Kingdom. It retains an official or semi-official status in some Commonwealth Realms; for example, it is known as the Royal Union Flag in Canada. It is also used as an official flag in some of the smaller British overseas...

, now uses the crest
Crest (heraldry)
A crest is a component of an heraldic display, so called because it stands on top of a helmet, as the crest of a jay stands on the bird's head....

 of the arms on a blue field.

History


Prior to Confederation
Canadian Confederation
Canadian Confederation was the process by which the federal Dominion of Canada was formed on July 1, 1867. On that day, three British colonies were formed into four Canadian provinces...

 in 1867, the Royal Arms of the United Kingdom
Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom
The Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom is the official coat of arms of the British monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II. These arms are used by the Queen in her official capacity as monarch of the United Kingdom, and are officially known as her Arms of Dominion...

 served in Canada as the symbol of royal authority. Arms had not been granted to any of the colonies in British North America
British North America
British North America is a historical term. It consisted of the colonies and territories of the British Empire in continental North America after the end of the American Revolutionary War and the recognition of American independence in 1783.At the start of the Revolutionary War in 1775 the British...

, apart from the 17th century grants to Nova Scotia
Coat of arms of Nova Scotia
The coat of arms of the province of Nova Scotia is the oldest provincial achievement of arms in Canada, and the oldest British coat of arms outside Great Britain. It was granted in 1625 by King Charles I for the first Scottish colony on the Canadian mainland...

 and Newfoundland
Coat of arms of Newfoundland and Labrador
The coat of arms of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador was originally granted by King Charles I of England on 13 November 1638-History:...

. The year after Confederation, arms were granted by Royal Warrant on 6 May to Ontario
Coat of arms of Ontario
The coat of arms of Ontario was granted by Royal Warrant of Queen Victoria on 26 May 1868. This arms of Canada was shared with the provinces of Quebec, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador and also used in the Canadian Red Ensign. The Dominion arms was simple and lacked supporters...

, Quebec
Coat of arms of Quebec
The coat of arms of Quebec was adopted by order-in-council of the Quebec government on 9 December 1939, replacing the arms assigned by royal warrant of Queen Victoria on 26 May 1868.The shield is divided into three horizontal fields:...

, Nova Scotia
Coat of arms of Nova Scotia
The coat of arms of the province of Nova Scotia is the oldest provincial achievement of arms in Canada, and the oldest British coat of arms outside Great Britain. It was granted in 1625 by King Charles I for the first Scottish colony on the Canadian mainland...

 (the fact Nova Scotia had been granted arms had been forgotten, and it took until 1929 for the historic arms granted in the 17th Century to be reinstated) and New Brunswick
Coat of arms of New Brunswick
The original coat of arms of New Brunswick was granted to New Brunswick by a Royal Warrant of Queen Victoria on 26 May 1868. The provincial flag is a banner of the arms.-History:...

. The warrant did not issue arms to the dominion of Canada, though it made provision for the four provincial arms to be quartered for the purpose of a Great Seal for Canada (though this was never done). A shield of arms first quartered and then, over time, as more provinces and territories joined Canada, marshalled with the arms of the new members of Confederation emerged through popular and even Canadian governmental usage. This eventually resulted in a shield with nine quarterings, an arrangement that had never been approved by the monarch.

Nine quarterings on a shield is too complex for a national symbol, and by 1915 a push had begun to design a new coat of arms for Canada. A committee was formed in 1919 to pursue the issue, eventually agreeing that the elements of the new arms would reference the Royal Arms of England, Ireland, Scotland, and France, with maple leaves representing Canada, though there was at the time no consensus on how the leaves were to be used. The decision was settled by 1920, and the committee consulted with the College of Arms
College of Arms
The College of Arms, or Heralds’ College, is an office regulating heraldry and granting new armorial bearings for England, Wales and Northern Ireland...

 in London, only to face resistance to the use of the Royal Arms from the Garter King of Arms. After some manoeuvring, including the personal intervention of Winston Churchill, the new arms of Canada were eventually formally requested by an Order in Council on 30 April 1921, and adopted in November of the same year by proclamation of King George V
George V of the United Kingdom
George V was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 through the First World War until his death in 1936....

 as the "Arms or Ensigns Armorial of the Dominion of Canada," on 21 November.

The new layout closely reflected the arms of the United Kingdom, with the addition of maple leaves in the base, and the reference to the French royal arms in the fourth quarter.

