Mayday Books

Mayday Books has existed on the West Bank of the University of Minnesota since the early 1990s. It was an institution when I was in graduate school and I notice that it’s still going strong. It even has its own Wikipedia page, from which this photo is taken:


We stopped by recently. I like how it is still home to an old-school leftist sensibility concerned about the exploitation of workers, not just the more recent “woke,” CRT stuff. 

A flag for the collection: that of the Japanese Communist Party.

Another discovery: the poem The Story of Mouseland, available as a print. I didn’t get a photo of it, but I was pleased to discover that it has Canadian origins, and was famously narrated by Tommy Douglas, premier of Saskatchewan and important early member of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, which became the New Democratic Party of Canada. (Neither the CCF nor the NDP ever formed a government at the federal level, but their policy of single-payer universal healthcare, which Douglas introduced to Saskatchewan, was later implemented for the entire country.) A video of The Story of Mouseland, introduced by Douglas’s grandson Kiefer Sutherland, may be seen on YouTube; the text may be read at the NDP of Canada Wiki. In American terms, it is the sort of appeal that Ralph Nader and Bernie Sanders made: that there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the two major political parties, which are both owned by special interests, and for a government that cares about actual people you have to vote for the outsider.

National Songs and Poetical Pieces

The book referenced below, Hugh Williams, ed., National Songs and Poetical Pieces Dedicated to the Queen and her Countrywomen (London: Hetherington, 1839), illustrates just how informative and fun primary sources can be. For instance, I was completely unaware of Nils von Schoultz (1807-38), a military officer of Finnish-Swedish origin who served in Poland against the Russians and who eventually ended up in the United States, became interested in the Canadian cause, and led a small force that invaded Canada in the wake of the failed Rebellions of 1837. These border skirmishes are designated the Patriot War, and I confess that I did not know about them either, although it makes complete sense that certain Americans would look with favor on the Canadian rebels and try to help them. Von Schoultz was a participant in the Battle of the Windmill in November 1838, during which time his force, having failed to take the town of Prescott, occupied a stone windmill at nearby Newport for four days before surrendering to the British (and Americans – apparently the United States government did not support this freelance invasion). Von Schoultz was put on trial, at which he expressed remorse for his actions and, contrary to the advice of his lawyer, future Prime Minister John A. Macdonald, pleaded guilty. As a consequence he was hanged at Kingston’s Fort Henry on December 8, 1838, at the age of 31. 

But that’s a somewhat neutral account, gleaned from the font of all knowledge. Here is how National Songs puts it:

There is a proud gratification in contemplating brilliant illustrations of the sprit of liberty, however melancholy, when clouded by the frowns, not of fortune, for liberty must eventually triumph, but of the hitherto overbalancing power of despotism.

Tyranny has recently added to its blood-stained catalogue, one of the brightest characters that ever humanity produced, freedom inspired, or history recorded. Where the Russian miscreant failed, English despots too well succeeded.

Neil S. Von Shoultz was a native of Poland, of prepossessing appearance and mild manners. His father was a major of a regiment at Cracow. His unfortunate and gallant son was compelled to emigrate to the United States in 1836, where congenial impulses for the suffering Canadians, led him to an untimely end, at the age of thirty-one.

He undertook an expedition for their liberation, and in command of a small body of American citizens, and Canadian refugees, gained a signal victory over a superior British force, at Prescott, U.C., on the 13th of November, 1838. The English afterwards returned to the charge with overwhelming reinforcements, and hemmed in, massacred and captured what remained of the small and exhausted band, previously cut off from all communication with the opposite American shore, by the conniving authorities of the United States, in opposition to the wishes of an indignant border population. The deceived, but not discomfited Schoultz, fought his way through the ranks of the enemy, but having become exposed to the horrors of a Canadian winter, without food or shelter, was eventually taken prisoner, and met with that sort of reward which successful tyranny had ever allotted to revolutionary prowess. He was tried at Kingston, on the 8th of December, 1838, by court martial, composed possibly of vagabonds whom he had lately put to disgraceful fight, or of their associates; and the HERO of PRESCOTT, under the matter-of-course sanction of Colburne and Arthur, was immediately put to death in cold blood.

