Coat of Arms of Canada

From Academic Kids

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Coat of Arms of Canada (from 1994)

The Royal Coat of Arms of Canada was proclaimed by King George V on November 21, 1921, as the Arms or Ensigns Armorial of the Dominion of Canada.

Canada's coat of arms is very closely modeled after the Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom. The UK and Canada have perhaps the most similar coats of arms of any two nations.




The shield has five elements:

The first quarter at the viewer's top left contains the three lions that have been of symbol of England for centuries.

The second quarter bears the Red Scottish lion in a double border with fleurs-de-lis,

The third quarter shows the Irish harp of Tara. Legend states that this golden harp with silver strings was used in royal banquets at Tara, a capital of ancient Ireland, and was later given to Henry VIII by the pope during his attempt to succeed to the Irish throne.

The gold fleurs-de-lis of royal France, the first European emblem raised in Canada by Jacques Cartier during his landing at Gasp, fills the fourth quadrant.

The fifth element, a sprig of red maple leaves at the bottom is a distinctly Canadian symbol that became gradually identified with the country throughout the 19th century. Initially, the leaves were 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. The leaves were later redrawn with the current colour to be in line with the official colours of Canada. (They are blazoned "proper," so could be depicted as being any natural colour of maple leaf.)


The ribbon is marked desiderantes meliorem patriam, meaning "they desire a better country." It is the motto of the Order of Canada. This component of the arms was added in 1994 by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister. (In 1987, a new Canadian "law of arms" was created, which included the rule that the motto of the Order of Canada would be included around the personal coat of arms of any Canadian who received this honour. This meant that the Canadian coat of arms, when used to represent the Queen personally, would include a ribbon with the motto.)


The arms show a royal helmet, which is a barred helm of gold looking outward, straight towards the viewer, and draped in a mantle of white and red which are the official colours of Canada.

Crest and Crown

The crest is used to mark the soveregnty of Canada, and appears on the Governor-General's Standard.

It consists of a crowned gold lion standing on a twisted wreath or ring of red and white silk and holding a maple leaf in its right paw. Above the crest is St Edward's Crown, the style preferred by Her Majesty. (See the article on the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom for a discussion of different styles of crown historically used in the Commonwealth.)

The 1921 design was a Tudor crown, and the style was modernised to its current form in 1957.


Supporting the shield on either side are the English lion and Scottish unicorn, which are also the supporters of the UK coat of arms. The lion stands on the viewer's left and holds a gold-pointed silver lance flying the Union Jack. The unicorn has a gold horn, a gold mane, gold hooves, and around its neck a gold, chained coronet 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, neither supporter is crowned.


The motto of Canada is a mari usque ad mare ("from sea to sea"), a part of Psalm 72:8 ( This phrase was first suggested by Samuel Leonard Tilley, a father of confederation. (See the list of state mottos.)

Floral Emblems

At the base of the arms are roses, thistles, shamrocks, and fleurs-de-lis, the floral emblems associated with England, Scotland, Ireland, and France respectively.


The heraldic blazon of Canada's coat of arms, proclaimed in 1921 was:

Tierced in fesse the first and second divisions containing the quarterly coat following, namely, 1st Gules three lions passant guardant in pale or, 2nd, Or a lion rampant within a double tressure flory-counter-flory gules, 3rd, Azure a harp or stringed argent, 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, and on the sinister A unicorn argent armed crined and unguled or, gorged with a coronet composed of crosses-pate 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.

Since then the collar of the Order of Canada has been added behind the shield.

Armorial Evolution

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When the Dominion of Canada was formed in 1867 each of the four provinces was granted arms, but the Dominion itself was not. Instead the provincial arms were quartered for federal use.

The practical idea of a coat of arms is to easily and quickly identify the bearer. As new provinces joined the Confederation their arms were added, and the Dominion's soon became cluttered and unsuitable heraldically and practically. This is seen in the image of a postcard from 1904, when there were seven provinces; a year later there were nine.

King George V granted new arms in 1921. The official painted version, made by English heralds, had "fluttering" standards and the maple leaves were green.

In 1957 a new version painted by Commander Alan Beddoe was adopted. It showed red leaves, as Prime Minister Borden had intended, and the banners were redrawn.

The differences result from artistic licence, with two different artists' interpreting the official written description, or blazon. The leaves were described as "proper" so any colour could be used if it is proper for maple leaves in the wild, so green red or gold could be used for spring, summer or autumn leaves.

Redrawing the mantling as if cut into maple leaves, rather than the traditional British slashed cloak was artistic licence, placing the Motto of the Order of Canada was an "heraldic additament". Such a change needed Royal approval, which was given in 1994 when a new official emblazon was painted, and introduced gradually so as to minimise the expense of the changeover.

Other Canadian Coats of Arms

Alberta - British Columbia - Manitoba - New Brunswick - Newfoundland and Labrador - Northwest Territories - Nova Scotia - Nunavut - Ontario - Quebec - Prince Edward Island - Saskatchewan - Yukon

See also

External link

The Heraldry Series

Crest | Compartment | Field | Line | Mantling | Shield | Supporters | Tincture

Argent | Azure | Carnation | Celeste | Cendrée | Gules | Murrey | Or | Purpure | Sable | Sanguine | Tenné | Vert

Bend | Chevron | Chief | Cross | Fess | Fillet | Flaunch | Pall | Pale | Quarter | Saltire

he:סמל קנדה

pl:Godło Kanady fr:Armoiries du Canada de:Wappen von Kanada pt:Braso de armas do Canad zh:加拿大國徽


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