In 1931, with the passage of the Statute of Westminster, Canada and other dominions became politically independent from the United Kingdom. This had the effect of elevating the Canadian Coat of Arms which had been granted as deputed arms for particular uses in a colony, to the status of the Royal Arms of the King in right of the country, for general purposes throughout the country. They thus replaced the British Coat of Arms, which had previously been arms of general purpose throughout the British Empire, in court rooms and on government buildings to represent the ruling monarch. This change can be seen in the Great Seal of Canada of George VI where the Royal Arms of Canada have replaced the British Arms, and is made even more evident in the Great Seal of Canada for Elizabeth where the title has been redefined as 'Queen of Canada'. These are the coat of arms of the Queen of Canada.

By 1957, the arms were redrawn by Alan Beddoe
Alan Beddoe
Lieutenant-Commander Alan Brookman Beddoe, OC, OBE, HFHS, FHSC was a Canadian artist, war artist, consultant in heraldry and founder and first president of the Heraldry Society of Canada in 1965....

 so as to have red leaves, and to change the royal crown from one of a Tudor design to one more resembling the St. Edward's Crown, as preferred by Queen Elizabeth II. To mark the 1982 patriation of the Canadian Constitution which finally ended the last vestiges of British authority over Canada, a McGill university student named Bruce Hicks proposed to Secretary of State
Secretary of State (Canada)
Secretary of State was a title given to some Ministers of State in the Government of Canada sitting outside Cabinet from 1993 to 2003 and again from 2007 to 2008. Secretaries of State were members of the ministry and the Queen's Privy Council for Canada...

 Gerald Regan
Gerald Regan
Gerald Augustine Regan, PC is a Canadian politician, who served as the 19th Premier of Nova Scotia from 1970 to 1978....

 that the motto of the Order of Canada
Order of Canada
The Order of Canada is a Canadian national order, admission into which is, within the system of orders, decorations, and medals of Canada, the second highest honour for merit...

 should be placed around the shield in order to bring these Royal Arms into line with other Royal Arms, many of which have been displayed in Canada during French, Scottish and English colonisation, where those countries' highest national order of honour appears around the shield of the arms, including the British Royal Arms
Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom
The Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom is the official coat of arms of the British monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II. These arms are used by the Queen in her official capacity as monarch of the United Kingdom, and are officially known as her Arms of Dominion...

 (which displayed the Order of the Garter
Order of the Garter
The Most Noble Order of the Garter, founded in 1348, is the highest order of chivalry, or knighthood, existing in England. The order is dedicated to the image and arms of St...

), the Scottish Royal Arms
Royal coat of arms of Scotland
The royal coat of arms of Scotland was the official coat of arms of the monarchs of Scotland, and was used as the official coat of arms of the Kingdom of Scotland until the Acts of Union of 1707...

 (Order of the Thistle
Order of the Thistle
The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle is an order of chivalry associated with Scotland. The current version of the Order was founded in 1687 by King James VII of Scotland who asserted that he was reviving an earlier Order...

) and the Royalist Arms of the French Regime (Order of the Holy Spirit
Order of the Holy Spirit
The Order of the Holy Spirit, also known as the Order of the Knights of the Holy Spirit, was an Order of Chivalry under the French Monarchy. It should not be confused with the Congregation of the Holy Ghost or with the Order of the Holy Ghost...

 and Order of Saint Michael
Order of Saint Michael
The Order of Saint Michael was a French chivalric order, founded by Louis XI of France in 1469, in competitive response to the Burgundian Order of the Golden Fleece founded by Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy, Louis' chief competitor for the allegiance of the great houses of France, the Dukes of...

). While unsuccessful in this first attempt, Bruce Hicks continued his campaign and was joined by a number of other amateur and professional heraldists. As a journalist in the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery in Ottawa in the late 1980s and early 90s, Hicks strategically recast the change as something worth doing to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Order of Canada (to occur in 1992), an idea that was endorsed by the Advisory Committee on the Order of Canada.

It took until 1994 for the Queen to approve the new design for general use, though the Canadian Heraldic Authority began to allow for its limited use beginning in 1987 where the arms were used to represent Her Majesty personally on letters patent granting new arms for distinguished Canadians. These letters patent carried the shield from the Royal Arms along with the annulus behind the shield bearing the motto of the Order of Canada
Order of Canada
The Order of Canada is a Canadian national order, admission into which is, within the system of orders, decorations, and medals of Canada, the second highest honour for merit...

 (Desiderantes meliorem patriam). As soon as Royal approval was forthcoming, the full achievement was redesigned for use by the federal government within the Federal Identity Program
Federal Identity Program
The Federal Identity Program is the Canadian government's corporate identity program. The purpose of the FIP is to clearly identify each program and service of the government or the government of Canada in general. Managed by the Treasury Board Secretariat, this program, and the government's...

.