“Colburne” is Sir John Colborne, acting Governor General of British North America; “Arthur” is Sir George Arthur, Lt. Gov. of Upper Canada. That’s a rather different perspective, eh?! The text goes on to excoriate President Martin van Buren for selling out these “true friends of liberty,” contrary to the supposed political principles of the great American Republic. It’s a reminder how, in the early nineteenth century, the conflict between “liberty” and “order” transcended national boundaries and even the Atlantic Ocean. The Congress of Vienna was not successful at putting that genie back in its bottle. 

I’m amused to discover that the author blames the “Canadian winter” for Schoultz’s defeat! Apparently it’s not just Russia’s greatest general

Then there are three separate poems that praise the “tricoloured flag.” According to one of them, the flag of Revolutionary France, a vertical tricolor of blue, white, and red, made tricolors symbolic of “liberty”:

Hail emblem of Liberty, spirit of light,
Thou sheerest my heart, and thou gladdest my sight
Thou beacon of hope to the good and the brave,
Thou foe to the tyrant, thou friend to the slave.
Ere long Britain’s sons shall awake from their trance,
And hail thy bright form like Republican France;
And the time draws nigh, when thy banner unfurl’d
Shall wave in proud triumph all over the world.
Hail tri-coloured flag!
Hail tri-coloured flag!

Note, though, that by the 1830s, tricolors did not necessarily represent republicanism. For instance, Louis-Philippe, France’s “citizen-king” who came to power in 1830, readopted the revolutionary tricolor to represent his regime, and the Belgians, whose state was born in the same year as the result of a rebellion against the Dutch, adopted a vertical tricolor of black, gold, and red, even though Belgium was a monarchy from the start.

But according to this collection, the flag adopted by British fans of “liberty” had a different set of colors. In the poem “The Tri-Colour!”, we read:

“Hark! hark! ’tis the trumpet of LIBERTY sounds,
As the tricolor flag is unfurl’d;”
With joy at its notes “every bosom resounds,”
While the echo is heard o’er the world.
Her cause is as pure as the deep azure sky,
It cheers like the bright sunny ray, –
Refreshing and lively as nature’s green dye,
Ever gentle, unchanging, and gay.

In other words, the British tricolor is to be blue (“azure”), white (“bright”), and green. One sees a fuller explication of this idea in the introduction to the poem “Freedom’s Tri-Coloured Banner,” which poem was:

Composed on the occasion of the Writer’s presenting the Metropolitan, Merthyr, Pontypool, and Carmarthen Associations each with the first projected Tri-coloured banner – composed of green, white and blue, symbolical of the aspect of nature – the green earth, the solar light, and the ethereal blue. A banner with colours as predominant as EQUAL RIGHTS are universal; and now about to supersede the blood-stained standards of the old world, of ancient and modern tyranny, and so form the emblem of freedom, of fraternity and happiness to the rising millions!

A footnote to the poem suggests that the stripes are to be:

horizontal, and in the following proportions: – grass green below, two ninths of depth; white, centre, four-ninths, and the rest deep sky blue. 


The standard Radical flag will bear for its motto Universal Liberty along the center… with the Sun gilded on the upper staff quarter.

So of course I had to mash one up:

But I have not been able to find any other evidence for this flag, or any variants thereof, on the Internet. Note that it’s different from what Flags of the World claims was Flag of the English Republic:


And note that in both cases the stripes are horizontal, not vertical. This too is not necessarily republican, viz. the contemporary flags of the Netherlands and Russia, which were both horizontal tricolors representing monarchies, although horizontal stripes do allow for words and slogans to be written on them.

I would be curious to know just how popular Chartism (and/or English Republicanism) was in the 1830s. Did it command the sympathies of a majority of the working class? Or was it like the more recent anti-WTO or Occupy movements – something that got a certain amount of attention, but that was ultimately ignored by most people? 

The Empire Writes Back

I mentioned below that there was always a strain of anti-British, republican sentiment among the denizens of British North America. The most glaring expression of this occurred in 1837-38, when simultaneous rebellions broke out in Upper and Lower Canada, led by William Lyon Mackenzie and Joseph Papineau respectively.* In contrast to the republican experiment of the United States, the British had set up colonial administrations that attempted to replicate the social conditions of rural England, with a local “aristocracy” holding power and everyone else minding their station. Needless to say, as the nineteenth century wore on, this setup became less and less tolerable to ordinary people, and by 1837 a significant number of them had had enough of the “Family Compact” and “Château Clique,” derogatory nicknames for the regimes that ran Upper and Lower Canada. These rebellions were not successful, although they did inspire a number of reforms

