National symbols of Canada

National symbols of Canada are the symbols that are used in Canada and abroad to represent the country and its people. Prominently, the use of the maple leaf as a Canadian symbol dates back to the early 18th century, and is depicted on its current and previous flags, the penny, and on the coat of arms (or royal arms). Other prominent symbols include the sports of hockey and lacrosse, the beaver, Canadian Goose, Canadian horse, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canadian Rockies,[1] and more recently the totem pole and Inuksuk.[2] With material items such as Canadian beer, maple syrup and poutine being defined as uniquely Canadian.[2]

The Crown symbolizes the Canadian monarchy,[3] and appears on the coat of arms (used by parliamentarians and government ministries), the flag of the Governor General,[3] the coats of arms of many provinces and territories; the badges of several federal departments, the Canadian Armed Forces and Royal Military College of Canada, many regiments, and other police forces; on buildings, as well as some highway signs and licence plates. Also, the Queen's image appears in Canadian government buildings, military installations and schools; and on Canadian stamps, $20 bank notes, and all coins.

List of symbols

Canada does not have a floral emblem,[4] and the maple leaf, Royal anthem, mounted police and Great Seal are unofficial "De facto" symbols.[5]

Symbol Image Notes
National flag[6] Flag of Canada Official symbol as of February 15, 1965[6]
Royal standard[3] Royal Standard of Canada Royal symbol - adopted and proclaimed by Queen Elizabeth II in 1962 for her use in her capacity as Queen of Canada.[7]
Viceregal standard
Flag of the Governor-General of Canada
Royal symbol adopted 1981 - curent version 2005[8]
Royal cypher[3] Royal Cypher of Queen Elizabeth II Royal symbol since1952[9]
Royal arms[6][10] Official symbol as of November 21, 1921 (current version 1994)[6]
Great Seal[5] Great Seal of Canada De facto symbol since 1867 - (current version November 14, 1955).[5]
National anthem[6] O Canada
"O Canada"
"O Canada"
Official since July 1, 1980 (song dates to 1880)[6]
Royal anthem[3] Gstk
"God Save the Queen"
"God Save the Queen"
De facto Royal anthem that dates to 1745[11]
A Mari Usque Ad Mare
(From sea to sea)
Officially adopted November 21, 1921[6]
National colours[6]



Official symbol as of November 21, 1921 by order of King George V[6]
National tree[6] Bi-colored Maple Tree
Official symbol since 1996[6]
Additional national symbol[5] Autumn leaves (pantone) crop
Maple leaf
De facto symbol since 1700s[5]
National animals[6] Castor canadensis
Official symbol since 1975[6]
IMG 3351 M trot
Canadian horse
Official symbol since 2002[6]
National sport[6][12] Lacrosse dive shot
Lacrosse (summer)
Officially adopted on May 12, 1994[6]
Ottawa 67s v Sudbury Wolves Sep 30 2004
Ice hockey (winter)
Officially adopted on May 12, 1994[6]
National tartan[6] Maple leaf tartan
Maple Leaf Tartan
Officially adopted on March 9, 2011[6]
Royal Canadian Mounted Police[6] At the RCMP stables in Ottawa
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officer
De facto symbol since 1920[5]

National bird

a Gray Jay (Perisoreus canadensis), Algonquin Provincial Park, Canada.

In January 2015, The Royal Canadian Geographical Society's magazine, Canadian Geographic, announced a project to select a national bird for Canada, a designation which the country has never formally recognized.[13] Dubbed the National Bird Project, the organization conducted an online poll inviting Canadians to vote for their favourite bird.[14] The poll closed on 31 August 2016, and a panel of experts convened the following month to review the top five selections: the grey jay, common loon (Gavia immer), snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus), Canada goose (Branta canadensis) and black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus).[15] The project announced on 16 November 2016 that the grey jay was selected as the winner of the contest.[16][17] Organizers hoped for the Canadian government to formally recognize the result as part of Canada's sesquicentennial celebrations in 2017, however the Department of Canadian Heritage responded that no new official symbol proposals were being considered at the time.[18]