The government of Canada poster on the Arms of Canada, published by the Department of Canadian Heritage to inform Canadians of the change in 1994, begins with the following acknowledgements: "Based on a suggestion by Mr. Bruce Hicks, of Ottawa, the present design of the Arms of Canada was drawn by Mrs. Cathy Bursey-Sabourin
Cathy Bursey-Sabourin
Cathy Bursey-Sabourin has been Fraser Herald at the Canadian Heraldic Authority in Ottawa since 1989. She is the principal artist of the Authority...

, Fraser Herald at the Canadian Heraldic Authority, Office of the Governor General of Canada, and faithfully depicts the arms described in the words of the Royal Proclamation dated 21 November 1921. It was approved in 1994 and shows a ribbon behind the shield with the motto of the Order of Canada. This version replaces a former design drawn by Mr. Alan Beddoe in 1957.".

In June 2008 MP Pat Martin
Pat Martin
Patrick "Pat" Martin is a Canadian politician. He has been a member of the Canadian House of Commons since 1997, representing the riding of Winnipeg Centre for the New Democratic Party.-Career:...

 introduced a motion
Motion (democracy)
A motion is a formal step to introduce a matter for consideration by a group. It is a common concept in the procedure of trade unions, students' unions, corporations, and other deliberative assemblies...

 into the House of Commons
Canadian House of Commons
The House of Commons of Canada is a component of the Parliament of Canada, along with the Sovereign and the Senate. The House of Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 308 members known as Members of Parliament...

 calling on the government to amend the coat of arms to incorporate symbols representing Canada's First Nations
First Nations
First Nations is a term that collectively refers to various Aboriginal peoples in Canada who are neither Inuit nor Métis. There are currently over 630 recognised First Nations governments or bands spread across Canada, roughly half of which are in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia. The...

, Inuit
Inuit
The Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Canada , Denmark , Russia and the United States . Inuit means “the people” in the Inuktitut language...

 and Métis
Métis people (Canada)
The Métis are one of the Aboriginal peoples in Canada who trace their descent to mixed First Nations parentage. The term was historically a catch-all describing the offspring of any such union, but within generations the culture syncretised into what is today a distinct aboriginal group, with...

 peoples.

Armorial evolution

1905 1921 1957 1994

Use



The arms are used as a mark of authority by various government agencies and representatives, including the Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Canada
The Prime Minister of Canada is the primary minister of the Crown, chairman of the Cabinet, and thus head of government for Canada, charged with advising the Canadian monarch or viceroy on the exercise of the executive powers vested in them by the constitution...

 and Cabinet
Cabinet of Canada
The Cabinet of Canada is a body of ministers of the Crown that, along with the Canadian monarch, and within the tenets of the Westminster system, forms the government of Canada...

, and most courts, including the Supreme Court
Supreme Court of Canada
The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court of Canada and is the final court of appeals in the Canadian justice system. The court grants permission to between 40 and 75 litigants each year to appeal decisions rendered by provincial, territorial and federal appellate courts, and its decisions...

. It is also present on all denominations of Canadian paper currency
Canadian dollar
The Canadian dollar is the currency of Canada. As of 2007, the Canadian dollar is the 7th most traded currency in the world. It is abbreviated with the dollar sign $, or C$ to distinguish it from other dollar-denominated currencies...

 (in fact, the way the Arms are printed on each bill is a security feature), as well as the 50 cent coin
50 Cent Piece (Canadian coin)
The fifty-cent piece is the common name of the Canadian coin worth 50 cents. It is sometimes referred to as a "half dollar." The coin's reverse depicts the coat of arms of Canada. At the opening ceremonies for the Ottawa branch of the Royal Mint, held on January 2, 1908, Governor General Earl Grey...

, and on the cover of Canadian passport
Canadian passport
A Canadian passport is a passport issued to citizens of Canada for the purpose of international travel; allowing the bearer to travel in foreign countries in accordance with visa requirements; facilitating the process of securing assistance from Canadian consular officials abroad, if necessary; and...

s. Since 1962, a banner of the arms, defaced
Defacement (flag)
Defacement is a term used in heraldry and vexillology to refer to the addition of a symbol or charge to another flag. For example, the Australian flag is the British Blue Ensign defaced with the Southern Cross in the fly and the Commonwealth Star in the lower hoist quarter, beneath the Union...

 with a variant of the Queen's cypher
Royal Cypher
In modern heraldry, a royal cypher is a monogram-like device of a country's reigning sovereign, typically consisting of the initials of the monarch's name and title, sometimes interwoven and often surmounted by a crown. In the case where such a cypher is used by an emperor or empress, it is called...

, has formed the Royal Standard of Canada
Queen's Personal Canadian Flag
The royal standards of Canada are personal standards, or official flags, employed to mark the presence of the bearer at any building or area or aboard any car, ship, or airplane, both in Canada and abroad. There are three royal standards, one each for the monarch, the Prince of Wales, and the Duke...