When studying the history of your own country, you can become somewhat myopic. That is, you assume that since this is your history, it’s only interesting to you and your fellow citizens, and only really influenced the subsequent events in your own country. But people forget that local happenings often have an international impact. This was especially true within the British Empire, in which events in the metropole affected the colonies… and events in the colonies could reverberate throughout the empire. Apparently the Rebels of 1837 had a lot of British fans, particularly among the Chartists, that is, supporters of the People’s Charter of 1838, who thought that the Great Reform Act of 1832 had not gone far enough. Chartists demanded universal male suffrage, the secret ballot, proper salaries (and no property qualifications) for MPs, constituencies of equal population size, and annual elections. It is worth noting that eventually every one of these demands, except the last, was met – although not without the threat of serious violence always lurking in the background. 

From Stephen Basdeo, I was pleased to learn about the Chartist song “On, On! Ye Brave Canadians!“, written by one “S.R.G.” and published in London in 1839. I reprint it, and the author’s explanatory note, in their entirety:

On, on! ye brave Canadians, with Freedom’s flag unfurl’d,
Shout hatred to Usurpers, to the despots of the world;
Long may ye stand, ye gallant band—make ramparts of your slain,
And drive the hireling scoundrels to their Island Hell again.

Up, up! ye honest riflemen, bold freemen of the States,
And aid your brothers in the strife their Mother Hag creates;
Bring over hempen-neckerchiefs for every bully’s neck,
And string or shoot them one and all, from Huron to Quebec.

The millions of the British Isles are with ye, heart and soul—
But, oh! their country’s destinies are wrench’d from their control;
They’d rather that Britannia’s flag should down to dust be hurl’d,
Than be, as ’tis, protection to the tyrants of the world.

Up!—French and British—both are men—both children of one sire,—
And both alas! are buried to their chins in British mire!
Then, on! ye brave Canadians, despite their martial law,
Nine glorious cheers for LIBERTY and three for PAPINEAU!

There is no country on the face of the earth where despotisms prevails with more horrible atrocity than in Canada. We can well conceive the sort of sympathies entertained by the Melbourne and Russell government, when they permitted that splendid colony to be devastated by inhuman fiends, whose names shall be consigned to eternal infamy, as samples of the cannibal spirit of aristocratic domination. May our beneficent CREATOR grant that the British People may yet prove the liberators of the brave, bleeding, and prostrate Canadians!

Other poems in the collection include “A Rhyme for Canada” (“The rifle is heard, and the flag is unfurl’d, A land to be free is a boon to the world”), “The Canadian Exile’s Invocation to his Country,” and “Canadian Ode to Liberty”:

When the proud land of Britain would sternly maintain
Over far distant lands her tyrannical reign;
When she sends forth her slaves to destroy Freedom’s sons,
May each slave that she sends prove a mark for their guns.

It’s always flattering to learn that your country is more consequential than you thought. I note that a proposed British republican flag was simply an inverted Patriote flag. (Although I don’t endorse all these sentiments. I would not describe the Upper Canadian government as a “despotism” ruling with “horrible atrocity,” for instance.)

* Canada’s contribution to the Republican cause during the Spanish Civil War took the name “Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion,” or “Mac-Paps.”

Dominion Day

A happy Dominion Day to my fellow Canadians. To celebrate, I post something I found as the result of an image search.

It’s a nine-quartered Canadian coat of arms from a Wedgewood plate manufactured c. 1910. Alberta and Saskatchewan had been admitted to Confederation in 1905, raising the number of provinces (and thus sections in the national coat of arms) to nine. But this plate does something rather strange: Saskatchewan’s coat of arms (featuring a lion and three wheat sheaves) appears in the sixth quarter, but Alberta is nowhere to be found! Instead, E.M. Chadwick’s proposal for the arms of Yukon Territory sits in the second quarter. 

I have never seen a Canadian coat of arms arranged like this. What they were thinking? (UPDATE: I discover that Auguste Vachon has also noticed this rendition – see Figure 11 at the link.) 

To rectify this oversight, I post a stained glass version of Alberta’s coat of arms, which features a scene of mountains and prairie, underneath a cross of St. George.

This window may be seen in the Canadian Memorial United Church in Vancouver, B.C. The stained glass was manufactured in 1927 by Robert McCausland in Toronto.

