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What we know as present Manitoba was originally part of the vast domain ruled over by the Hudson’s Bay Company from its incorporation by King Charles II in 1670. [1]

The first subdivision of this enormous area came in 1811 with the sale by the Hudson’s Bay Company of extensive territories in the valleys of the Red River and the Assiniboine to the Scottish Lord Thomas Douglas, Fifth Earl of Selkirk [Lord Selkirk] (1771-1820).


Arms of Lord Thomas Douglas, Fifth Earl of Selkirk

Founder of the Red River Settlement


Appropriately, this area became known as the District of Assiniboia, which contained Red River Settlement.


Following their reconveyance to the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1836, while no arms of public authority appear to have been assigned for the area, nevertheless specific seals for official purposes were in fact made. Such a one is the round seal inscribed GOVERNOR OF ASSINIBOINA within a strap and buckle inscribed RED RIVER SETTLEMENT


Seal of the Governor of Assiniboia Red River Settlement

(Provincial Archives of Manitoba)


Another official seal of the Governor of Assiniboia dating from te governorship of Lt. Col. Willam Caldwell (1848-’55) has the royal achievement of Queen Victoria and bears the inscription ASSINIBOIA.

Seal of the Governor of Assiniboia.

On a document issued by the Governor 20.09.1853 [2]


Ensigns Armorial


In 1869 Prince Rupert’s Land and the Northwest Territories, together with the governmental powers over them, were transferred by the Hudson’s Bay Company to the Dominion of Canada. Out of this vast area which comprises practically the whole of central and northern Canada, there have been formed three Provinces and two Territories: Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, Yukon and Northwest Territories respectively. Of these, the first Province to be created was Manitoba in 1870.

At a Privy Council meeting held at Ottawa on 2 August 1870, the design of the great seal deputed of the new province  was decided upon. The seal was to comprise a shield upon which a buffalo stood with its head toward teh vieuwer with the Cross of St George placed along the top of the escutcheon and in the centre of this cross a royal crown. This  Great Seal Deputed, bearing the legend THE GREAT SEAL OF THE PROVINCE OF MANITOBA was used 1870-1903.


Great Seal of Manitoba 1870-1903

Arms of Manitoba 1870-1905


Arms: Vert, a buffalo statant guardant proper and a chief Argent, a cross Gules charged with a crown of St Edward proper.


These arms were used on many occasions and were placed on the composed arms of the Dominion of Canada from 1870 until 1905.

However, a Royal Ensign of public authority were not instituted for this Province until the twentieth century during the reign of Edward VII. Manitoba received such arms by a Royal Warrant of 10th  of May, 1905; the blazon reads:


       Vert, on a rock a buffalo statant Proper, on a chief Argent the Cross of St. George.


For all but two centuries the Hudson’s Bay Company had exercised vice-regal jurisdiction over the area out of which Manitoba was carved. The principal charge of the Company’s arms is a red cross of St. George, and so it was appropriate that this should be placed in chief on those for Manitoba. The buffalo, (Bison bison, Bovidæ) which is the major charge of the provincial arms, was at one period, at least, fauna typical of that area. [3]


Æ See illustration in the head of this article


Grant of the Arms of Manitoba, 1905




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 twenty-ninth 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 an Address from the Houses of  Parliament of Canada to admit Rupert´s Land and the Northwest Territory or either of them into the Union of Canada;


AND WHEREAS the Queen did by Her Royal Proclamation  bearing date the twenty-third day of June, 1870, declare, ordain and command that from and after the fifteenth day of july, 1870, the said North-western Territory and the said Rupert´s Land should be admitted into and become part of the Dominion of Canada:


AND WHEREAS by virtue of and under the authority of an Act of Parliamant passed in the thirty-fourth year of the Reign of Her late Majesty Queen Victoria entitled “The British North America Act, 1871,” it was (amongst other things ) enacted that certain Acts passed by the Parliamant of Canada and entitled respectively “An Act for the temporary government of Rupert´s Land and the North-western Territory when united with Canada” and “An Act to amend and continue the Act 32 and 33 Victoria and to establish and provide for the government of the Province of Manitoba,” shall be and be deemed to be valid and effectual for all purposes whatsoever from the date at which they respectively received the Assent in the Queen´s name, of the Governor General of the said 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 Manitoba 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 Manitoba the Armorial Ensigns following, that is to say: “Vert on a Rock a Buffalo statant proper, on a Chief Argent the Cross of St. George,” 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 this tenth day of May, 1905, in the fifth year of Our Reign.