See also


  1. ^ Canadian Heritage (2002). Symbols of andCanada. Canadian Government Publishing. ISBN 978-0-660-18615-3.
  2. ^ a b Sociology in Action, Canadian Edition, 2nd ed. Nelson Education-McGraw-Hill Education. p. 92. ISBN 978-0-17-672841-0.
  3. ^ a b c d e "The Crown in Canada". Department of Canadian Heritage. Archived from the original on 2011-08-27. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
  4. ^ "Floral Emblems of Canada – A Bouquet". Canadian Heritage. 21 March 2009. Archived from the original on 30 May 2013. Retrieved 2013-04-03.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Unofficial symbols of Canada". The Department of Canadian Heritage. Retrieved 2019-01-01.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u "Official symbols of Canada". Government of Canada. 2017.
  7. ^ Heritage, Canadian (11 August 2017). "Canadian flags of the Royal Family". aem.
  8. ^ General, The Office of the Secretary to the Governor. "Governor General of Canada [Civil Institution]".
  9. ^ Heritage, Canadian (11 August 2017). "Royal Crown and Cypher". aem.
  10. ^ "The arms of Canada". Department of Canadian Heritage. Archived from the original on 2009-02-28. Retrieved 2011-07-27.
  11. ^ Heritage, Canadian (11 August 2017). "Royal Anthem". aem. 'O Canada' and 'God Save the Queen'/'Dieu sauve la Reine' were approved by Parliament in 1967 as Canada's national and royal anthems. However, legislation to this effect was passed only in 1980, and applied only to 'O Canada.'
  12. ^ "National Sports of Canada Act, CHAPTER N-16.7". Code of Canada. Government of Canada. 12 May 1994. Archived from the original on 19 April 2012.
  13. ^ Austen, Ian (6 December 2016). "A Proposal for a Canadian National Bird Ruffles Feathers". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
  14. ^ Galloway, Gloria (22 January 2015). "Race is on to pick the national bird of Canada". The Globe and Mail. Ottawa. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  15. ^ "National Bird Project". Canadian Geographic. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  16. ^ "Step aside, loon: Geographic society plucks grey jay as Canada's national bird". Bell Media Television. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  17. ^ Stone, Laura (16 November 2016). "Grey jay gets nod for Canada's national bird". The Globe and Mail.
  18. ^ Sanderson, Blair (2 July 2017). "Canada isn't getting a national bird after all". CBC News. Retrieved 11 June 2018.

Further reading

  • Ross, David; Hook, Richard (1988). The Royal Canadian Mounted Police 1873–1987. London: Osprey. ISBN 0-85045-834-X.
  • Hutchins, Donna; Hutchins, Nigel (2006). The Maple Leaf Forever: A Celebration of Canadian Symbols. Erin: The Boston Mills Press. ISBN 978-1-55046-474-0.

External links

A Mari Usque Ad Mare

A Mari Usque Ad Mare (English: From Sea to Sea; French: D'un océan à l'autre [ˈd͡zʏn͜ ˈɔ͜ ˈa ˈlou̯tʁ]; Latin: A Marī Ūsque Ad Mare [ˈa maˈriː ˈuːsqᶣɛ ˈad ˈmarɛ]) is the Canadian national motto. The phrase comes from the Latin Vulgate translation of Psalm 72:8 in the Bible:

"Et dominabitur a mari usque ad mare, et a flumine usque ad terminos terrae"(King James Bible: "He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth").

Acer saccharum

Acer saccharum, the sugar maple or rock maple, is a species of maple native to the hardwood forests of eastern Canada, from Nova Scotia west through southern Quebec, central and southern Ontario to southeastern Manitoba around Lake of the Woods, and the northern parts of the Central and Eastern United States, from Minnesota eastward to the highlands of the upper eastern states and the interior Midwest. Sugar maple is best known for its bright fall foliage and for being the primary source of maple syrup.

Box lacrosse

Box lacrosse, also known as boxla, box, or indoor lacrosse, is an indoor version of lacrosse played mostly in North America. The game originated in Canada in the 1930s, where it is more popular than field lacrosse and is the national summer sport. Box lacrosse is played between two teams of five players and one goalie each, and is traditionally played on an ice hockey rink once the ice has been removed or covered. The playing area is called a box, in contrast to the open playing field of field lacrosse. The object of the game is to use a lacrosse stick to catch, carry, and pass the ball in an effort to score by shooting a solid rubber lacrosse ball into the opponent's goal.

The highest levels of box lacrosse are the National Lacrosse League, Arena Lacrosse League, and Senior A divisions of the Canadian Lacrosse Association - Western Lacrosse Association and Major Series Lacrosse. There are also several Senior B leagues sanctioned by both the CLA and First Nations Lacrosse Association.

While there are 62 total members of World Lacrosse, only fifteen have competed in international box lacrosse competition. Only Canada, the Iroquois Nationals and the United States have finished in the top three places at the World Indoor Lacrosse Championships.

Canadian Duality Flag

The Canadian Duality Flag (French: Drapeau de la dualité canadienne; also called the Canadian Unity Flag) is an unofficial flag that was originally circulated to demonstrate the unity of Canada during the lead-up to the 1995 Quebec referendum, at rallies for the "no" side. The Duality Flag design was chosen to represent explicitly the Francophone and Anglophone populations on the national flag by adding blue stripes to the red sections, roughly in proportion to the number of Canadians who are primarily French-speaking. The blue was chosen as it is the main colour that is used on the flag of Quebec.