In the lobby of the Holiday Inn, St. John’s, Nfld. JG.

And in fairness, I should also post the arms of Newfoundland and Labrador, admitted to Confederation in 1949 (but never featured on an amalgamated coat of arms).

Once again: Happy Dominion Day!


To a post from a few years ago

Brilliant Maps.

This is what North America would have looked like had Nathaniel P. Banks’s Annexation Bill of 1866 passed into law, and been accepted by the United Kingdom. When I originally posted this, I noticed that Newfoundland (and Labrador) had disappeared, when that colony had an independent existence in 1866; I might have added that Vancouver Island was separate from British Columbia, and neither Canada West nor Canada East extended as far north as the map indicates. But I was not paying attention – the boundaries on this map were prescribed by the Bill itself, whose full text can be read on Wikisource. Banks wanted these states and territories admitted to the U.S. under the following conditions:

(1) New Brunswick, with its present limits
(2) Nova Scotia, with the addition of Prince Edward Island
(3) Canada East, with the addition of Newfoundland and all territory east of longitude eighty degrees and south of Hudson’s strait
(4) Canada West, with the addition of territory south of Hudson’s bay and between longitude eighty degrees longitude ninety degrees
(5) Selkirk Territory, bounded east by longitude ninety degrees, south by the late boundary of the United States, west by longitude one hundred and five degrees, and north by the Arctic circle
(6) Saskatchewan Territory, bounded east by longitude one hundred and five degrees, south by latitude forty-nine degrees, west by the Rocky mountains, and north by latitude seventy degrees
(7) Columbia Territory, including Vancouver’s Island, and Queen Charlotte’s island, and bounded east and north by the Rocky mountains, south by latitude forty-nine degrees, and west by the Pacific ocean and Russian America.

The bill was sent to committee and never made it out, and was not introduced to the Senate. One wonders why. The idea that the United States had a Manifest Destiny to rule the entire continent was especially powerful following the Civil War (thus the purchase of “Russian America” in 1867), and British North America, as representing the rump state of the previous regime, was especially illegitimate to a certain type of American expansionist. Banks was also interested in appealing to Irish Americans, who hated the British for obvious reasons, and northerners in general, who were peeved about Britain’s perceived support for the Confederacy in the late Civil War. But I guess this project was a step too far for other powerful people in Washington. I assume that they did not want to risk offending what was by that point the preeminent world power. 

I wonder what subsequent history would have looked like had Banks’s vision come to pass. I assume that the map would have undergone numerous changes, as the territories were subdivided and new states admitted to the Union. I think that Canada’s Francophones would have retained their culture and religion and would eventually have launched a secessionist movement against the United States, as they did against Canada in the 1960s. But would those who became English-Canadians have accepted their status as “Americans”? Much as I hate to say it, they probably would have eventually. There was always a strain of republican, pro-American sentiment among the Anglophones of British North America, and once the US replaced the UK as a world superpower, I think that this sentiment would probably have taken over and become their default outlook. And since the Annexation Bill would have passed prior to Canadian Confederation, people wouldn’t even be able to look back with fondness on a time when they had their own country, as Texans do. (Although I should think there would still persist some “northern” cultural characteristics, parallel to those of the Midwest, Pacific Northwest, New England, etc.)

Joachim von Ribbentrop

You’ve probably heard the name before: he was Nazi Germany’s Foreign Affairs Minister and as such played a role in starting World War II (e.g. “Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact”) and in facilitating the Holocaust. For these activities he was tried, convicted, and executed at Nuremberg in 1946. What I did not know is that he had a Canadian connection: starting in 1910 he worked in Montreal, variously at Molson’s Bank, for an engineering firm that reconstructed the Quebec Bridge, for the National Transcontinental Railway, and finally for his own company that imported German wines to Ottawa. In 1914, he skated for Ottawa’s famous Minto figure skating team, even, according to Wikipedia, participating in the Ellis Memorial Trophy tournament in Boston. Of course, when Britain declared war on Germany on August 4, 1914, Canada immediately followed suit, and von Ribbentrop had to escape to Germany via New Jersey. I don’t believe he ever visited Canada again. 

Hat tip to Ron Good. I don’t think they’ll be making a Canadian Heritage Minute out of this one. 

Farley Mowat and the V2

An interesting story on

How author Farley Mowat smuggled a V2 rocket into Canada

A former Canadian intelligence officer believes author Farley Mowat carried out one of the most brazen acts by Canadian intelligence shortly following the Second World War.

