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Discovered by Jacques Cartier in 1534 the island was named Ile St Jean by Samuel de Champlain in 1603 and became a part of the French colony of Acadia. The Island began to be settled in 1720 after it had become British by the Treaty of Utrecht (1713). The settlers lived primarily at Port-la-Joye and Havre Saint-Pierre (St. Peter's Harbour). At Port-la-Joye there was an administrative unit and a garrison, detached from Louisbourg, where sat the government for both Ile Royale and Ile Saint-Jean. It became its own separate colony on 28 June 1769, after determined lobbying by the island's proprietors.


In 1769 a Great Seal Deputed was made for the island which had to include:

on the one side, a representation of a large spreading oak, with a shrub under it and the legend or motto underneath PARVA SU INGENTI and this inscription round the circumference SIGILLUM INSULÆ SANCTI JOHANNIS IN AMERICA  and on the reverse His Majesty’s arms, crown, garter and supporters.” [1]

In the next few hundred years the representation on the obverse of the seal was repeated, the inscription round the circumference adapted in 1799 to the new name of the island. [2]


Seal of Ile St. Jean, 1769

Seal of Prince Edward Island, 1815

Seal of Prince Edward Island, 1820-1830

Seal of Prince Edward Island, 1839-1949


In 1799 the Isle Saint Jean was renamed as Prince Edward Island in honour of the then Commander-in-Chief of British North America: Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathern, the father of Queen Victoria. In the next century its capital, Charlottetown, became the scene of the beginning of that series of discussions and conferences which finally issued in the Confederation, 1867, which founded the Dominion of Canada. For various local reasons, however, Prince Edward Island did not join the new state for another six years with the consequence that arms for this Province were not assigned, as for Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, in 1868. The lack of such ensigns was rectified, therefore, by the grandson of the one after whom the Province was named in a Royal Warrant of 30th May, 1905. The following is the blazon of the arms;


Argent, on an island Vert, to the sinister an oak tree fructed to the dexter thereof three oak saplings sprouting, all Proper, on a chief Gules a lion passant guardant Or.


The gold lion passant guardant is from the arms of both Prince Edward and King Edward VII. The geographical circumstance of the Province is indicated by a symbolic island; while the three small oaks near a large one probably signify the three counties of the Province - Kings, Queens, Princes - adjacent to its offspring, in a sense, Canada. The motto is used in conjunction with these arms, parva sub ingenti (Small Things under Huge), would seem to bear out this contention. [3]


Æ See illustration in the head of this article,


Grant of Arms for Prince Edward Island, 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 “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 and also by the Houses of the Legislature of Prince Edward Island to admit Prince Edward Island into the Union or Dominion of Canada;

           And Whereas the Queen did by Her Royal Proclamation bearing date the twenty-sixth day of June, one thousand eight hundred and sevety-three, declare, ordain and command that from and after the first day of the month the said Colony of Prince Edward Island should be admitted into and become part of the Dominion of Canada and the said Colony has accordingly become a Province of the said Dominion of Canada.

            And Forasmucgh as oits is Our Royal Will and Pleasure that for the greater honour and distinction of the said Province of Prince Edward Island 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 do grant and assign for the said Province of Prince Edward Island the Armorial Ensigns following, that is to say: “Argent on an Island Vert, to the Sinister an Oak Tree fructed, to the Dexter thereof three Oak Saplings Sprouting all Proper, on a Chief Gules a Lion Passant Guardant Or,” to be borne for the said Province on Seals, Shields, Banners, Flags or otherwise according to the Laws 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 may 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 at St. James’s this thirtieth day of May, 1905, in the fifth year of Our Reign.


By His Majesty’s Command

Alfred Lytton


I Hereby certify that the foregoing copy of the Royal Warrant assigning Armorial Ensigns to the Province of Prince Edward Island is faithfully extracted from the Records of the College of Arms, London.


As witness my hand at the said College this nineteenth day of July, 1905.


A.S. Scott-Gatty,



Augmentation of Arms

Officially granted by Vice-Regal Warrant on December 13, 2002, by Her Excellency Adrienne Clarkson, Governor-General of Canada, and by an act of the Legislature.


The entry in the Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada is as follows:


Vol. IV, p. 195 Province of Prince Edward Island

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Augmentation of Arms

April 26, 2002

Vol. IV, p. 195



Arms: Argent on an island Vert, to the sinister an oak tree fructed, to the dexter thereof three oak saplings sprouting all proper, on a chief Gules a lion passant guardant Or;

Crest: On a grassy mount a blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata) reguardant crowned with the Royal Crown and bearing in its beak a leaf of the red oak tree (Quercus rubra L.) fructed proper;

Supporters: Two foxes (Vulpes fulva) Sable embellished Argent, that to the dexter gorged with a collar of potato blossoms proper, that to the sinister gorged with a length of fishnet Argent, both on a mount Vert set with a Mi'kmaq star Azure between lady's slipper flowers (Cypripedium acaule), red roses, thistles, shamrocks and white garden lilies proper;




Arms: The shield is based on the design of the great seals deputed of Prince Edward Island in use since 1769. The oak tree and saplings allude to the motto. They have been interpreted as a reference to Prince Edward Island as a small colony within the British Empire, and latterly as the smallest province within Canada. The three saplings can refer to the three counties of the province. The lion is taken from the Royal Arms, and can also refer to Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, for whom the Province was named.

Crest: The blue jay is the official avian emblem of the Island. The red oak leaf in its beak is a reference to Prince Edward Island’s official tree. The Royal Crown worn by the blue jay indicates the Province’s co-sovereign status within Confederation.

Supporters: The silver foxes symbolize the importance of the ranched fur industry in the Province’s history. The garland of potato blossoms represents the Island’s main agricultural activity, and the length of fishnet alludes to the fishing industry. The foxes stand on a grassy mound adorned by flowers and the Mi’kmaq eight-pointed star. This star honours the Province’s first inhabitants and traditionally represents the sun, which plays a central role in the spiritual lives of the Mi’kmaq people. It is depicted as if woven of porcupine quill, a popular Mi’kmaq art form. The rose, lily, shamrock and thistle symbolize the English, French, Irish and Scottish heritage of the early settlers. The lady’s slippers are the floral emblem of Prince Edward Island.

Motto: Meaning “The small under the protection of the great”, this Latin phrase is taken from Book II of Virgil’s Georgics, and has been used by the province since 1769.

Above the shield sits the Royal Helm, representing Prince Edward Island's ties to England as well as its co-sovereignty in Confederation. The mantle and the wreath are coloured red and white, official colours of Canada. [4]



Present Seal



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© Hubert de Vries 2015-12-11



[1] Public Record Office, London: CO 226, vol. 1, pp. 135-8

[2] Swan, Conrad: Canada, Symbols of Sovereignty. Toronto, 1977. Pp.141-148, Ill.8.1-8.6.

[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 pp 264-265.

[4] http://reg.gg.ca/heraldry/pub-reg/project.asp?lang=e&ProjectID=298&ShowAll=1

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