, for use by the sovereign in her capacity as monarch of Canada. In the Canadian Forces
Canadian Forces
The Canadian Forces , officially the Canadian Armed Forces , are the unified armed forces of Canada, as constituted by the National Defence Act, which states: "The Canadian Forces are the armed forces of Her Majesty raised by Canada and consist of one Service called the Canadian Armed Forces."...

 the ranks of Chief Warrant Officer
Chief Warrant Officer
Chief warrant officer is a military rank used by the Canadian Forces and the Israel Defence Forces.-Canada:In the Canadian Forces, a chief warrant officer or CWO is the most senior non-commissioned member rank in the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force...

 and Chief Petty Officer 1st Class
Chief Petty Officer 1st Class
Chief petty officer, 1st class, CPO1, is the most senior non-commissioned member rank of the Royal Canadian Navy. It is equivalent to a chief warrant officer in the Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force...

 wear the coat of arms as their symbol of rank.

The full achievement of the coat of arms has been used by the Canadian government on occasion on a plain red flag, such as in 1967 for the country's centennial celebrations
Canadian Centennial
The Canadian Centennial was a year long celebration held in 1967 when Canada celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation. Celebrations occurred throughout the year but culminated on Dominion Day, July 1. 1967 coins were different from previous years' issues, with animals on each...

.

The personal flag of the Governor General
Flag of the Governor General of Canada
The Flag of the Governor General of Canada was adopted in 1981. It features Canada's royal crest; a crowned lion holding a red maple leaf in its paw, standing on a wreath of the official colours of Canada , on a blue background...

 has, since 1981, featured the crest of Her Majesty's Royal Arms of Canada on a blue background.

In response to a new campaign by Bruce Hicks for the Canadian Parliament to have a distinct heraldic symbol(s) along the lines of the portcullis
Portcullis
A portcullis is a latticed grille made of wood, metal, fibreglass or a combination of the three. Portcullises fortified the entrances to many medieval castles, acting as a last line of defence during time of attack or siege...

 (variations of which are used by the Commons and Lords in the British Parliament), a proposal that was supported by Speakers of the House of Commons
Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons
The Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada is the presiding officer of the lower house of the Parliament of Canada and is elected at the beginning of each new parliament by fellow Members of Parliament...

 John Fraser
John Allen Fraser
John Allen Fraser, PC, OC, OBC, CD, QC is a retired Canadian parliamentarian and former Speaker of the House of Commons....

 and Gilbert Parent
Gilbert Parent
Gilbert "Gib" Parent, PC was a Canadian Member of Parliament. He is best known in his role of Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons between 1994 and 2001....

, a Commons committee was eventually struck following a motion by MP Derek Lee, before which Hicks and Robert Watt
Robert Watt
Robert Douglas Watt, LVO, FRHSC was the first Chief Herald of Canada. He was appointed at the foundation of the Canadian Heraldic Authority, and was succeeded by Claire Boudreau in 2007....

, the first Chief Herald of Canada
Chief Herald of Canada
Chief Herald of Canada is the title held by the head of the Canadian Heraldic Authority. The Chief Herald of Canada directs the operations of the Canadian Heraldic Authority and makes the grants of arms. There are exceptions to this, such as certain grants made directly by the Governor General. The...

, were called as the only two expert witnesses, though Senator Serge Joyal
Serge Joyal
Serge Joyal, PC, OC, OQ is a Canadian Senator. A lawyer by profession, Joyal served as vice-president of the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party of Canada...

 joined the committee ex-officio on behalf of the Senate. Commons' Speaker
Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons
The Speaker of the House of Commons of Canada is the presiding officer of the lower house of the Parliament of Canada and is elected at the beginning of each new parliament by fellow Members of Parliament...

 Peter Milliken
Peter Milliken
Peter Andrew Stewart Milliken, UE is a Canadian lawyer and politician. He was a member of the Canadian House of Commons from 1988 until his retirement in 2011 and served as Speaker of the House for 10 years beginning in 2001. Milliken represented the Ontario riding of Kingston and the Islands as a...

 then asked the Canadian Heraldic Authority to authorize such a symbol and, on 15 February 2008, the Governor General authorized the House of Commons to begin using a badge of the shield of Her Majesty's Royal Arms in right of Canada superimposed on the Ceremonial mace
Ceremonial mace
The ceremonial mace is a highly ornamented staff of metal or wood, carried before a sovereign or other high official in civic ceremonies by a mace-bearer, intended to represent the official's authority. The mace, as used today, derives from the original mace used as a weapon...

 assigned to the House of Commons as a symbol of the Royal authority under which it operates. Following the Commons example, the Senate then requested and obtained on 15 April 2008 a similar badge for itself with the shield of Her Majesty's Royal Arms surmounted on the mace
Ceremonial mace
The ceremonial mace is a highly ornamented staff of metal or wood, carried before a sovereign or other high official in civic ceremonies by a mace-bearer, intended to represent the official's authority. The mace, as used today, derives from the original mace used as a weapon...

 assigned to the Senate.

