The Canadian Crown
The crown has been a symbol of the state in Canada for 400 years. Canada has been a constitutional monarchy in its own right since Confederation in 1867 during Queen Victoria's reign. Queen Elizabeth II, who has been Queen of Canada since 1952, marked her Golden Jubilee in 2002 and celebrates her Diamond Jubilee ( 60 years as Sovereign ) in 2012. The Crown is a symbol of government, including Parliament, the legislatures, the courts, police services, and the Canadian Forces.
Flags In Canada
A new Canadian flag was raised for the first time in 1965. The red-white-red pattern comes from the flag of the Royal Military College, Kingston, founded in 1876. Red and white had been colors of France and England since the Middle Ages and the national colors of Canada since 1921. The Union Jack is our official Royal Flag. The Canadian Red Ensing served as the Canadian flag for about 100 years. The provinces and territories also have flags that embody their distinct traditions.
The Maple Leaf
The maple leaf is Canada's best-known symbol. Maple leaves were adopted as a symbol by French Canadians in the 1700s, have appeared on Canadian uniforms and insignia since the 1850s, and are carved into the headstones of our fallen soldiers buried overseas and in Canada.
It is that the lily flower ("fleur-de-lys") was adopted by the French king in the year 496. It became the symbol of French royalty for more than 1,000 years, including the colony of New France. Revived at Confederation, the fleur-del- lys was included in the Canadian Red Ensign. In 1948 Quebec adopted its own flag, based on the Cross and the fleur-de-lys.
Coat of Arms and Motto
As an expression of national pride after the First World War, Canada adopted an official coat of arms and a national motto, A mari usque ad mare, which in Latin means "from sea to sea." The arms contain symbols of England, France, Scotland, and Ireland as well as red maple leaves. Today the arms can be seen on dollar bills, government documents, and public buildings.
The towers, arches, sculptures and stained glass of the Parliament Buildings embody the French, English, and Aboriginal traditions and the Gothic Revival architecture popular in the time of Queen Victoria. The buildings were completed in the 1860s. The Center Block was destroyed by an accidental fire in 1916 and rebuilt in 1922. The Library is the only part of the original building remaining. The Peace Tower was completed in 1927 in memory of the First World War. The Memorial Chamber within the Tower contains the Books of Remembrance in which are written the names of soldiers, sailors, and airmen who died serving Canada in wars or while on duty.
The provincial legislatures are architectural treasures. The Quebec National Assembly is built in the French Secon Empire style, while the legislatures of the other provinces are Baroque, Romanesque and neoclassical, reflecting the Greco-Roman heritage of Western civilization in which democracy originated.
Hockey is Canada's most popular spectator sport and is considered to be the national winter sport. Ice hockey was developed in Canada in the 1800s. The National Hockey League plays for the championship Stanley Cup, donated by Lord Stanley, the Governor General, in 1892. The Clarkson Cup, established in 2005 by Adrienne Clarkson, the 26th Governor General ( and the first of Asian origin ). is awarded for women's hockey.
Many young Canadians play hockey at school, in a hockey league or on quiet streets- road hockey or street hockey - and are taken to the hockey rink by their parents. Canadian children have collected hockey cards for generations.
Canadian football is the second most popular sport. Curling, an ice game introduced by Scottish pioneers, is popular.
Lacrosse, an ancient sport first played by Aboriginals, is the official summer sport, Soccer has the most registered players of any game in Canada.
The beaver was adopted centuries ago as a symbol of the Hudson's Bay Company. It became an emblem of the St. Jean Baptiste Society, a French-Canadian patriotic association, in 1834, and was also adopted by other groups. This industrious rodent can be seen on the five-cent coin, on the coats of arms of Saskatchewan and Alberta, and of cities such as Montreal and Toronto.
