The history of Vancouver’s flag (and thus its coat of arms) was suggested by a reader the other day so I have dug up some research about our city’s icons.
Coat of Arms
Vancouver’s first Coat of Arms was drawn up by alderman Lauchlan Hamilton (as in Hamilton Street) and assumed in 1886. However, as it was deemed pretty “unofficial” by Coat of Arms standards, a new one was designed by James Blomfield. Bloomfield is also known for his stained glass work that hangs in New Westminster’s Holy Trinity Church as well as Gabriola, the mansion most recently known as the home of the Macaroni Grill. His Coat of Arms was used by Vancouver from 1903 and variations appeared after 1928.
It was consistently rejected by the College of Arms for years until member of Vancouver’s city staff visited the College in the 1960s to revisit the issue. The grant of arms, as well as a badge derived from the arms, was finally approved March 31st 1969. [VancouverHistory]
The Coat of Arms has several distinct symbols:
- A ship, signifying Vancouver as a seaport (sitting atop a mural crown, symbolizing our incorporation as a city)
- A shield, featuring our Province’s symbol – the dogwood flower as well as a Kwakiutl totem pole (in the pre-1960s version this was a caduceus, not a totem pole)
- A logger and a fisherman, a tribute to our city’s two traditional industries
- The motto, “By Sea Land and Air We Prosper”
The flag was adopted by City Council on May 17th, 1983 and was designed by Robert Watt, who was the Director of the Museum of Vancouver at the time. It contains the same wavy blue lines as the shield on the Coat of Arms, signifying the water that surrounds us (much like in the Provincial flag of BC).
The green chevron represents our forests and contains the gold shield representing our city badge. On the badge there is a mural crown with a crossed axe and paddle, once again symbolizing forestry and fishing.
You can find the flag waving outside City Hall or in public parks.