Blazon


The heraldic
Heraldry
Heraldry is the profession, study, or art of creating, granting, and blazoning arms and ruling on questions of rank or protocol, as exercised by an officer of arms. Heraldry comes from Anglo-Norman herald, from the Germanic compound harja-waldaz, "army commander"...

 blazon
Blazon
In heraldry and heraldic vexillology, a blazon is a formal description of a coat of arms, flag or similar emblem, from which the reader can reconstruct the appropriate image...

 of Canada's coat of arms is:

Tierced in fesse the first and second divisions containing the quarterly coat following, namely, 1st, gules
Gules
In heraldry, gules is the tincture with the colour red, and belongs to the class of dark tinctures called "colours". In engraving, it is sometimes depicted as a region of vertical lines or else marked with gu. as an abbreviation....

 three lions passant guardant in pale
Pale (heraldry)
A pale is a term used in heraldic blazon and vexillology to describe a charge on a coat of arms , that takes the form of a band running vertically down the center of the shield. Writers broadly agree that the width of the pale ranges from about one-fifth to about one-third of the width of the...

 Or
Or (heraldry)
In heraldry, Or is the tincture of gold and, together with argent , belongs to the class of light tinctures called "metals". In engravings and line drawings, it may be represented using a field of evenly spaced dots...

, 2nd, Or a lion rampant within a double tressure flory-counter-flory gules, 3rd, azure
Azure
In heraldry, azure is the tincture with the colour blue, and belongs to the class of tinctures called "colours". In engraving, it is sometimes depicted as a region of horizontal lines or else marked with either az. or b. as an abbreviation....

 a harp Or stringed argent
Argent
In heraldry, argent is the tincture of silver, and belongs to the class of light tinctures, called "metals". It is very frequently depicted as white and usually considered interchangeable with it...

, 4th, azure, three fleurs-de-lis Or, and the third division argent three maple leaves conjoined on one stem proper. And upon a royal helmet mantled argent doubled gules the crest, that is to say, on a wreath of the colours argent and gules a lion passant guardant Or imperially crowned proper and holding in the dexter paw a maple leaf gules. And for supporters on the dexter a lion rampant Or holding a lance argent, point Or, flying therefrom to the dexter the Union Flag
Union Flag
The Union Flag, also known as the Union Jack, is the flag of the United Kingdom. It retains an official or semi-official status in some Commonwealth Realms; for example, it is known as the Royal Union Flag in Canada. It is also used as an official flag in some of the smaller British overseas...

, and on the sinister a unicorn argent armed crined and unguled Or, gorged with a coronet composed of crosses-patée and fleurs-de-lis a chain affixed thereto reflexed of the last, and holding a like lance flying therefrom to the sinister a banner azure charged with three fleurs-de-lis Or; the whole ensigned with the Imperial Crown proper and below the shield upon a wreath composed of roses, thistles, shamrocks and lillies a scroll azure inscribed with the motto A mari usque ad mare.


The circlet of the Order of Canada
Order of Canada
The Order of Canada is a Canadian national order, admission into which is, within the system of orders, decorations, and medals of Canada, the second highest honour for merit...

 was added around the shield for limited use in 1987, and for general use in 1994.

Symbolism

Element Description Image
Crown The coat of arms are surmounted by a rendition of St. Edward's Crown
St. Edward's Crown
St Edward's Crown was one of the English Crown Jewels and remains one of the senior British Crown Jewels, being the official coronation crown used in the coronation of first English, then British, and finally Commonwealth realms monarchs...

, which has been used in the coronation
Coronation
A coronation is a ceremony marking the formal investiture of a monarch and/or their consort with regal power, usually involving the placement of a crown upon their head and the presentation of other items of regalia...

s of Canada's monarchs. This element represents Canada's status as a constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

 headed by a sovereign king or queen. This style of crown is that preferred by Queen Elizabeth II, and was modernized in 1957 from the 1921 design, which used the Tudor crown.
Crest The crest
Crest (heraldry)
A crest is a component of an heraldic display, so called because it stands on top of a helmet, as the crest of a jay stands on the bird's head....

 is based on the Royal Crest of the United Kingdom but differenced by the addition of a maple leaf, and symbolizes the sovereignty of Canada. It appears on the flag of the Governor-General
Flag of the Governor General of Canada
The Flag of the Governor General of Canada was adopted in 1981. It features Canada's royal crest; a crowned lion holding a red maple leaf in its paw, standing on a wreath of the official colours of Canada , on a blue background...

