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The blazon of the arms of British Columbia reads as follows:


Argent, three bars wavy Azure issuant from the base a demi-sun in splendour Proper, on a chief the Union device charged in the centre with an antique crown Or. (R.W. 31st March, 1906)


The motto traditionally borne in conjunction with these arms is, splendor sine occasu (Splendour Without Setting or End). During the nineteenth century the destiny of the Pacific Coast of North Ame-


rica between the possessions of Spain in the south and of Russia in the north was anything but obvious. This large area, between 42° and 54° 40’ North, was frequently referred to as Oregon country. In 1795 and in 1819 Spain renounced all claims upon it as far as British interests and American interests were concerned respectively. During the next century the open questions were, therefore: would it become a southward extension of Alaska, and hence Russian; would it form part of the British Empire? In 1824 Russia agreed to keep to her Alaskan boundary, 54° 40’ North, which meant that the contest for jurisdiction was between the Americans and the British in virtue of discovery, exploration and trading expeditions.

Between 1818 and 1846 the Oregon territory was occupied jointly by the two powers. In the 1830’s and 1840’s large migrations of American settlers into the area encouraged considerable agitation for outright annexation of the whole territory by the United States. Finally, however, in 1846, by an agreement between Great Britain and the United States, the boundary  was continued from the Rocky Mountains along the 49th parallel of latitude and drawn round the southern tip of Vancouver island, thus confriming that a considerable part of the coastal area to the north of that line was to be British rather than American Columbia. Later in the 1850’s and 1860’s the gold rush, with the resultant flood of prospectors, further complicated government. However, those who stood for the British connection maintained the status quo and led the colony into a federal union with the new Dominion of Canada in 1871.


When British Columbia joined Canada in 1871 it had no official heraldry although in the colonial period the Royal Arms, including the Royal Crest of the crowned lion standing on the imperial crown, was widely used on official documents. This was general practice throughout the Empire. However, in this province, from the 1870s the Royal Crest flanked by the initials "B.C." began to be used as a type of provincial insignia. [1]

In the early 1890s the need to review the Great Seal of the Province seems to have provided an opportunity for the Province’s first heraldic enthusiast, Canon Arthur Beanlands of Victoria, to encourage the government of the day to adopt a more elaborate device. In 1895 he designed a Coat of Arms for the Province which was adopted by Order-in-Council on July 19th that year and which Cabinet directed be used as the Great Seal of the Province. [2] It consisted of the Union Jack below bars wavy and a setting sun indicating the geographical position of the area. On it was the Royal crest and two supporters, the wapiti stag (Cervus elaphus - Cervidæ) of Vancouver Island and the big horn sheep (Ovis montana) of the Mainland represented the Union of the two colonies in 1866.


Achievement of British Columbia

adopted by Order-in-Council of  19 July 1895 of the Province of British Columbia Cabinet


Ancient version of the achievement of British Columbia.

Stained glass in Parliament House, Victoria



A seal bearing this device was brought into being by provincial order of British Columbia  of 6 September 1896. Its legend reads: THE SEAL OF THE PROVINCE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA. [3]


Ten years later, in 1906, Edward VII assigned arms for the Province incorporating these charges, as described before, with his badge of the Union differenced by a gold antique crown.




Grant of Arms of British Columbia, 1906


The Grant reads:




Edward the Seventh by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, King, Defender of the Faith;


To Our Right Trusty and Right Entirely beloved Cousin and Councillor Henry Duke of Norfolk Earl Marshal and Our Hereditary Marshal of England, Knight of Our Most Noble Order of the Garter, Knight Grand Cross of Our Royal Victorian Order, Greeting: -


WHEREAS by virtue of and under the Authority of an Act of Parliament passed in the Thirtieth year of the Reign of Her late Majesty Queen Victoria entitled “The British North America Act, 1867,” it was amongst other things enacted that it should be lawful for The Queen by and with the advice of Her Majesty´s Most Honourable Privy Council on addresses from  the House of  Parliament of Canada and of the Legislature of the Colony of British Columbia to admit The Colony of British Columbia into the union or Dominion of Canada:


AND WHEREAS The Queen did by an Order in the  Privy Council bearing date the sixteenth day of May one thousand eight-hundred and seventy one declare ordain and command that from and after the twentieth day of July following the said Colony of British Columbia should be admitted into and become part of the Dominion of Canada.


AND forasmuch as it is Our Royal Will and pleasure that for the greater honour and distinction of the said Province of British Columbia certain Armorial Bearings should be assigned thereto;


KNOW YE therefore that We of Our Princely Grace and Special Favour have granted and assigned and by these Presents grant and assign for The Province of British Columbia the Armorial Ensigns following, that is to say: “Argent three Bars wavy Azure issuant from the base a demi Sun in splendour proper on a Chief the Union Device charged in the centre point with an Antique Crown Or,” as the same are in the painting hereunto annexed more plainly depicted to be borne for the said Province on Seals, Shields, Banners, Flags or otherwise according to the Law of Arms.


Our will and pleasure therefore is that you, Henry, Duke of Norfolk, to whom the cognizance of matters of this nature doth properly belong do require and command that this Our Concession and Declaration be recorded in Our College of Arms in order that Our Officers of Arms and all other Public Functionaries whom it may concern take full notice and have knowledge thereof in their several and respective departments.


And for so doing this shall be your Warrant.


Given at Our Court of St. James’s the Thirty first day of March 1906, in the Sixth year of Our Reign.


By His Majesty’s Command




On 15 October 1987 the achievement was augmented.

With Her Majestys agreement, the Royal Crest was for the first time in history being granted, with an appropriate differencing mark, to another sovereign entity. Henceforth the lion will bear a garland of dogwoods, the Provinces official flower.

