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Anglican Church of Canada

Last modified: 2013-07-27 by rob raeside
Keywords: ecclesiastic arms | canada | maple leaf | st george cross |
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Official flag
Anglican Church of Canada image by Eugene Ipavec and Vincent Morley, 20 October 2007

Original proposal
Anglican Church of Canada image by Eugene Ipavec, 11 July 2007

See also:

Anglican Church of Canada

A photograph of the flag of the Anglican Church of Canada can be found at
Ron Lahav, 10 July 2007

From the above website:

The flag of the Anglican Church of Canada is almost identical in design to that of the arms of General Synod. The flag consists of the red cross of St. George, on a white background, with four green maple leaves in the quarters.

The red cross on a white background is the symbol of St. George, patron saint of England. The cross of St. George is widely associated with the Church of England, the mother church of the Anglican Church of Canada. The four maple leaves symbolize the four ecclesiastical provinces. They are green to indicate "a youthful and vigorous church and nation".

A flag for the national Anglican Church was first requested in a letter from the Diocese of Montreal, to the Executive Council of the General Synod, in November 1953. The Council approved the recommendation and a small sub-committee was formed and reported to the 1955 General Synod. The original design proposed by the sub-committee (the red cross of St. George on a white field with a gold maple leaf superimposed in the middle of the cross) was slightly modified by the 1995 General Synod.

General Synod. Journal of Proceedings - 1955. Pp. 39, 78, 315.
Insignia: Anglican Church of Canada: The Corporate Seal, The Primatial Cross, The Arms of Synod, The Church Flag. Toronto: Anglican Book Centre [ca. 1956].

Ned Smith, 10 July 2007

General Synod of the Anglican Church

I attended a ceremony this evening at Carleton University here in Ottawa and observed the Governor General complete the formalities to register the Coat of Arms granted to the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, and to grant a flag and badge. This was part of the Primate's service opening the General Synod (the annual meeting of the corporate body governing the Anglican Church in Canada).

Thanks to Auguste Vachon, St Laurent Herald of the Canadian Heraldic Authority, I have the full text of the letters patent before me and will post a summary of the key paragraphs. (The text is available in both French and English, as with all government documents in this country.)

TO all whom these Presents shall come ... Greeting: by Robert Douglas Watt, Chief Herald of Canada:

Whereas the Most Reverend Michael Geoffrey Peers, Archbishop, Primate and President of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, has represented to the Chief Herald of Canada, that a body under the name of the General Synod of the Church of England in Canada was constituted and organized ... in 1893, and that the aforesaid General Synod was further incorporated ... 1921, ...

And Whereas the Most Reverend Michael Geoffrey Peers has further represented to the Chief Herald of Canada that Garter King of Arms and his fellow Kings of Arms did by Letters Patent dated the 29th day of December 1938 grant Armorial Bearings to be borne and used by the General Synod, and that it is the desire of the ... General Synod that these Armorial Bearings should be registered by the Canadian Heraldic Authority, and that a flag and badge be also granted to the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada in permanent commemoration of the centenary of its foundation;

And Whereas a warrant dated the 14th day of February 1994 has been issued by ... James Cyrille Gervais, ... Deputy Herald Chancellor of the Canadian Heraldic Authority, authorizing the Chief Herald to register these arms and to grant such flag and badge as he deems fitting and appropriate to be borne and used by the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada;

Now Know You that pursuant to the authority vested in His Excellency the Right Honourable Romeo Adrien LeBlanc, ... Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, to exercise the armorial prerogative of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as Queen of Canada, by Letters Patent dated the 4th day of June 1988, and the terms of my Commission of Office, I Robert Douglas Watt, Chief Herald of Canada, do by these presents register in the name of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada the following Arms:

Argent on a cross Gules between four maple leaves Vert an open book Argent garnished and clasped Or, inscribed Nisi Dominus, in letters Sable and ensigned with a mitre Or;

and for a Flag:

Argent, a cross Gules between four maple leaves Vert;

and for a Badge:

A plate surmounted of a cross Gules angleť of four maple leaves Vert;
As the same are more plainly here depicted and entered in Volume III, page 16 of the Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada, to be borne and used for ever hereafter by the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada on seals, shields or otherwise according to the Law of Arms of Canada;

Given under my hand and the seal of the Canadian Heraldic Authority at Rideau Hall in the City of Ottawa this twenty-fourth day of May in the year of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and ninety five, in the first year of His Excellency's Service in office and in the forty-fourth year of Her Majesty's Reign. In testimony whereof Judith Anne LaRocque, Herald Chancellor, and Lieutenant-General James Cyrille Gervais, Deputy Herald Chancellor, have witnessed this action with their signatures.

On the letters patent (engrossed by Fraser Herald, I believe, as she is the artist at the CHA), the English text appears on the left, the French on the right, flanking the depictions of the Coat of Arms, Flag and Badge, which appear in a central column, in that order from top to bottom.

The seal of the Authority is set in the centre, below the designs; it appears in blind (that is, embossed in the vellum).

The letters patent will be placed in the Archives of the General Synod, which are located at Church House, 600 Jarvis Street, Toronto.

Other details of possible interest to you all:

The Primate wore vestments of natural-linen, embroidered in gold. The Governor General wore a black suit. The Chief Herald wore a black suit and red tie. (We talked at the reception after the ceremony, but I was growing tired after a very hot day -- over 30 centigrade -- so did not take note of chalk stripes, tie patterns and all that fashion detail. Mea culpa! Mea maxima culpa!)

Much to my disappointment, no flag has yet been crafted, so no ceremony of consecration was held. My vex illogical interests must be contained in patience for some time to come.

Terry Manuel, a past-president of the Heraldry Society of Canada, attended today's ceremony and provided what sports fans would call "color commentary" for the television cameras. (Nota Bene for Simon Kershaw: the whole ceremony was videotaped. Terry Thompson, the Archivist of the General Synod, informed me that the tapes will be preserved in her bailiwick. The tapes of past annual meetings are made available for a wide range of educational purposes. The main question is compatibility of UK and North American videotapes; I'll seek enlightenment on that question for you.)

Some notes about the Arms were printed on the Order of Service for this evening's ceremonies. I will quote the handy potted history in full.

"Closely based on the design by Edward Marion Chadwick, proposed in 1910 and finally ratified in 1918. To the flag of the Church of England, he added two "differences" - four green maple leaves for Canada and the open Bible with Bishop Inglis' motto (Psalm 127:1). When the Primatial Cross was produced for the Inglis sesquicentenary, August 1937, the original grant was obtained, adding a specifically Episcopal symbol."

For those of you not well versed in Canadian ecclesiastical history, I will note that Inglis was the first Anglican Bishop in the diocese of Nova Scotia, which included territory now the provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, as well as Bermuda. His son was third bishop of Nova Scotia. This late in the evening, I cannot remember which was Charles and which was John Nova Scotia.
Patricia Kennedy, 4 June 1999

Diocese of Niagara

Anglican Diocese of Niagra image by Eugene Ipavec and Vincent Morley, 29 August 2007

A photo of the flag of the Diocese of Niagara of the Anglican Church of Canada can be seen at It is the Anglican Church of Canada's flag- a St. George's Cross with a green maple leaf in each quarter, with the diocesan arms in the center. A better view of the arms can be seen at
Ned Smith, 3 February 2005

Bishop Ralph Spence is the flag's designer and a leading Canadian vexillologist.

Among many online references to him as a vexillologist, is this from a news story about his upcoming retirement- "Bishop Spence is also known for having the largest personal flag collection in North America and is Canada's leading expert in vexillology, or the study of flags."

Bishop Spence has also been "appointed chaplain to the 1,000 workers at the 2008 international Lambeth Conference of bishops. In addition, Bishop Spence said, he will also be 'helping out with disciplinary matters' during the conference." In connection with that appointment the Hamilton Spectator published a cartoon about the good bishop which reveals the great esteem in which the general public holds vexillologists and vexillology.
Ned Smith, 2 September 2007