, symbolizing that the Governor General is a representative of the Sovereign. The crest consists of a crowned gold lion standing on a twisted wreath
Torse
In heraldry, a torse or wreath is a twisted roll of fabric laid about the top of the helm and the base of the crest, from which the mantling hangs....

 of red and white silk and holding a maple leaf in its right paw.
Helm The arms show a royal helmet, which is a barred helm of gold looking outward, with mantling
Mantling
In heraldry, mantling or lambrequin is drapery tied to the helmet above the shield. It forms a backdrop for the shield. In paper heraldry it is a depiction of the protective cloth covering worn by knights from their helmets to stave off the elements, and, secondarily, to decrease the effects of...

 of white and red, stylized in the official version to look like maple leaves.
Shield The shield is divided into five sections. The first division
Division of the field
In heraldry, the field of a shield can be divided into more than one area of different tinctures, usually following the lines of one of the ordinaries and carrying its name...

 at the viewer's top left contains the three golden lions
Lion (heraldry)
The lion is a common charge in heraldry. It traditionally symbolises bravery, valour, strength, and royalty, since traditionally, it is regarded as the king of beasts.-Attitudes:...

 that have been a symbol of England since at least the reign of King Richard I
Richard I of England
Richard I was King of England from 6 July 1189 until his death. He also ruled as Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Count of Nantes, and Overlord of Brittany at various times during the same period...

. The second quarter bears the red lion rampant
Charge (heraldry)
In heraldry, a charge is any emblem or device occupying the field of an escutcheon . This may be a geometric design or a symbolic representation of a person, animal, plant, object or other device...

 of Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 in a double tressure border with fleurs-de-lis
Fleur-de-lis
The fleur-de-lis or fleur-de-lys is a stylized lily or iris that is used as a decorative design or symbol. It may be "at one and the same time, political, dynastic, artistic, emblematic, and symbolic", especially in heraldry...

, used as a symbol of Scotland since at least the reign of William I
William I of Scotland
William the Lion , sometimes styled William I, also known by the nickname Garbh, "the Rough", reigned as King of the Scots from 1165 to 1214...

. The third quarter shows the Irish harp
Coat of arms of Ireland
The arms of Ireland is blazoned as Azure a harp Or, stringed Argent . These arms have long been Ireland's heraldic emblem. References to them as being the arms of the king of Ireland can be found as early as the 13th century...

 of Tara. The gold fleurs-de-lis of royal France, the first post-medieval
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 European emblem raised in Canada by Jacques Cartier
Jacques Cartier
Jacques Cartier was a French explorer of Breton origin who claimed what is now Canada for France. He was the first European to describe and map the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the shores of the Saint Lawrence River, which he named "The Country of Canadas", after the Iroquois names for the two big...

, during his landing at Gaspé, fill the fourth quarter.

The fifth charge
Charge (heraldry)
In heraldry, a charge is any emblem or device occupying the field of an escutcheon . This may be a geometric design or a symbolic representation of a person, animal, plant, object or other device...

, a sprig of red maple
Maple
Acer is a genus of trees or shrubs commonly known as maple.Maples are variously classified in a family of their own, the Aceraceae, or together with the Hippocastanaceae included in the family Sapindaceae. Modern classifications, including the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group system, favour inclusion in...

 leaves at the bottom, is a distinctly Canadian symbol that became gradually identified with the country throughout the 19th century. They were first proposed as a symbol in 1834, were established in 1868 on the arms of Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

 and Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

 and officially became the national emblem in 1965, with the proclamation of the Flag of Canada
Flag of Canada
The national flag of Canada, also known as the Maple Leaf, and , is a red flag with a white square in its centre, featuring a stylized 11-pointed red maple leaf. Its adoption in 1965 marked the first time a national flag had been officially adopted in Canada to replace the Union Flag...

. Initially, the leaves were depicted as coloured green on the coat of arms because it was thought to represent youth, as opposed to the red colour of dying leaves in autumn. However, they are blazoned as "proper," so could be shown as either red or green, and it is the blazon, rather than any depiction, which is regarded as authoritative. The leaves were later redrawn in official depictions in 1957 with the current colour to be in line with the official colours of Canada. They are further stylized in that natural maple leaves do not grow in sprigs of three. The shield forms the basis of the royal standard of Canada
Queen's Personal Canadian Flag
The royal standards of Canada are personal standards, or official flags, employed to mark the presence of the bearer at any building or area or aboard any car, ship, or airplane, both in Canada and abroad. There are three royal standards, one each for the monarch, the Prince of Wales, and the Duke...

.
Ribbon The ribbon is marked desiderantes meliorem patriam, meaning "desiring a better country," which is the motto of the Order of Canada
Order of Canada
The Order of Canada is a Canadian national order, admission into which is, within the system of orders, decorations, and medals of Canada, the second highest honour for merit...

