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Registration of the Arms and Supporters of Her Majesty The Queen in Right of Canada
March 15, 2005
Vol. IV, p. 457
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Tierced in fess, the first and second divisions containing the quarterly coat following, namely, 1st, Gules three lions passant guardant in pale Or, 2nd, Or a lion rampant within a double tressure flory-counter-flory Gules, 3rd, Azure a harp Or stringed Argent, 4th, Azure three fleurs-de-lis Or, and the third division being Argent three maple leaves conjoined on one stem proper; An annulus surrounds the shield, being Gules edged and inscribed in letters Or with the Motto of the Order of Canada, DESIDERANTES MELIOREM PATRIAM, meaning “They desire a better country”; The Royal Crown proper ensigns the full achievement of the Arms;
Dexter a lion Or holding a lance Argent, point Or, flying therefrom to the dexter the Royal Union Flag, sinister a unicorn Argent armed, crined and unguled Or, gorged with a coronet composed of crosses-patée and fleurs-de-lis a chain affixed thereto and reflexed Or, holding a like lance flying therefrom to the sinister a banner Azure charged with three fleurs-de-lis Or; The supporters stand on a scroll Azure inscribed with the Motto in letters Or, above a wreath of roses, thistles, shamrocks and lilies proper;
A MARI USQUE AD MARE;
On a wreath Argent and Gules, a lion passant guardant Or imperially crowned proper and holding in the dexter paw a maple leaf Gules;
The design of the arms of Canada reflects the royal symbols of Great Britain and France: the three royal lions of England, the royal lion of Scotland, the royal fleurs-de-lis of France and the royal Irish harp of Tara. On the bottom portion of the shield is a sprig of three Canadian maple leaves representative of Canadians of all origins.
The Kings of England had two lions as supporters for their arms while the Kings of Scotland had two unicorns. When James VI of Scotland became James I of England in 1603, he chose one lion and one unicorn as the supporters of his royal arms. Canada adopted the same pattern. The two banners represent the two principal founding nations that had established Canada's most enduring laws and customs.
Meaning “From sea to sea”, it is based on biblical scripture: "He shall have dominion from sea to sea and from the river unto the ends of the earth (Psalm 72:8)".
The lion is a symbol of valour and courage. The crest is used to mark the sovereignty of Canada. Since 1980, it is the symbol used on the Governor General's Flag.