Three other changes are being made. The golden helmet of sovereignty is placed between the shield and the crest as a mark of British Columbias Co-sovereign status in Confederation, an appropriate signal of the completion of the patriation process.

Above the helmet are the traditional heraldic elements of a wreath and mantling. These are red and white, Canadas national colours as established in the Canadian Coat of Arms granted in 1921. The provincial flower is featured a second time by entwining dogwoods around the motto scroll. [4]


Grant of Arms of British Columbia, 1987


The Grant reads:


ELIZABETH THE SECOND by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom Canada and of Our other Realms and Territories Queen Head of the Commonwealth Defender of the Faith


To Our Right Trusty and Right entireley Beloved Cousin Miles Francis Stapleton Duke of Norfolk Knight Companion of Our Most Noble Order of the Garter, Knight Grand Cross of Our Royal Victorian Order, Companion of Our Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Commander of Our Most Excellent Order of the British Empire upon whom has been conferred the Decoration of the Military Cross Earl Marshal, Greeting!


WHEREAS Our Right Trusty Councillor Her Excellency the Right Honourable Jeanne Sauve Chancellor and Principal Companion of Our Order of Canada Chancellor and Commander of Our Order of Military Merit Our Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada has represented unto Us that Our Royal Predecessor Queen Vicoria with the advice and consent of the House of Lords and House of Commons assembled at Her palace at Westminster by an Act entitled An Act for the Union of the Colony of Vancouver Island and the Colony of British Columbia, 29 and 30 Victoria Chapter 67, to which Act the Royal Assent was given on the sixth day of August 1866 did constitute a successor colony known as British Columbia which Colony by and Order of the said Queen in Council dated the Sixteenth day of May, 1871 was authorized to and did join in a federal union with Canada as a Province thereof on the Twentieth day of July, 1871 and


WHEREAS Our Royal Predecessor King Edward VII by Warrant dated the Thirty-first day of March 1906 under His Royal Sign Manual did assign His and Our Province of British Columbia certain Armorial Bearings videlict a Shield of Arms and a Motto the record whereof has been preserved in Our College of Arms


AND WHEREAS His Honour the Honourable Robert Gordon Rogers, Knight of Justice of Our Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, Lieutenant-Governor of the said Province upon the advice of te Premier and Executive Council of that Province has represented unto Our Governor General and Commander-in-Chief the desire and request that in Commemoration of the royal concern for and particular interest most graciously then evinced in the creation of the successor Colony of British Columbia and its entry as a Province into a federal union with Canada by Our said Royal Predecessor Queen Victoria there be added to Our Arms of British Columbia by way of Augmentation a Crest and Supporters


AND WHEREAS  Her Excellency upon the advice of the Secretary of State for Canada has recommended and submitted the request made by British Columbia in respect of its said Armorial Bearings for Our consideration and determination


KNOW YOU therefore that We having taken the same into Our Royal Consideration are graciously pleased to accede thereunto und by Our Princely Grace and Special Favour for the greater honour and distinction of Our said Province of British Columbia have granted and assigned and by these Presents do grant and assign in augmentation of the Arms of British Columbia the following Crest: Upon a Helm with a wreath Argent and Gules the Royal Crest proper ofgeneral purpose of Our Royal Predecessor Queen Victoria differenced for Us and Our Successors in right of British Columbia with the Lion thereof grakanded abot the neck with the Provincial Flower that is to say the Pacific Dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) with leaves all proper Mantled Gules doubled Argent and

For Supporters on the dexter side a Wapiti Stag (Cervus canadensis) proper and on the sinister side a Bighorn Sheep Ram (Ovis canadensis) Argent armed an unguled Or and

Beneath the Shield a scroll entwined with Pacific Dogwood flowers slipped and leaved proper inscribed with the Motto assigned by the said Warrant of Our Royal Predecessor King Edward VII that is to say SPLENDOR SINE OCCASU as the same are in the painting here unto annexed more plainly depicted to be borne and used together with the said Arms for Our said Province of British Columbia upon Seals, Banners, Flags or otherwise as shall be appropriate and all according to the Laws of Arms.

Our Will and Pleasure therefore is that you the said Miles Francis Stapleton Duke of Norfolk in accordance with the custom and usage obtaining in these respects do cause this Our Concession and Declaration to be entered and recorded at Our College of Arms and in such manner as may be convenient to ensure that in particular such certified facsimile copies of this Our Warrant as may be required by Her Excellency The Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada and by His Honour the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia for their respective archives are provided and in general to the end that all public functionaries and others in Canada and elsewhere whom it may concern may take fulle notice and have knowledge thereof in their several Departments, Offices and Appomntments.


And for so doing this shall be your Warrant


Given at Our Court at Our Law Courts in the City of Vancouver, in Our said Province, this Fifteenth day of October one thousand nine hundred and eighty-seven and in the Thirty-sixth years of Our Reign

By Her Majesty’s Command



Secretary of State of Canada


Æ See illustration in the head of this article




British Columbia Provincial Police 1858-1950


BCPP hat badge

BCPP cap badge

Shoulder Title



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© Hubert de Vries 2015-12-02



[1] Swan, Conrad: The Canadian Arms of Dominion and Sovereignty. In: Recueil du Ve Congrès International des Sciences Généalogique et Héraldique à  Stockholm.  Stockholm, 1960 pp 266-267

[2] http://www.protocol.gov.bc.ca/protocol/prgs/symbols/coat_of_arms.htm) = Watt Robert D. : The Coat of Arms of British Columbia: A Brief History - for the official granting of the Coat of Arms of British Columbia, October 15, 1987.

[3] Swan, Conrad:  Canada:  Symbols of  Sovereignty. Toronto, 1977. P. 184

[4] Watt, op.cit.

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