, taken from Hebrews
Epistle to the Hebrews
The Epistle to the Hebrews is one of the books in the New Testament. Its author is not known.The primary purpose of the Letter to the Hebrews is to exhort Christians to persevere in the face of persecution. The central thought of the entire Epistle is the doctrine of the Person of Christ and his...

 11:16. This component was added by the Queen in 1987 on the advice
Advice (constitutional)
Advice, in constitutional law, is formal, usually binding, instruction given by one constitutional officer of state to another. Especially in parliamentary systems of government, Heads of state often act on the basis of advice issued by prime ministers or other government ministers...

 of her Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Canada
The Prime Minister of Canada is the primary minister of the Crown, chairman of the Cabinet, and thus head of government for Canada, charged with advising the Canadian monarch or viceroy on the exercise of the executive powers vested in them by the constitution...

. With the patriation of oversight of arms to Canada through the Canadian Heraldic Authority
Canadian Heraldic Authority
The Canadian Heraldic Authority is part of the Canadian honours system under the Queen of Canada, whose authority is exercised by the Governor General. The Authority is responsible for the creation and granting of new coats of arms , flags and badges for Canadian citizens, permanent residents and...

 the following year, the constitution of the Order of Canada
Order of Canada
The Order of Canada is a Canadian national order, admission into which is, within the system of orders, decorations, and medals of Canada, the second highest honour for merit...

 was amended to include entitlement by all recipients to encircle their own arms with the ribbon, if arms are granted to them. Since 1994 the arms used by government ministers and institutions have slowly changed to reflect the new version with the ribbon.
Motto The motto
Motto
A motto is a phrase meant to formally summarize the general motivation or intention of a social group or organization. A motto may be in any language, but Latin is the most used. The local language is usual in the mottoes of governments...

 of Canada is in Latin a mari usque ad mare (From sea to sea), a part of Psalm
Psalms
The Book of Psalms , commonly referred to simply as Psalms, is a book of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Bible...

 72:8. This phrase was suggested by Joseph Pope
Joseph Pope
Sir Joseph Pope, KCMG CVO ISO was a Canadian public servant. He was Private Secretary to Sir John A. Macdonald from 1882 to 1891 and Assistant Clerk to the Privy Council & Under Secretary of State for Canada from 1896 to 1926.He married Marie-Louise-Joséphine-Henriette Taschereau in...

, then-Under Secretary of State, when the Arms were redesigned in 1921. The motto was originally used in 1906 on the head of the mace of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan
Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan
The 25th Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan was in power from 2003 until November 20, 2007. It was controlled by the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party under premier Lorne Calvert.-Members:-By-elections:...

.

In March 2006, the premiers of Canada's three territories called for the amendment of the motto to better reflect the vast geographic nature of Canada's territory, as Canada has coastlines on the Arctic
Arctic Ocean
The Arctic Ocean, located in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Arctic north polar region, is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five major oceanic divisions...

, Atlantic
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

, and Pacific Oceans. Two suggestions for a new motto are A mari ad mare ad mare (from sea to sea to sea) and A mari usque ad maria (from the sea to the other seas).
Supporters Supporting
Supporters
In heraldry, supporters are figures usually placed on either side of the shield and depicted holding it up. These figures may be real or imaginary animals, human figures, and in rare cases plants or inanimate objects...

 the shield on either side are the English lion and Scottish unicorn
Unicorn
The unicorn is a legendary animal from European folklore that resembles a white horse with a large, pointed, spiraling horn projecting from its forehead, and sometimes a goat's beard...

, which are also the supporters of the UK coat of arms
Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom
The Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom is the official coat of arms of the British monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II. These arms are used by the Queen in her official capacity as monarch of the United Kingdom, and are officially known as her Arms of Dominion...

. The English lion stands on the viewer's left and holds a gold-pointed silver lance flying the Union Flag
Union Flag
The Union Flag, also known as the Union Jack, is the flag of the United Kingdom. It retains an official or semi-official status in some Commonwealth Realms; for example, it is known as the Royal Union Flag in Canada. It is also used as an official flag in some of the smaller British overseas...

. The Scottish unicorn has a gold horn, a gold mane, gold hooves, and around its neck a gold, chained coronet
Coronet
A coronet is a small crown consisting of ornaments fixed on a metal ring. Unlike a crown, a coronet never has arches.The word stems from the Old French coronete, a diminutive of coronne , itself from the Latin corona .Traditionally, such headgear is – as indicated by the German equivalent...

 of crosses and fleurs-de-lis; it holds a lance flying the three gold fleurs-de-lis of royal France on a blue background. Unlike the British version, the lion is not crowned, nor is it facing the viewer. The broken chain on the unicorn symbolizes the unicorn's resistance to oppression. According to art historian Kenneth Clark
Kenneth Clark
Kenneth McKenzie Clark, Baron Clark, OM, CH, KCB, FBA was a British author, museum director, broadcaster, and one of the best-known art historians of his generation...

