Other symbols of Canada
Some objects, sites and structures in Canada have become either by traditional usage or by public perception, symbols by which Canadians identify themselves. These landmarks are also recognized by people around the world as being distinctly Canadian. Here are just a few examples of these unofficial symbols.
Alexander Muir wrote The Maple Leaf Forever as a song for Confederation in 1867; it was regarded as the national song for several decades. The coats of arms created the next year for Ontario and Quebec both included the maple leaf.
The maple leaf today appears on the penny. However, between 1876 and 1901, it appeared on all Canadian coins. The modern one-cent piece has two maple leaves on a common twig, a design that has gone almost unchanged since 1937.
During World War I, the maple leaf was included in the badge of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Since 1921, the arms of Canada have included three maple leaves as a distinctive Canadian emblem. Since the adoption of the national flag of Canada in 1965, the maple leaf has become Canada's most prominent symbol.
The seal is made of specially tempered steel, weighs 3.75 kilograms and is 12.7 centimetres in diameter. The seal dates back to the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada. A new seal will be struck for her successor.
The seal bears the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, in her robes, holding the orb and sceptre, and shows her sitting on the coronation chair. At the base is the Royal Arms of Canada.
The present seal was made by the Royal Canadian Mint. The inscriptions on it are in French and English. Previous Great Seals of Canada were inscribed in Latin.
The seal is kept by the Office of the Registrar General of Canada. The Registrar General is also Minister of Industry.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is Canada's national police force, responsible for enforcing the law, preventing crime and maintaining peace, order and security. The RCMP provides policing services at three different levels across Canada: federal, provincial/territorial and municipal. Even though the RCMP is a modern police force, the scarlet tunic and the black horse remain an important part of the force's traditions and form part of Canada's national identity, as seen in the popular Musical Ride ceremony.
Reprinted with the permission of the RCMP
The Parliament Buildings
In 1841, Lower Canada (now Quebec) and Upper Canada (now Ontario) joined to form the Province of Canada. Its seat of government alternated for many years. In 1857, Queen Victoria was asked to select a permanent capital.
Surprisingly, the Queen chose the rough-and-ready lumber town of Ottawa over the established cities of Toronto, Kingston, Montréal and Québec City. Not only was Ottawa a political compromise but it also lay a more secure distance from the American border.
The Centre, East and West blocks of the Parliament Buildings were built between 1859 and 1866 (excluding the Tower and Library). One year after their completion, Confederation occurred, and the buildings were immediately chosen as the seat of government for the new Dominion of Canada.
Canada had not celebrated its first half-century when tragedy struck. On February 3, 1916, a small fire started in the Commons Reading Room in the Centre Block. It soon grew to a raging blaze that claimed seven lives and reduced all but the northwest wing and the Library to a charred shell.
Canada began rebuilding its Parliament while still fighting in the First World War. The new structure, designed in the Modern Gothic Revival style by John Pearson and Jean Omer Marchand, was completed by 1922. The Peace Tower was finished later, in 1927.