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Vancouver Flag & Coat of Arms


Friday, April 23rd, 2010 — 9:00am PDT
Comments 3

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]


(Left) 1886 depiction, photo 1940 (Right) Coat of Arms as it is today

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”

Photo credit: scazon on Flickr

Vancouver’s Flag
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.

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3 comments

  1. Excellent overview, Miss604. As City of Vancouver staff, I appreciate learning more about what lies behind the symbols I represent while on the job. May we update this list as new historical data becomes available? For example, in September 2009, the civic flag was used as a blanket when Quatchi lost his way in the DTES. Or would that be too much like TMZ trash gossip, what with the menacing paparazzi capturing the poor mascot’s every move in public. What would Danny Bonaducci have to say about that? Hmmm? 😉

  2. jmv says:

    oops, let me fix a link

  3. jmv says:

    I just noticed this post; the (Left) 1886 depiction is actually based on Blomfield’s 1903 design, not Hamilton’s.

    Hamilton’s crest looked more like an official seal and less like a coat of arms, as seen here:

    http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/symbolsofthecity/index.htm#coatofarms

    To be more precise, Blomfield’s coat of arms can in fact, be attributed to a 1901 design. His design was painted and officially adapted in 1903, according to footnotes by Blomfield himself in a reworked coat of arms he did in 1945 as a memorial to Andrew Linton, a Pioneer Boatbuilder. see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jmv/5399154031/

    I believe this 1945 revision of the coat of arms was also Blomfield’s way of suggesting a modernized symbol for the city, but that did not come until almost 25 years later. I have to wonder if any city records exist surrounding how much compensation Blomfield received for creating the city coat of arms. By comparison, this city document via wikipedia provides some modern insights surrounding the more recently adapted wordmark: http://vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20060718/documents/a15.pdf

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