, the lion represents ferocity and the unicorn represents lust. According to Robertson Davies
Robertson Davies
William Robertson Davies, CC, OOnt, FRSC, FRSL was a Canadian novelist, playwright, critic, journalist, and professor. He was one of Canada's best-known and most popular authors, and one of its most distinguished "men of letters", a term Davies is variously said to have gladly accepted for himself...

 in his book The Manticore
The Manticore
The Manticore is the second novel in Robertson Davies' Deptford Trilogy.Published in 1972 by Macmillan of Canada, it deals with the aftermath of the mysterious death of Percy Boyd "Boy" Staunton retold during a series of conversations between Staunton's son and a Jungian psychoanalyst.The title...

, the Canadian arms had toned down the genital aspects of the lion and the unicorn, who in previous times had been represented with what Davies called "saucy pizzles."
Compartment The entire coat of arms rests on the compartment, which is made up of the floral emblems of the founding countries whose royal arms were incorporated into the design of the shield. The Tudor rose
Tudor rose
The Tudor Rose is the traditional floral heraldic emblem of England and takes its name and origins from the Tudor dynasty.-Origins:...

 is the floral badge of England (and Wales), combining the White Rose of York
White Rose of York
The White Rose of York , a white heraldic rose, is the symbol of the House of York and has since been adopted as a symbol of Yorkshire as a whole.-History:...

 and the Red Rose of Lancaster
Red Rose of Lancaster
The Red Rose of Lancaster is the county flower of Lancashire.The exact species or cultivar which the red rose relates to is uncertain, but it is thought to be Rosa gallica officinalis....

. The thistle
Thistle
Thistle is the common name of a group of flowering plants characterised by leaves with sharp prickles on the margins, mostly in the family Asteraceae. Prickles often occur all over the plant – on surfaces such as those of the stem and flat parts of leaves. These are an adaptation that protects the...

 and shamrock
Shamrock
The shamrock is a three-leafed old white clover. It is known as a symbol of Ireland. The name shamrock is derived from Irish , which is the diminutive version of the Irish word for clover ....

 are the symbols of Scotland and Ireland, respectively, while the fleur-de-lis
Fleur-de-lis
The fleur-de-lis or fleur-de-lys is a stylized lily or iris that is used as a decorative design or symbol. It may be "at one and the same time, political, dynastic, artistic, emblematic, and symbolic", especially in heraldry...

 has been the royal symbol of France since the 12th century.

Legal


The coat of arms is protected under the Trade-marks Act, which states that "No person shall adopt in connection with a business, as a trade-mark or otherwise, any mark consisting of, or so nearly resembling as to be likely to be mistaken for,... the arms, crest or flag adopted and used at any time by Canada..."

See also


  • Flag of Canada
    Flag of Canada
    The national flag of Canada, also known as the Maple Leaf, and , is a red flag with a white square in its centre, featuring a stylized 11-pointed red maple leaf. Its adoption in 1965 marked the first time a national flag had been officially adopted in Canada to replace the Union Flag...

  • List of Canadian provincial and territorial symbols
  • Great Seal of Canada
    Great Seal of Canada
    The Great Seal of Canada is a seal used for official purposes of state in Canada such as the certification of Acts of Parliament that have been granted Royal Assent....

  • Gallery of country coats of arms
    Gallery of country coats of arms
    This gallery of country coats of arms shows the coat of arms, an emblem serving a similar purpose or both of each of the countries in the list of countries.See also=...

  • Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom
    Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom
    The Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom is the official coat of arms of the British monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II. These arms are used by the Queen in her official capacity as monarch of the United Kingdom, and are officially known as her Arms of Dominion...

  • English claims to the French throne
    English claims to the French throne
    The English claims to the French throne have a long and complex history between the 1340s and the 19th century.From 1340 to 1801, with only brief intervals in 1360-1369 and 1420–1422, the kings and queens of England, and after the Acts of Union in 1707 the kings and queens of Great Britain, also...

  • New France
    New France
    New France was the area colonized by France in North America during a period beginning with the exploration of the Saint Lawrence River by Jacques Cartier in 1534 and ending with the cession of New France to Spain and Great Britain in 1763...

  • British North America
    British North America
    British North America is a historical term. It consisted of the colonies and territories of the British Empire in continental North America after the end of the American Revolutionary War and the recognition of American independence in 1783.At the start of the Revolutionary War in 1775 the British...


External links