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The Maple Leaf Garland

Last modified: 2023-01-07 by rob raeside
Keywords: maple leaf | garland: maple leaf | canada: governor general | canada:lieutenant governors |
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See also

Garlands on Union Jacks

Sometimes called a "wreath" but that is just an alternative name for a "garland".

Garlands around badges emblazoned in the centre of Union Jacks were instituted by an Order in Council of 7th August 1869.

"... Union Jack to be displayed by the Military Branch of your Majesty's Service on such occasions shall bear in the centre thereof, as a distinguishing mark, the Royal Initials surrounded by a garland on a blue Shield, ....".

The accompanying drawing shows a garland, similar to the sort of wreath/garland worn on the head as a sign of honour in Classical times. This was changed in 1874 to a simpler design; clusters of three leaves alternating with two red berries, tied at the base with a blue ribbon.

There were one or two attempts at individuality.

  • Prince Edward Island submitted a design with a garland of thistles, shamrock and roses;
  • British Columbia's had laurel on one side and oak on the other;
  • British Honduras a garland of what were probably mahogany leaves that completely covered the space between the edges of the ornamental shield and the normal position of the garland.

I think they were just proposals and not approved for use.

A maple leaf garland tied with a gold ribbon was authorized for the Governor-General of Canada by the Secretary of State for the Colonies in 1870. This was extended to Lieutenant-Governors of Canadian Provinces. (Not Newfoundland which did not become a Province of Canada until 1949 and as far as I know retained the laurel garland until 1987 when the current blue Lieutenant-Governor's flag was adopted).

Maple-leaf garlands:-

Other variations of the garland, until the flag was abolished, or replaced by a blue flag with a royal crest and scroll.

  • Australia; gold circlet and ears of corn 1908-1936.
  • Burma; turquoise leaves (teak?); 1937-1948. (note: No colonial flags shown)
  • New Zealand; fern leaves 1907-c1935.
  • Northern Ireland; thick green wreath c1924-1973. (note: image not available)
  • South Africa; mimosa sprays 1910-1931.

There are significant errors in two major flag books.

Flag of Stars, F.Cayley 1966. Double error. Shows the seven-point star in a laurel garland as the flag of the Governor General, thirty years after it was replaced by the Royal Crest on a blue flag.

Admiralty Flag Books 1889 and 1907. No indication that the garland on the flag of the Governor-General of Canada is other than standard laurel-leaf until the 1916 edition.
David Prothero, 4 December 1999

Garland on a 1 sou bank token

[Garland on a 1 sou bank token] image located by Marc Pasquin, 21 December 2022

An 1837 "Banque du Peuple" {"People's Bank"} 1 sou bank token (equivalent to half a British penny) from the colony of Lower Canada (modern days southern Quebec).
One interesting aspect of this token is that it is (as far as I've been able to ascertain) the first time the maple leaf was used on a physical object to represent "Canadianness".
To put it into context, unlike other large banks in the colony (who mainly catered to a largely British merchant clientele), the "Banque du Peuple" catered mainly to french-canadians hence, more than likely, its use of a local symbol instead of the laurel wreath used by most other bank.
Marc Pasquin, 21 December 2022

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