By His Majesty´s Command

Alfred Lyttleton


I hereby certify that the foregoing Copy of the Royal Warrant assigning Armorial Ensigns to the Province of Manitoba is faithfully extracted from the Records of the College of Arms, London. As witness my hand at the said College this twenty-second day of June, 1905.


A.S. Scott-Gatty


The Augmentations


At the request of the Hon. George Johnson, M.D., Lieutenant General of the Province of Manitoba, the coat of arms granted by King Edward VII were augmented with a crest, supporters and a motto by the Governor General of Canada Ramon John Hnatyshyn by Vice-Regal Warrant dated 23th of October 1992.


The Achievement of Manitoba


Augmentation of the Arms of Manitoba: 23 Oct 1992


The grant reads, on the augmentations:


By His excellency The Right Honourrable Ramon John Hnatshyn, Member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, Chancellor and Principal Companion of the Order of Canada, Chancellor and Commander of the Order of Military Merit, one of Her Majesty’s Counsel learned in the law, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada;


To Judith Anne LaRocque, Herald Chamcellor, GREETING!


      WHEREAS Her Majesty did, by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of Canada, bearing the date the fourth of June, 1988, authorize and empower me to exercize or provide for the exercize of all powers and authorities lawfully belonging to Her Majesty as Queen of Canada in respect of the granting of armorial bearings in Canada;


      AND WHEREAS Her Majesty’s Royal Predecessor, King Edward VII, by Warrant dated the tenth day of May, 1905, under His Royal Sign Manual did assign for THE PROVINCE OF MANITOBA, the following Arms: Vert on a rock a buffalo statant proper on a chief Argent the Cross of St. George;


      AND WHEREAS the Honourable George Johnson, M.D., Lietenant Governor of the Province of Manitoba, on the advice of the Premier and Executive Council of that Province, has represented unto me the desire and request that the Arms of  THE PROVINCE OF MANITOBA be augmented with a Crest, Supporters and Motto in this year marking the one hundred and twenty-fifth anniversary of Confederation;


       NOW KNOW YOU that I, having taken the same into my consideration, and pursuant to the Authority granted to me by Her Majesty, do by these Presents grant and assign for the greater honour and distinction of THE PROVINCE OF MANITOBA in augmentation of its Arms the following Crest: Upon a helmet in trian aspect Or, mantled Gules, doubled Argent and wreathed of these colours a beaver sejant upholding with its back a representation of the Royal Crown proper its dexter forepaw raised holding a prairie crocus (Anemone parens) slipped also proper. And for Supporters: On a mound bearing seven prairie crocuses slipped proper between to the dexter a wheat field Or and to the sinister a forest of white spruce (Picea glauca) proper the whole rising above barry wavy Argent and Azure dexter a unicorn Argent armed crined and unguled  Or gorged with a mural coronet Vert masoned and encircled with maple leaves Argent pendant therefrom the wheel of a Red River cart Vert sinister a horse Argent crined queued and unguled Or gorged with a collar of Prairie Indian beadwork proper pendant therefrom a cycle of life medaillon Vert; And for a Motto: gloriosus • et • liber ; which augmentations are in the painting hereunto annexed more plainly depicted with the Arms of Manitoba, all of which are to be borne and used and to continue to be borne and used on Seals, Shields, Nammers, Flags or otherwise as shall be appropriate and all accordinh to the Law of Arms of Canada;


     AND I DIRECT, as is the custom in these matters, that you, Judith Anne LaRocque, Herald Chancellor, authorize Robert Douglas Watt, Chief Herald of Canada, to enter this augmentation in the Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada, and provide a full and complete copy of this Warrant to His Honour the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba for His Archives to the end that all public officials and others in Canada and elswhere whom it may concern may take full notice and have knowledge in their several Departments, Offices and Appointments;


And for so doing this shall be your Warrant.


     GIVEN under my hand at the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Manitoba in the City of Winnipeg this twenty-third day of October in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and ninety-two and in the fort-first year of Her Majesty’s Reign. [4]



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© Hubert de Vries 2015-12-03



[1] For this section see: Swan, Conrad: Canada , Symbols of Sovereignty. Toronto 1977, pp 193-201

[2] HBC: B235/2/3. f. 588: letters of administration issued by W.B. Caldwell, Governor of Assiniboia, to Louise McLeod, 20.09.1853.(PAM Red River Settlement Council of Assiniboia, governor’s seal)

[3] Swan, Conrad: The Canadian Arms of Dominion and Sovereignty. In: Recueil du Ve Congrès International des Sciences Généalogique et Héraldique à  Stockholm.  Stockholm, 1960 p. 264

[4] Grant and design of the achievement provided by the Chief Herald of Canada, 2000. Entered in Vol. II, page 2 of the Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada (23.10.1992)

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