A coat of arms is a heraldic symbol dating back to the 12th century in Europe. It was originally a cloth tunic worn over, or in place of, armour to establish identity in battle. Arms were later adopted as emblems for cities, schools, churches, guilds and corporations to reflect their origins or histories.
History of our Coat of Arms
The City of Ottawa’s Coat of Arms was granted by the letters Patent of the King of Arms, the Duke of Norfolk, on September 15, 1954 and was formally used on January 1, 1955. At amalgamation in 2001 the Transition Board elected to continue the use of the former City of Ottawa's Coat of Arms and it continues to be used today.
The Armorial Bearings of the City of Ottawa as provided by the Canadian Heraldic Authority:
Arms: The wavy blue and white cross represents the junction of the Ottawa River and the two tributaries, the Rideau and Gatineau rivers, which determined the location of the community. The Royal Crown honours the naming of Ottawa as the Dominion of Canada’s capital by Her Majesty Queen Victoria in 1857. The maple leaf is another reference to Ottawa as the capital of Canada. The canoe paddle and arrows symbolize the Outaouais Nation, who were the first occupants of the region. The astrolabe represents Samuel de Champlain, the first European to explore the region in 1613. The pick and shovel crossed behind a grenade allude to the Royal Engineers who, under Lieutenant-Colonel John By, built the Rideau Canal and founded Bytown, the original name of Ottawa.
Crest: The white pine honours the role this natural resource played in attracting settlers into the Ottawa region and is also a reference to what was considered one of the Ottawa Valley’s principal economic assets. The roundel featuring an oak tree alludes to the former seal of Bytown.
Motto: The phrase is adopted from the city’s original motto, “City of Ottawa Advance”.
Supporters: The timber trimmer refers to Ottawa’s historic timber trade industry. The officer of the Civil Service Rifle Regiment indicates that this unit and its successors, composed of volunteers from the civil service, have served in Ottawa since 1865.
Original Concept of: The Heralds of the College of Arms, London.
Painter: Debra MacGavie
Calligrapher: Karen Mackay
Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada, Volume 1V, page 113, 15 June 2001.