Granting Armorial Bearings in Canada
Coats of Arms, Flags and Badges
(Print version of guide - Adobe Acrobat1 format 1.2 MB)
(Print version of form - Adobe Acrobat1 format 48 KB)
Arms of the Canadian Heraldic Authority
The shield features the maple leaf of Canada charged with a smaller shield, which indicates the heraldic responsibilities of the Authority.
The crest consists of the crowned lion resting its paw on a shield, symbolizing the fact that the Governor General is the head of the Authority and that heraldic emblems are honours flowing from the Canadian Crown.
The supporters are special heraldic beasts, half raven and half polar bear. Many First nations in Canada regard the raven as a creator or transformer, while the polar bear is known for its strength and endurance. These supporters represent the responsibility of Canada's heralds to create symbols for a wide range of Canadian institutions and individuals. The supporters rest on an outcrop of the Canadian Shield, representing the solid foundations on which the Authority has been established.
The Latin motto can be translated as: Let those who honour their country be honoured.
This brochure was produced by Communications and Visitor Services Directorate, Office of the Secretary to the Governor General.
Legal deposit: National Library of Canada 2006
Catalogue number: So2-11/14-2006
© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, 2006
printed in Canada
Granting Armorial Bearings in Canada
Grants of armorial bearings are honours from the Canadian Crown. They provide recognition for contributions that Canadian individuals and corporate bodies make in Canada and elsewhere.
All Canadian citizens or corporate bodies (municipalities, schools, societies, associations, institutions, etc.) may petition to receive a grant of armorial bearings.
Three categories of armorial bearings can be requested: coats of arms, flags and badges. A coat of arms is centered on a shield and may be displayed with a helmet, mantling, a crest and a motto (see explanation of terminology, p. 4). A grant of supporters is limited to corporate bodies and to some individuals in specific categories.
Canadian Citizens or Corporate bodies desiring to be granted armorial bearings by lawful authority must send a letter addressed to the Chief herald of Canada stating the wish "to receive armorial bearings from the Canadian Crown under the powers exercised by the Governor General."
The Coat of Arms of the Town of Penhold, Alberta
Individuals should forward:
- a completed information form (no. I-2006-1);
- proof of Canadian citizenship;
- a current biographical sketch that includes educational and employment background, as well as details of voluntary and community service;
- the names of two persons who may be contacted as confidential references.
Corporate bodies should forward:
- a brief history and a copy of the document establishing their legal existence in Canada;
- a current annual report or financial statement;
- a copy of the resolution from their governing body requesting the grant.
A grant of armorial bearings, as an honour, recognizes the contribution made to the community by the petitioner. The background information is therefore an important tool for the Chief herald of Canada to assess the eligibility of the request.
On the recommendation of the Chief herald of Canada, the herald Chancellor (the Secretary to the Governor General) or the deputy herald Chancellor (the deputy Secretary, Chancellery) signs a warrant authorizing a grant of armorial bearings. An invoice for the processing fee is then sent to the petitioner.
Each petition is assigned to one of the heralds of the Authority. There are three main stages in the grant process: the creation of a written description, the preparation of a preliminary design, and the production of the official letters patent.
Once the processing fee has been paid, the herald, a specialist in the field of emblematic design, begins work with the petitioner to determine the elements of a possible design, which must follow the rules of heraldry. After the written description of the armorial bearings has been approved by the Chief Herald of Canada, it is sent to the petitioner for acceptance.
After the written description has been approved, a contract is signed between the petitioner and one of the Authority's artists, who then prepares preliminary artwork. This preliminary design is reviewed by Fraser Herald, the Authority's principal artist, approved by the Chief Herald of Canada, and sent to the petitioner for approval.
The third stage involves the preparation of the grant document. Called letters patent, this official document includes the final artistic illustration of the armorial bearings accompanied by a legal text. It is signed by the appropriate officials, and the seal of the Canadian heraldic Authority is applied to it.
The petitioner decides whether the letters patent will be an Option I or an Option II format. The letters patent are bilingual, and the petitioner indicates which official language (English or French) is to be displayed on the left side. There are separate contracts for the final artwork and for the calligraphy of the document.
The grant is entered in the Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada, and the official notice of the grant is published in Part I of the Canada Gazette under the title "Government House."
All costs must be paid before the Letters Patent can be sent to the petitioner.
The government of Canada requires that the petitioner cover all direct costs related to the grant of armorial bearings.
These costs are in three parts:
The processing fee for all petitioners, fixed at $435 (plus GST) by Ministerial order. An invoice for this fee is sent at the time the warrant authorizing the grant is signed. Please note that payments forwarded before the invoice is sent will be returned to the petitioner.
Variable costs of research and/or specialized translation, to cover, for instance, the translation of mottoes into Latin or other foreign languages. in cases requiring additional research, the petitioner will receive an estimate and will pay a supplementary fee to the researcher.
Artwork costs, paid by the petitioner directly to the artist assigned by the Authority. The maximum cost of the artwork is established before each stage of the process, and the petitioner indicates agreement by signing contracts. Artwork is forwarded to the petitioner by the Authority, together with the artist's invoice, payable within thirty days of receipt.
The cost of one preliminary design ranges from $300 to $1,000 depending on the complexity of the design and the number of components. The cost increases if the petitioner wishes to make changes that require the revision of the preliminary design or the creation of new artwork.
The cost of the letters patent depends on the format of the document chosen by the petitioner, the complexity of the design, the number of components in the grant, and the inclusion of additional decoration.
The average time required to complete a grant is 12 to 14 months after the warrant has been signed. The process can last longer if there are protracted discussions or if the volume of petitions received exceeds available staff resources.
It is important to remember that grants of armorial bearings are made by the Crown to be valid forever. As a result, a sufficient amount of time is required to complete each grant.
The proposed armorial bearings must satisfy both the petitioner and the Chief herald of Canada, who is responsible for following acceptable heraldic practice and for maintaining high aesthetic standards. To do this, the heralds aim to create meaningful and powerful designs using a limited number of symbols and colours, often in dramatic contrast.
By determining what elements are essential for inclusion and by taking advantage of the Authority's expertise, a petitioner can ensure the creation of a beautiful and lasting design.
The sovereign of Canada, on the recommendation of the Governor General, must personally approve each use of the royal Crown in Canadian armorial bearings.
More information on the Canadian Heraldic Authority is available from:
The Canadian Heraldic Authority
Office of the Secretary to the Governor General
1 Sussex Drive
1. To read Adobe Acrobat® files, you will need to download and
install the free Acrobat Reader® software available from Adobe