Canada's Official Languages
English and French are the two official languages and are important symbols of identity. English speakers (Anglophones) and French speakers (Francophones) have lived together in partnership and creative tension for more than 300 years. You must have adequate knowledge of English or French to become a Canadian citizen. Adult applicants 55 years of age or over are exempted from this requirement.
Parliament passed the Official Languages Act in 1969. It has three main objectives:
- Establish equality between French and English in Parliament, the Government of Canada and institution subject to the Act:
- Maintain and develop official language minority communities in Canada; and
- Promote equality of French and English in Canadian society.
The Order of Canada and Other Honours
All countries have ways to recognize outstanding citizens. Official awards are called honours, consisting of orders, decorations and medals.
After using British honours for many years, Canada started its own honours system with the Order of Canada in 1967, the centennial of Confederation.
The Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross (V.C) is the highest honour available to Canadians and is awarded for the most conspicuous bravery, a darling pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy. The V.C. has been awarded to 96 Canadians since 1854, including:
- Lieutenant Alexander Roberts Dunn (15 September 1833 – 25 January 1868) was the first Canadian awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
He was born in York (later Toronto) in 1833, the son of John Henry Dunn, and studied at Upper Canada College and at Harrow School, England. He purchased a commission in the Hussars in 1852.
Dunn was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions at the Charge of the Light Brigade during the Battle of Balaclava on 25 October 1854 when he was 21 years of age and serving in the British Army's 11th Hussars. Dunn rescued a sergeant by cutting down two or three Russian lancers who had attacked from the rear. Later in the battle, he killed another Russian who had been attacking a private.
He sold his commission at the end of the Crimean War but rejoined the Army in 1858 as a major in the 100th Regiment of Foot. He exchanged into the 33rd Regiment of Foot, in 1864 in which regiment he remained until his death in the Abyssinian War.
Dunn was promoted to the rank of colonel in 1864 and commanded the 33rd Regiment at the start of the 1868 Expedition to Abyssinia, but was killed in unusual circumstances during a hunting accident at Senate before the military part of the campaign started. He was the first Canadian to command a British Army regiment.
Able Seaman William Hall of Horton (28 April 1827 – 27 August 1904) was the first Black person, first Nova Scotian, and third Canadian to receive the Victoria Cross. He received the medal for his actions in the Siege of Lucknow during the Indian Rebellion. Hall and an officer from his ship continued to load and fire a 24-pounder gun at the walls after the rest of the party had been killed or injured by the defenders.
William Edward Hall was born at Horton, Nova Scotia, in 1827 as the son of Jacob and Lucy Hall, who had escaped American slave owners in Maryland during the War of 1812 and were brought to freedom in Nova Scotia by the British Royal Navy as part of the Black Refugee movement. The Halls first lived in Summerville, Nova Scotia where Jacob worked in a shipyard operated by Abraham Cunard until they bought a farm across the Avon River at Horton Bluff. Hall first worked in shipyards at nearby Hantsport, Nova Scotia, before going to sea at the age of seventeen. He sailed first on merchant ships based out of the Minas Basin including the barque Kent of Kentville, Nova Scotia.
Corporal Filip Konowal (15 September 1888 – 3 June 1959) was a highly decorated Ukrainian Canadian soldier. He is the only ethnic Eastern European recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy given to British and Commonwealth forces. He was also entitled to the Cross of St George, 4th Class.
He is the patron of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 360 (Konowal Branch) in Toronto.
The citation was published in a supplement to the London Gazette of 23 November 1917 (dated 26 November 1917).
On reaching the objective, a machine-gun was holding up the right flank, causing many casualties. Cpl. Konowal rushed forward and entered the emplacement, killed the crew, and brought the gun back to our lines.
The next day he again attacked single-handed another machine-gun emplacement, killed three of the crew, and destroyed the gun and emplacement with explosives.