Canadian Parliamentary Flag Program

See Parliament of Canada for an overall explanation of the functioning and composition of the Parliament of Canada

See Department of Canadian Heritage for an overall explanation of the responsibilities of the Department of Canadian HeritageThe objective of the Canadian Parliamentary Flag Program is to enable Canadian parliamentarians, from both Senate and House of Commons, to promote national symbols and to encourage Canadians to express pride in their symbols.

In December 1972, Cabinet approved a program under which senators and members of the House of Commons of Canada would receive flags and flag pins for distribution to constituents. An annual quota was established and the Canadian Parliamentary Flag Program went into effect on April 1, 1973.

Canadian Red Ensign

The Canadian Red Ensign was the flag of Canada until 1965, when it was replaced by the current Maple Leaf flag. It is a British red ensign, featuring the UK's flag in the canton, adorned with the shield of the coat of arms of Canada.

Canadian horse

The Canadian horse is a horse breed from Canada. It is a strong, well-muscled breed of horse, usually dark in colour. The horses are generally used for riding and driving. Descended from draft and light riding horses imported to Canada in the late 1600s, it was later crossed with other British and American breeds. During the 18th century the Canadian horse spread throughout the northeastern US, where it contributed to the development of several horse breeds. During the peak popularity of the breed, three subtypes could be distinguished, a draft horse type, a trotting type and a pacing type. Thousands of horses were exported in the 19th century, many of whom were subsequently killed while acting as cavalry horses in the American Civil War. These exports decreased the purebred Canadian population almost to the point of extinction, prompting the formation of a studbook and the passage of a law against further export.

Experimental breeding programs in the early 20th century succeeded in re-establishing the breed to some extent, but mechanization, combined with two world wars, again resulted in the breed almost becoming extinct. In the 1980s, concerned with the declining population numbers, interested breeders undertook a promotional program, which resulted in renewed interest in the breed. By the 1990s, population numbers were higher, and genetic studies in 1998 and 2012 found relatively high levels of genetic diversity for a small breed. However, livestock conservation organizations still consider the breed to be at risk, due to low population numbers.

Canadian royal symbols

Canadian royal symbols are the visual and auditory identifiers of the Canadian monarchy, including the viceroys, in the country's federal and provincial jurisdictions. These may specifically distinguish organizations that derive their authority from the Crown (such as parliament or police forces), establishments with royal associations, or merely be ways of expressing loyal or patriotic sentiment.

Most royal symbols in Canada are based on inherited predecessors from France, England, and Scotland, the evidence of which is still visible today, though, over time, adaptations have been made to include uniquely Canadian elements. Some representations were discarded during and after the 1970s, within an evolving Canadian identity, while others were created over the same time and continue to be up to the present. Today, symbols of the monarchy can be seen in military badges, provincial and national coats of arms, royal prefixes, monuments, and eponymous names of geographical locations and structures.

Federal Identity Program

The Federal Identity Program (FIP) is the Government of Canada's corporate identity program. The purpose of the FIP is to provide to the public a consistent and unified image for federal government projects and activities. Other objectives of the program include facilitating public access to federal programs and services, promoting the equal status of the two official languages, and achieving better management of the federal identity. Managed by the Treasury Board Secretariat, this program, and the government's communication policy, help to shape the public image of the government. In general, logos – or, in the parlance of the policy, visual identifiers – used by government departments other than those specified in the FIP must be approved by the Treasury Board.

Flag of Canada

The flag of Canada (French: le drapeau du Canada), often referred to as the Canadian flag, or unofficially as the Maple Leaf and l'Unifolié (French for "the one-leafed"), is a national flag consisting of a red field with a white square at its centre in the ratio of 1:2:1, in the middle of which is featured a stylized, red, 11-pointed maple leaf charged in the centre. It is the first flag approved by Parliament for use as the country's national flag.

In 1964, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson formed a committee to resolve the ongoing issue of the lack of an official Canadian flag, sparking a serious debate about a flag change to replace the Union Flag. Out of three choices, the maple leaf design by George Stanley, based on the flag of the Royal Military College of Canada, was selected. The flag made its first official appearance on February 15, 1965; the date is now celebrated annually as National Flag of Canada Day.

