Coat of Arms of British Columbia

british-columbia-coa.jpg The evolution of British Columbia’s Coat of Arms seems appropriately unorthodox for the wild west. In short, the Provincial Government used the arms for almost 100 years despite the express disapproval of the heraldic authority (and by extension the Queen), until they finally gave in and bent the rules. The original arms (top) by Canon Arthur Beanlands featured a Union Jack (symbolizing allegiance to Britain of course), wavy bars representing the sea and a setting sun signifying the provinces “splendor without end”, which is referenced in the motto – splendor sine occasu. The design was also embellished with two supporters – the wapiti stag representing Vancouver Island and the Mainland’s Big Horn Sheep – as well as the Royal Crest (the royal crown and lion). However, Beanlands was an enthusiast, not an official herald and the College of Arms, had a few problems with his design. After much back-and-forth, the College finally granted an altered version of the design with the Union Jack moved to the top (the sun never sets on the British empire) and an antique crown at its’ center; no supporters (none of the other provinces had them, so why should BC?) and no Royal Crest (only to be used by the Queen!). The Government of BC accepted the altered shield, but went ahead and stuck the supporters and the Royal Crest back in for good measure (middle). And that’s pretty much how things remained right up until 1987, when a slightly modified version of the arms (bottom) was approved. The lion now wears a garland of Dogwood flowers and sits atop the ‘golden helmet of sovereignty’, but for the first time in history, the Queen granted use of the Royal Crest. Sometimes it really is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. Robert D. Watt, The Coat of Arms of British Columbia: A Brief History, October 15, 1987

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