Coat of Arms

THE ARMS OF CANADA

Armorial bearings came into use as a means of identification. In the Middle Ages, Coats of Arms served as a form of identification card, particularly on the battlefield where they made it possible to distinguish friend from foe.

In the Middle Ages, people had fine artistic perceptions; they loved bright colours and used them tastefully. Red was a symbol of courage, black of nobility, blue of beauty, purple of power and green of liberty. As for gold, it represented wealth, while white represented innocence.

Images too play an important symbolic role in Coats of Arms. The rose represents England, the lily-France, the thistle-Scotland, the shamrock-Ireland and the leek-Wales. A much more recent addition is the maple leaf, which represents Canada.

Coats of Arms are essential to preserving traditions and inspiring love of country. In many cases, the flag, which is more frequently used, is founded on the Coat of Arms.

The Arms of Canada were approved on April 30, 1921 by Order in Council and were modified in 1957 to produce a more contemporary design. The Tudor crown of the original 1921 design was replaced by a crown that would represent not just one of the royal families of English monarchs, but centuries of kings and queens of England. To comply with the wish of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Saint Edward's crown is now used for the Arms of Canada. It is the crown that has been used for the coronation of kings and queens in Westminster Abbey for centuries.

Finally, on July 12, 1994, Her Majesty the Queen approved certain changes, one of which was to add the motto of the Order of Canada: Desiderantes Meliorem Patriam (they desire a better country).

The Arms of Canada are used on federal government possessions such as buildings, official seals, money, passports, proclamations and publications. They are also reproduced on the rank badges of some members of the Canadian Forces. The Arms of Canada are used as well by such federal institutions as the Supreme Court of Canada, the Federal Court of Canada and the Tax Court of Canada to symbolize their judicial independence from the Government of Canada.