The Canadian Red Ensign was unofficially used since the 1890s and approved by a 1945 Order in Council for use "wherever place or occasion may make it desirable to fly a distinctive Canadian flag". Also, the Royal Union Flag remains an official flag in Canada. There is no law dictating how the national flag is to be treated, but there are conventions and protocols to guide how it is to be displayed and its place in the order of precedence of flags, which gives it primacy over the aforementioned and most other flags.

Many different flags created for use by Canadian officials, government bodies, and military forces contain the maple leaf motif in some fashion, either by having the Canadian flag charged in the canton, or by including maple leaves in the design.

Great Seal of Canada

The Great Seal of Canada (French: Grand Sceau du Canada) is a governmental seal used for purposes of state in Canada, being set on letters patent, proclamations and commissions, both to representatives of the Queen and for the appointment of cabinet ministers, senators, and judges. Many other officials, such as officers in the Canadian Armed Forces, receive commissions affixed with the Privy Seal, not the great seal. It is not for sealing up a document as letters close. Although not an official symbol of Canada the seal is one of the oldest and most honoured instruments of the Canadian government.

Johnny Canuck

Johnny Canuck is a Canadian cartoon hero and superhero who was created as a political cartoon in 1869 and was later re-invented, most notably as a Second World War action hero in 1942. The Vancouver Canucks, a professional ice hockey team in the National Hockey League (NHL), currently use a lumberjack rendition of Johnny Canuck as one of their team logos.

Lacrosse in Canada

Modern lacrosse in Canada has been a popular sport since the mid 1800s. Only field lacrosse was played until the 1930s, when box lacrosse was invented. Lacrosse was declared Canada's national game in 1859. However, in 1994, Canadian Parliament passed Canada's National Sport Act, which made lacrosse the national summer sport, and hockey the national winter sport.

Maple leaf

The maple leaf is the characteristic leaf of the maple tree, and is the most widely recognized "De Facto" national symbol of Canada.

National colours of Canada

The national colours of Canada (French: Couleurs nationales du Canada) were declared by King George V in 1921 to be red and white and are most prominently evident on the country's national flag. Red is symbolic of England and white of France, the colours having been used representatively by those countries in the past. The maple is one of the national symbols and red is the first leaf colour after spring budding & also the autumn colour of maple leaves.

North American beaver

The North American beaver (Castor canadensis) is one of two extant beaver species. It is native to North America and introduced to Patagonia in South America and some European countries (e.g. Finland). In the United States and Canada, the species is often referred to simply as "beaver", though this causes some confusion because another distantly related rodent, Aplodontia rufa, is often called the "mountain beaver". Other vernacular names, including American beaver and Canadian beaver, distinguish this species from the other extant beaver species, Castor fiber, which is native to Eurasia. The North American beaver is an official animal symbol of Canada and is the official state mammal of Oregon.

Regional tartans of Canada

All of Canada's provinces and territories, except for Nunavut, have regional tartans, as do many other regional divisions in Canada. Tartans were first brought to Canada by Scottish settlers; the first province to adopt one officially was Nova Scotia in 1956 (when registered at the Court of the Lord Lyon; adopted by law in 1963), and the most recent province was Ontario, in 2000. Except for the tartan of Quebec, all of the provincial and territorial tartans are officially recognized and registered in the books of the Court of the Lord Lyon, King of Arms of Scotland. The tartan for Canada as a whole is known as the maple leaf tartan and became an official national symbol in 2011.

St Edward's Crown

St Edward's Crown is the centrepiece of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. Named after Saint Edward the Confessor, it has been traditionally used to crown English and British monarchs at their coronations since the 13th century.

The original crown was a holy relic kept at Westminster Abbey, Edward's burial place, until the regalia were either sold or melted down after Parliament abolished the monarchy in 1649, during the English Civil War.

The present version of St Edward's Crown was made for Charles II in 1661. It is solid gold, 30 centimetres (12 in) tall, weighs 2.23 kilograms (4.9 lb), and is decorated with 444 precious and semi-precious stones. The crown is similar in weight and overall appearance to the original, but its arches are Baroque.

After 1689, it was not used to crown a monarch for over 200 years. In 1911, the tradition was revived by George V, and all subsequent monarchs have been crowned using St Edward's Crown. A stylised image of this crown is used on coats of arms, badges, logos and various other insignia in the Commonwealth realms to symbolise the royal authority of Queen Elizabeth II.

St Edward's Crown is on public display in the Jewel House at the Tower of London.

Vive la Canadienne

Vive la Canadienne was the national anthem of the French Canadians in Quebec before it was replaced by O Canada. According to Ernest Gagnon, it was based on an old French tune, Par derrièr' chez mon père.It is the quick march of the Royal 22nd Regiment.

Symbols of Canada (by province or territory)
and territories
Article overviews
National symbols of North America
Sovereign states

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