Mowat, whose novels include Owls in the Family and Never Cry Wolf — was an officer with the Canadian military during WWII, then served with military intelligence after the war.

Major Harold Skaarup is a 40-year veteran of the Canadian Forces where he served as an intelligence officer. Since retiring in 2011, he has written numerous books on military history.

Skaarup tells The Current’s Matt Galloway of Mowat’s post-war escapades after being tasked with retrieving items of intelligence value from Europe.

Here is part of their conversation: 

Tell me about Captain Farley Mowat’s work with Canadian intelligence. When the Second World War ended… what was he doing?

He’d been serving with the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment as an infantry officer and was seconded to the Department of the Director of History and Heritage in Ottawa — technically, the intelligence people. He was given a very straightforward task with the war over in Germany: go over and find anything and everything of intelligence value that you think would be useful to the Canadian government and the forces and get it back to us. 

He set out… with a vengeance and he managed to get back seven hundred tons of captured material, tanks, guns, artillery, and most interestingly of all, the V2.

How did Farley Mowat find a V2 rocket?

It’s complicated, but to squeeze it down into bits and pieces — he’d been working with the Dutch resistance; they got word to him that there are a bunch of V2s located in central Germany. 

The British Army — 21st Army group in particular — came out and said no one else is to get these, a specific order. They did not want Canada to have this technology. [The order] hadn’t actually gone to print yet, and Farley’s CO got wind of this and he said, ‘See if you can get us one.’ 

He grabbed a young lieutenant, Mike Donovan, and Lieutenant Jim Hood, and he set out with a plan. They knew that there was a railway siding with about ten of these rockets on it, most of them being pretty shot up, but at least one was intact.

He knew that the British probably wouldn’t let him have it, but he came up with this plan. Mike Donovan, he takes a 30 litre demijohn of Coopers Gin, goes down with the Jeep and he intercepts the British soldiers guarding this trainload. And he manages to get them all singing and drinking, saying, “We know we’re not going to get a rocket from you, but let’s enjoy being comrades together.” 

While he’s doing that, Farley’s lieutenant, Jim Hood, sneaks around in the dark to the tail end of the railway tracks finds an intact V2. They’ve got a tractor trailer with them that was used for towing a submarine. They break the chains and they roll this V2 rocket off the doggone railway siding car onto the trailer and then barrel it on back to Holland.

Sounds like something out of a Steve McQueen film or something. 

Along the way, they’re calling all the guard postings saying, “We’ve got unexploded ordnance, we want to get this to the ocean, get out of the way.” And guards open the gates for them. 

So… now, there’s a problem. It doesn’t take long for the Brits to realize that of all these shot up V2s, the only one that’s intact is suddenly missing. So the hunt is on. 

Farley sees the thing being wheeled into a hangar where he’s based in Holland and he immediately gets down and he orders a bunch of crew to build a wooden conning tower and attach a gigantic propeller to this V2 rocket. And then they begin painting their brains out, slapping blue paint up and down and on the side of this thing there to make it look like a mini submarine.

 And then they drag it out in the woods and hide it while the Brits are looking for it. Eventually… they get it to Montreal and take a Valcartier, where they begin to take the thing apart. 

There’s a bit more at the link. I would be curious to learn the exact provenance of this story – Mowat did have a habit of making things up

Loyalist Heraldry in Canada

A short article of mine has just appeared in The Loyalist Gazette. I reprint it here.

It stands to reason that Canadians of Loyalist descent would be well disposed towards heraldry, a symbol-system that both identifies and serves as a mark of honour from the Crown. Prior to 1988, Canadian persons or corporations wishing to receive a legitimate grant of arms would apply to the College of Arms in London (or, if especially Scottish, to the Court of the Lord Lyon in Edinburgh). The United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada certainly did: in 1972, it received a grant of arms through the College of Arms which is doubtlessly familiar to all UELAC members.1

It’s a beautiful composition, and its meaning is straightforward. On the shield, thirteen swords and one tomahawk, all extending outwards, surround a crown, neatly symbolizing Loyalists from the thirteen colonies, and their Indian allies, who defended the monarch against the American revolutionaries. The symbolism is repeated on the crest: a colonist’s arm and a native’s arm both hold up the eighteenth-century British flag under which the Loyalists fought.

