In its transition from colony to sovereign state; Canada has acquired a particularly rich heraldic history. French, British, Spanish, and Russian rulers have at times claimed parts of its land, and in independence Canada has come to embrace thirteen separate governments -- federal, provincial, and territorial.
Now for the first time the record of that past has been captured in the words of images of heraldry. This is a pioneer study, the only complete account of the evolution of the arms, seals, and the official flags of canada from the time of discovery to the present. It is both an historical discussion and a guide to current practice. Forty-six illustrations in full colour and 189 in black of white faithfully reproduce the armorial bearings and complement the text. The author writes with unique authority as the first Canadian member of the College of Arms.
The basic function of arms is indentification: the arms of sovereign authorities -- known technically as the arms of dominion and sovereignty -- are borne to demonstrate authority and jurisdiction. In his opening chapters Dr. Swan discusses the general principles involved and the relevant arms and seals of the kings and queens of France and England: he explains how they changed and were used to express sovereign authority in the new world. Chapters follow on the arms, seals, and flags of the sovereign state of Canada, with separate chapters on each province and the territories, all with an abundance of historical anecdotes.
In his commentary, Dr. Swan provides not only the proper heraldic blazons, but also plainer descriptions of arms and seals for the general reader. He has prepared as well a glossary of heraldic terms used in this book. Appendixes discuss royal style and title, the privy seals of the Governors General of Canada, and the arms and seals of Spain and Russia.
Canada: Symbols of Sovereignty is an important and fascinating introduction to the visible symbols of our life, historical and contemporary, for anyone with an interest in Canadian history or canadiana. For heraldists, historians, archivists, numismatists, and those interested in constitutional law, it provides an authoritative source of information.
CONRAD SWAN is York Herald of Arms-in-Ordinary to Her Majesty The Queen, Genealogist of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Knight of Justice of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, and Fellow of the Heraldry Society of Canada. He is the first Canadian to be a member of the College of Arms, London, and a permanent member of the Royal Household. Dr. Swan was born in Duncan, B.C., a fourth-generation Canadian. Educated in Canada and England, he moves frequently between the two countries. He is the author of numerous articles on heraldry.
'Canada: Symbols of Sovereignty represented a valuable addition to conventional histories of the discovery, settlement, and governments of what is now known as Canada. It gives an authoritative and well illustrated account of the importance of heraldic symbols in indentifying the pricipal actorsand authenticating their roles in the fascinating dreams of our country's formation.'
The Right Honourable Roland Michener
'One of the reasons for the present crisis of national unity is that we don't know, don't value, our history, our roots. Dr. Swan has given us a definitive record of the outward and visible signs of those roots, both French and British: the coat of arms, the official seals, the flags, and the changes in these which have marked our development from colony to nation.'