What Is Heraldry?

Heraldry has been defined by the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada as the “…study, design, regulation and use of armorial bearings, commonly known as coats of arms.” The first example of heraldry in Canada occurred at Gaspé, on July 24, 1534, when Jacques Cartier raised a cross that bore the arms of Francis I, King of France.

More than 450 years later, on June 4, 1988, Canada’s Governor General was made head of the Canadian Heraldic Authority and was given the power to grant armorial bearings in Canada. The Authority’s mandate is to issue coats of arms, flags and badges to Canadians and to Canadian entities. Before 1988, Canadians wishing to obtain armorial bearings had to petition the College of Arms in London, England, or the Court of the Lord Lyon in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Molson coat of arms (MIKAN 2946047)

Molson coat of arms (MIKAN 2946047)

Learn more about heraldry from the following reference works:

  • A Canadian Heraldic Primer, written by Kevin Greaves and illustrated by Bruce Patterson and Gordon Macpherson (AMICUS 22962127)
  • Beddoe’s Canadian Heraldry, by Alan Beddoe (AMICUS 11514059)
  • Granting and Registering Armorial Bearings in Canada: Coats of Arms, Flags and Badges – Procedure Guide, by the Canadian Heraldic Authority (AMICUS 25541152)
  • Heraldry in Canada (AMICUS 120587)
  • Flagscan (AMICUS 6865457)

Library and Archives Canada holds the following fonds that pertain to this fascinating tradition:

Interested in knowing more about Canada’s emblems and symbols?

To learn more about Canada’s emblems and symbols, such as the beaver, the fleur-de-lys and the maple leaf, consult the Canadian Identity pages of the Canadian Heritage website.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s