Photo by the author.

The UELAC was also granted a badge, a secondary mark useful for when a full coat of arms might be a little too elaborate. The UELAC badge consists of a cypher of King George III (1760-1820), surrounded by a wreath of maple leaves and oak leaves. I was pleased to see the badge in use on a sign for a UEL cemetery in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, last summer. As John Ruch once noted in the Loyalist Gazette: “the Royal Crown, the old Union Banner, and the Royal Cypher of George III can be granted only with Her Majesty’s permission. To receive any one of these is regarded as an especial honour, but to be given three is very rare indeed.”2

Persistent lobbying by the Heraldry Society of Canada paid off in 1988 when Prime Minister Brian Mulroney arranged for the foundation of the Canadian Heraldic Authority as a Canadian alternative to the College of Arms or the Court of the Lord Lyon.3 Since the CHA is headquartered in Ottawa, and not in London, and since the fees it charges are much lower than those required by the College of Arms, heraldry has become a lot more accessible to Canadians, whether individuals or corporations. By any metric the CHA has been a great success, having granted or registered over three thousand different arms, flags, and badges to worthy citizens over the course of its 32-year history. A new and enthusiastic Chief Herald of Canada, Samy Khalid, took office in June 2020 and is set to continue this legacy.

Canadians of Loyalist descent are understandably interested in recognizing their heritage, and the three symbols established by the grant of arms to UELAC in 1972 have all made appearances in grants of arms from the CHA. The most obvious is Great Britain’s eighteenth-century flag, a combination of the Cross of St. George and St. Andrew’s Saltire, the product of the parliamentary union of England and Scotland that went into effect in 1707. Since this flag was modified in 1801 by the addition of St. Patrick’s saltire for Ireland, in recognition of the Irish parliamentary union which took place that year, the previous version is now historic, and used quite a lot by UELAC to honour those who fought under it, as a perusal of this magazine demonstrates. Settlements with Loyalist connections have also availed themselves heraldically of the flag. The Town of Gananoque, Ontario (arms granted 2000) displays it on the top left of its shield.

One of the lion supporters in the arms of the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake (granted 2013) also holds it:

Loyalist-founded towns can also have it included it as a canton on their flags, as do the Town of Picton (1989) and Village of Bath (1997), both in Ontario. This design makes for a handsome flag, in the mode of Ontario’s flag or the old Canadian Red Ensign.

Our second symbol, the royal cypher of King George III, is also definitely historic, as it represents the actual king whom the Loyalists fought for. The Anglican Church in St. Andrews, N.B., founded by Loyalists, received a cypher of “GR” (for “Georgius Rex”) on its coat of arms, granted in 2006.

Photo by the author.

But as far as I am aware this is the only CHA grant to include this mark. It would be nice to see more use made of it. One might say that it is a little too detailed, and purists claim that letters do not belong on coats of arms, but the cypher does help to rescue George III from the calumny heaped upon him by the U.S. Declaration of Independence. (It would have been great if George III had a royal personal badge parallel to Richard II’s White Hart, Edward IV’s rose-en-soleil, or Richard III’s boar. However, this essentially medieval custom was abandoned by the eighteenth century in favor of royal cyphers.)

Yet the Loyalists were not just fighting for a particular king, but kingship in general. Our third symbol, the royal crown, unambiguously represents the monarchy as a concept, and not just a particular monarch. Insofar as Canada is still a monarchy, however, that also presents us with a slight problem. The crown is not just historic, it is current, and used by many official agencies to represent the power they exercise on behalf of the ultimate guarantor of it. It is likely that significant overlap exists between descendants of Loyalists and supporters of Canada’s monarchy, but these are two separate things, and it is good to maintain a symbolic distinction between them. Furthermore, the royal crown, as an emblem, is not available to just anyone. Generally, the only people allowed to put it on their own coats of arms are Governors General. What’s a good Canadian Loyalist to do, if he wants to represent his heritage?


The answer: use one of the two Loyalist coronets devised in the early days of the Canadian Heraldic Authority. The great thing about a coronet is that it references a crown without actually being one. The coronets consist of alternating maple leaves and oak leaves, as suggested by the wreath surrounding the royal cypher in the UELAC badge. This is a great combination: since they’re both leaves, they’re graphically parallel to each other; furthermore, the oak leaf is royal, representing a political principle; it’s not ethnically “English” necessarily. It is true that the Loyalists themselves might not have recognized a maple leaf as symbolic of their new homeland, but the maple leaf was certainly in use by 1867 to represent Canada and has remained a preeminent national symbol ever since. Finally, the Queen’s permission is not required to use a Loyalist coronet – only proof of descent of the sort required by UELAC.

