Coat of Arms of the New Governor General

1 10 2010

The Canadian Heraldric Authority grants coats of arms to individuals and corporations in Canada. It is based in Rideau Hall and reports to the Governor General.

Any Canadian citizen or corporate body can petition for a grant of new arms or registration of existing arms. Eligibility for a grant of arms is based on an individual’s contributions to the community.  Only those with a grant from the Authority are allowed to use coats of arms in Canada.

The authority has released an image of the coat of arms of the new Governor General, David Johnston. It looks good.

The Authority has also issued an explanation of the different elements of the design, telling us what they mean and how they relate to Dr. Johnston’s life. For instance, we learn that the unicorns

represent dreams, vision, and imagination. They are also a Christian symbol and an emblem of purity, and can therefore represent integrity and faithfulness. Their red colour represents Canada.

The text also says that:

The astrolabes on their shoulders are symbols of exploration, including the idea of intellectual exploration. They allude to the history of Canada, especially to Samuel de Champlain, who used such an astrolabe.

I thought that the reference to Champlain was kinda interesting, especially since I speak about Champlain, his astrolabe, and the social memory of his astrolabe in class. An astrolabe that is thought to have belonged to Champlain was discovered around the time of Confederation in Ottawa and has since become an important symbol in that city.

However, I was a bit concerned about the following part of the text that accompanies the coat of arms:

The pattern of interlaced diagonal stripes symbolizes the central role of family and other relationships in Mr. Johnston’s life, as well as his interest in communication networks and his belief in the interconnectedness of knowledge.

Is family really more important to Johnston than it is to anyone else?

Two of my favourite Canadian coats of arms are below:

Emily Carr University of Art and Design

Nunavut Coat of Arms


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