This non-commissioned officer alone killed at least sixteen of the enemy, and during the two days' actual fighting carried on continuously his good work until severely wounded. For most conspicuous bravery and leadership when in charge of a section in the attack. His section had the difficult task of mopping up cellars, craters and machine-gun emplacements. Under his able direction, all resistance was overcome successfully, and heavy casualties inflicted on the enemy. In one cellar he himself bayonetted three enemies and attacked single-handed seven others in a crater, killing them all.
Flying Captain Billy Bishop (8 February 1894 – 11 September 1956) was a Canadian flying ace of the First World War.
He was officially credited with 72 victories, making him the top Canadian and British Empire ace of the war. He was an Air Marshal and a Victoria Cross recipient.
During the Second World War, Bishop was instrumental in setting up and promoting the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.
Bishop was born in Owen Sound, Ontario. He was the third of four children born to William Avery Bishop Sr. and Margaret Louisa (Green) Bishop. His father, a lawyer and graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, Ontario, was the Registrar of Grey County. Attending Owen Sound Collegiate and Vocational Institute, Bishop earned the reputation of a fighter, defending himself and others easily against bullies. He avoided team sports, preferring solitary pursuits such as swimming, horse riding, and shooting. Bishop was less successful at his studies; he would abandon any subject he could not easily master, and was often absent from class.
At the age of 15, Bishop built an aircraft out of cardboard, wooden crates, and string, and made an attempt to fly off the roof of his three-story house. He was dug, unharmed, out of the wreckage by his sister.
In 1911, Billy Bishop entered the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) in Kingston, Ontario, where his brother Worth had graduated in 1903. At RMC, Bishop was known as "Bish" and "Bill". Bishop failed his first year at RMC, worked hard his second year but in his third year was caught cheating.
Captain Paul Triquet of Cabano (April 2, 1910 – August 8, 1980) was a Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for valour "in the face of the enemy" that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. Triquet held the rank of captain at the time of his VC award and went on to achieve the rank of brigadier-general.
Paul Triquet was a 33 years old captain in the Royal 22e Régiment (Royal 22nd Regiment, known colloquially in English as The Van Doos, an anglicized pronunciation of the French number twenty-two: vingt-deux), Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Infantry Corps during the Second World War when the following deed took place as part of the Moro River Campaign in Italy.
His VC citation reads: On 14 December 1943 during the attack on Casa Berardi, Italy, when all the other officers and half the men of his company had been killed or wounded, Captain Triquet dashed forward and, with the remaining men, broke through the enemy resistance. He then forced his way on with his small force – now reduced to two sergeants and 15 men – into a position on the outskirts of Casa Berardi. They held out against attacks from overwhelming numbers until the remainder of the battalion relieved them, the next day. Throughout the action, Captain Triquet's utter disregard for danger and his cheerful encouragement were an inspiration to his men.
Lieutenant Robert Hampton Gray (November 2, 1917 – August 9, 1945) was a Canadian naval officer, pilot, and recipient of the Victoria Cross (VC) during World War II, one of only two members of the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm to have been thus decorated in that war. (The other was Eugene Esmonde, a British pilot.) Gray is the last Canadian to win the Victoria Cross.
Gray was born in Trail, British Columbia, Canada, but resided from an early age in Nelson, where his father was a jeweller. In 1940, following education at the University of Alberta and University of British Columbia, where he completed his Bachelor of Arts and was a member of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RCNVR) at HMCS Tecumseh in Calgary, Alberta. Originally sent to England for training, Gray was sent back to Canada to train at RCAF Station Kingston.
As Gray's remains were never found, he was listed as missing in action and presumed dead. He is commemorated, with other Canadians who died or were buried at sea during the First and Second World Wars, at the Halifax Memorial in Point Pleasant Park, Halifax, Nova Scotia. The War Memorial Gym at University of British Columbia, Royal Canadian Legion hall in Nelson, numerous other sites in Nelson, and the wardroom of HMCS Tecumseh (his RCNVR home unit) also bear plaques in his honour.
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