As a graphical mark it has several advantages. It can be shown in any color or combination of colors. It can be shown on the shield in two dimensions, or on the crest or supporters in three dimensions – and since it is circular, it can surround some other object. A separate “military” coronet (with pairs of crossed swords) is reserved for the descendants of those who actually fought for the king in the Revolution; otherwise, the “civilian” coronet can be used by individuals or corporations alike. Several Loyalist coronets may be seen in the grants of arms above. Others appear in the shield of the City of Quinte West, Ontario (1998):

On the supporters of the arms of Albert College in Belleville, Ontario (2017):

And on all three of the shield, supporters, and crest of the Black Loyalist Heritage Society of Shelburne, N.S. (2006):

Four examples of Loyalist coronets in personal arms may be seen on the shields of Robert Bengry (2011), Kenneth Calder (2000), David Dorward (2004), and Kawartha Branch member David Rumball (2002). This is only a small sample of the many Loyalist coronets that the CHA has granted to Canadians of Loyalist descent.

One more heraldic symbol may be mentioned. As you can see on the arms of Gananoque above, Loyalist-founded settlements can sometimes depict actual Loyalists as their supporters. Gananoque’s is designated “a Loyalist woman tempore 1784.” The Village of Bath and Loyalist Township (formed from the amalgamation of Bath, Amherst Island, and Ernestown in 1999) both show a “woman habited as a Loyalist settler” and a “man habited in the uniform of the Jessup’s Loyal Rangers tempore 1784.” (Loyalist coronets and the 1707 Union Flag may also be seen in these grants.)

The problem with human supporters, however, is that they come with a very high opportunity cost. Any person depicted automatically excludes everyone else! Thus does the CHA tend to discourage them, although there can be no doubt, in these cases, whom they are supposed to represent.

Anyone interested in the possibility of a grant of arms (with or without any Loyalist symbolism) should contact the Chief Herald of Canada at Rideau Hall, 1 Sussex Dr., Ottawa, ON K1A 0A1, or by email at

Except where noted, all illustrations are from the Online Register of Arms, Flags, and Badges of Canada. Used by permission.


1. See Conrad Swan, “The Armorial Bearings of The United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada,” The Loyalist Gazette 10.2 (Autumn 1972).

2. John E. Ruch, “The Canadian Heraldic Authority and the Loyalists,” The Loyalist Gazette 28.2 (Autumn 1990).

3. See John E. Ruch, “An Heraldic Authority for Canada,” The Loyalist Gazette 26.2 (Autumn 1988).

Murdoch Mysteries

Historical characters I have learned about from watching Murdoch Mysteries:

Florence Nightingale Graham (1881-1966), who went by the business name Elizabeth Arden, was a Canadian-American businesswoman who founded what is now Elizabeth Arden, Inc. and built a cosmetics empire in the United States. By 1929, she owned 150 salons in Europe and the United States. Her 1,000 products were being sold in 22 countries. She was the sole owner, and at the peak of her career she was one of the wealthiest women in the world.

Dan Seavey, also known as “Roaring” Dan Seavey (1865-1949), was a sailor, fisherman, farmer, saloon keeper, prospector, U.S. marshal, thief, poacher, smuggler, hijacker, human trafficker, and timber pirate in Wisconsin and Michigan and on the Great Lakes in the late-19th to early-20th century.

John Joseph Kelso (1864-1935) was a newspaper reporter and social crusader who immigrated to Canada from Ireland with his family in 1874 when he was ten years old. They suffered hardships of hunger and cold in their early years in Toronto and, throughout his life, this motivated Kelso’s compassion towards the poor and unfortunate. While a reporter for the World and the Globe, Kelso founded the Toronto Humane Society in 1887 for the prevention of cruelty to children and animals, the Fresh Air Fund and the Santa Claus Fund in 1888 to provide excursions and cheer for poor women and children, and the Children’s Aid Society (Canada) in 1891.

