British Columbia's Coat of Arms
British Columbia's Coat of Arms is one of the most important elements in our visual heritage. It’s a symbol of our sovereignty and our co-sovereign status as a province of Canada.
B.C.’s Coat of Arms has several elements that hold historical, geographical and cultural significance, including:
- The Union Jack to symbolize our colonial origins
- The golden helmet of sovereignty to mark B.C.'s co-sovereign status in Canada
- The supporters, an elk (stag) representing Vancouver Island and a bighorn sheep (ram) representing the mainland of B.C.
- The Royal Crest of the crowned lion standing on the imperial crown
- Our provincial flower, the dogwood
Using B.C.'s Coat of Arms
B.C.’s Coat of Arms can be used by only the Lieutenant Governor, a member of the Executive Council or Legislative Assembly, or a judge of the Supreme, County or Provincial Courts.
Anyone else must first receive permission from the Premier to assume, display or use B.C.’s Coat of Arms or any design closely resembling it. Contact the B.C. Protocol office to enquire about permission to use B.C.’s Coat of Arms.
The evolution of our Coat of Arms took over ninety years:
- 1895, B.C.'s Coat of Arms was created
- 1906, B.C. was granted arms
- 1987, B.C.'s Coat of Arms was completed
B.C.'s first Coat of Arms was adopted on July 19, 1895. It was created by Canon Arthur Beanlands of Victoria and included symbols that reflected the views and beliefs of B.C. at the time, such as:
- The Union Jack, placed in the lower part of the shield to represent unity with the British nation
- The wavy blue bars, representing the sea
- The setting sun, representing the stability and glory of B.C. and reinforcing the motto Splendor Sine Occasu which translates to "Splendour Without Diminishment"
- The two supporters of the shield, the wapiti stag of Vancouver Island and the big horn sheep of the Mainland, representing the union of the two colonies in 1866
- The Royal Crest that, in Beanlands’ opinion, represented B.C.'s expression of loyalty to the Crown
In 1897, B.C. attempted to register the arms at the College of Arms. Problems with Beanlands' design became apparent, such as:
- The Union Jack was in an inferior position on the shield
- Infringement of the Sovereign’s exclusive right to the Union Jack symbol, violating an essential element of heraldic practice stating that no arms or parts of an armorial achievement could be used by another
It took several years to resolve the issues, but on March 31, 1906, B.C. was granted arms by Royal Warrant of Edward VII. However, only the shield and motto were granted arms and they included the following changes:
- The sun and Union Jack were reversed to conform to proper heraldic practice
- A golden antique crown was added in the centre point of the Union Jack
B.C. continued to use the Royal Crest and supporters, but didn’t seek a grant to use them at the time.
On October 15, 1987, the remaining elements of B.C.'s Coat of Arms were granted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
- A collar of dogwood flowers was added to the Royal Crest
- The golden helmet of sovereignty was placed between the shield and crest to mark B.C.'s co-sovereign status in Canada
- Traditional heraldic elements of a wreath and mantling were added above the helmet.
- A chain of dogwood flowers was entwined around the motto scroll