John Ross Robertson (1841-1918) was a Canadian newspaper publisher, politician, and philanthropist. He was elected to the Canadian House of Commons for the electoral district of Toronto East in the 1896 federal election defeating the incumbent. The world of sports was also a focus for Robertson’s public-spiritedness. A fervent advocate of amateur sport, he served as president of the Ontario Hockey Association from 1899 to 1905, which was a critical time period in the history of the sport. His battle to protect hockey from the influence of professionalism caused him to be called the “father of Amateur Hockey in Ontario.”

Cassie L. Chadwick (1857-1907) was the most well-known pseudonym used by Canadian con artist Elizabeth Bigley, who defrauded several American banks out of millions of dollars during the late 1800s and early 1900s by claiming to be an illegitimate daughter and heiress of the Scottish-American industrialist Andrew Carnegie. Newspaper accounts of the time described her as one of the greatest con artists in American history. She pulled off the heist in the Gilded Age of American history, during which time women were not allowed to vote or get loans from the banks, leading some historians to refer to her bank heist as one of the greatest in American history.

Margaret Haile was a Canadian socialist in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a teacher and journalist by profession. She was active in the socialist movements in both Canada and the United States. Frederic Heath’s “Socialism in America,” published in January 1900 in the Social Democracy Red Book, lists her, along with Corinne Stubbs Brown and Eugene V. Debs, among “One Hundred Well-known Social Democrats”.

Clara Brett Martin (1874-1923), born to Abram and Elizabeth Martin, a well-to-do Anglican-Irish family, opened the way for women to become lawyers in Canada by being the first in the British Empire in 1897. In 1888, Martin was accepted to Trinity College in Toronto. And in 1890, Martin graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics at the age of sixteen, which was almost unheard of because of the masculinity associated with that field. In 1891, Martin submitted a petition to the Law Society of Upper Canada to permit her to become a student member, a prerequisite to articling as a clerk, attending lectures and sitting the exams required to receive a certificate of fitness to practice as a solicitor. Her petition was rejected by the Law Society after contentious debate, with the Special Committee reviewing the petition interpreting the statute which incorporated the Law Society as permitting only men to be admitted to the practice of law. W.D. Balfour sponsored a bill that provided that the word “person” in the Law Society’s statute should be interpreted to include females as well as males. Martin’s cause was also supported by prominent women of the day including Emily Stowe and Lady Aberdeen. With the support of the Premier, Oliver Mowat, legislation was passed on April 13, 1892, and permitted the admission of women as solicitors.

(Quotations from Wikipedia and Murdoch Mysteries Fandom)

Liberté! Liberté!

My friend Jerry Hales shared a YouTube video of a recent anti-lockdown protest in Montreal. Check out the flags on display!

A horizontal tricolour of green, white, and red, in a Canadian context, represents the Patriote movement of the 1830s.* The movement did not succeed in winning republican independence for Lower Canada but its flag remains in occasional use as a nationalist and “rebellious” statement.

A variant on the Patriote flag features a gold star in the top left and a superimposed figure of “Le Vieux de ’37,” from a painting done in 1880 illustrating an archetypical participant in the rebellion of 1837. This is designated the flag of the Mouvement de libération nationale du Québec, a separatist group founded in the wake of the 1995 referendum on independence. You’ll notice more than one of them if you watch the video. 

A friend comments:

Anti-mask demonstrations around the world seem to attract various members of the lunatic fringe and so the MLNQ would definitely fit the bill. Note though that the MLNQ doesn’t really seem to exist these days as a single, organised entity at least overtly as their website and affiliated sites went down some years ago. I suspect many people using the Patriotes flag, defaced or not, in this particular demonstration are using it as an anti-governmental or anti-conformist symbol more than anything.

I assume that the inverted Quebec flag is “anti-governmental”!

The current Quebec flag started life in 1902 as the Carillon-Sacré-Coeur flag, when Catholicism meant a lot more to French Canadians than it does now. My friend comments:

I would assume the bearer might be part of one of the local fringe Catholic group such the Pilgrims of Saint Michael (AKA “the White Berets”) who tend to mix integrist religious belief with various conspiracy theories.

It is rare to see expressions of pro-American sentiment in Canada. It is astounding to see pro-Trump sentiment. Craziness!

* The Patriote Movement broke out into armed rebellion in 1837. Both it and William Lyon Mackenzie’s simultaneous Upper Canada Rebellion are seminal events in Canadian history. The flag for Mackenzie’s “Republic of Canada” deserves to be better known.