National symbols are important elements that represent a country’s identity, traditions, and values. Canada, like many other nations, has several national symbols reflecting distinct identity and heritage. Some of the most notable national symbols of Canada include the beaver, the maple leaf, the colours red and white, and more.
What is the national animal of Canada? What is the significance of maple in Canada? Let’s find out 7 other interesting facts about Canada’s national symbols.
1. What is the National Animal of Canada?
Canada’s national animal is the beaver. Beavers are semiaquatic. They are very large rodents only second to the Capybaras in the world making them the largest in North America. Although beavers have been a major part of Canada’s historical and cultural identities, they were officially considered the national animal of Canada after the passing of the National Symbol of Canada Act in 1975.
The beaver can be found on various Canadian government buildings and institutes such as the Canadian Pacific Railway Company.
1.1. Why is the Beaver the National Animal of Canada?
When European explorers settled in Canada to expand their hold over North America, they found a lack of desirable trading items such as spices. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the Canadian cold demanded naturally occurring warm clothing. Hence, the attention shifted toward beavers and their pelts. Beaver pelts were used to make fur hats and fur coats among other in-demand clothing articles.
The beaver fur trade was popularized by King Henry IV of France who used the fur trade as a tactic to expand his North American empire. The fur trade proved to be highly profitable for the French and Britishers alike who were selling them to their home continent for twenty times the original price.
1.1.1. How Has the Beaver Been Honored in Canada?
Due to the significant role beavers played in Canada’s history, Canadians have honoured the animal in various ways:
1. Sir William Alexander was a poet of Scottish origin and played a role in the Scottish colonization of Nova Scotia in the year 1629. Including the beavers on the Canadian coat of arms for the first time was accomplished by him.
2. The Hudson’s Bay Company was an American business hugely profiting from the fur trade. In 1678, to express their gratitude towards the contribution of beavers to their business they put four beavers on the shield of their coat of arms.
3. Beavers are featured on Canadian coins known as “bucks”. One male beaver pelt is directly proportional to one buck. The beaver made an appearance on the first Canadian postage stamp created by Sir Sandford Fleming in 1851. These stamps were called the Three Penny Beaver.
There was a debate in the Canadian parliament to declare the polar bear as the country’s national animal but it was majorly opposed. The polar bear was supposed to be a symbol representing climate change.
The Canadian beaver was almost hunted to extinction during the fur trade by the mid-nineteenth century. Gradually the demand for beaver fur declined and the path was cleared for materials derived from silk. Presently the beaver population has been restored thanks to the efforts of the animal conservation teams. Now beavers can be found wandering around in all parts of Canada.
1.2. National Horse of Canada
The Canadian Horse is the national horse of Canada. It is also popular as the “Little Horse of Steel”. The breed is a descendant of the horses brought to the country by French settlers in the 17th century. The Canadian Horse has developed into a hardy, adaptable, and agile horse well suited to the harsh Canadian climate and landscape. This breed is also known for its tame temper.
The Canadian Horse played an important role in the country’s history, serving as a mount for Canadian soldiers during the world wars and as a workhorse on Canadian farms. The breed was in decline by the 20th century but it was saved from extinction by the efforts of dedicated breeders.
2. Other National Symbols of Canada
2.1. The Coat of Arms
The coat of arms serves as the official symbol representing a country, in this case, Canada. The coat of arms played an important role in the Middle Ages when wars were raging on battlefields. The coat of arms was used as a distinction between enemies and collaborators. At present, the coat of arms is a representation of patriotism for the country. It is an essential part of Canadian identity.
2.1.1. The Canada Coat of Arms
King George V introduced the Canada Coat of Arms in 1921. Canada was under the rule of the British Empire during that period. Hence their coat of arms has many features corresponding to British symbols and logos. In 1994, the Canada Coat of Arms was modified to include a circular red ribbon to include the Order of Canada motto. The motto originally in Latin translates to ‘They desire a better country’.
2.1.2. Canada Coat of Arms Design
Cathy Bursey-Sabourin designed Canada’s currently visualized coat of arms. It is similar to the original coat of arms demonstrated by King George V.
The design of the Canadian coat of arms displays the symbolic representations of the four founding nations of Canada. These are England, Scotland, France, and Ireland. Three royal lions stand for England and another royal lion stands for Scotland. The royal fleur-de-lis has been taken from France and the royal Irish Harp of Tara from Ireland.
The design includes floral depictions of each founding nation, such as a rose from England, a thistle from Scotland, the fleur-de-lis from France, and a shamrock from Ireland.
The English lion is shown holding the Royal Union Flag, and the Scottish unicorn is holding the flag of Royal France. The Royal Crown sits at the top of the Canada Coat of Arms which indicates the historical significance of Britain with Canada.
2.1.3. Motto of Canada Coat of Arms
At the bottom of the Canadian coat of arms is a Latin inscription stating ‘A Mari Usque ad Mare’. It translates to ‘From Sea to Sea’. This motto of Canada describes the boundlessness of the country with its diversity and vast coasts.
The Canadian coat of arms can be seen on important government buildings and official Canadian documents. The symbol can also be seen on badges worn by Canadian Armed Forces.
2.2. National Flag of Canada
The National Flag of Canada is a red and white flag featuring a stylized maple leaf in its center. The colours red and white symbolize the country’s ties to both France and Britain. The colours are also a representation of snow and maple which can be found in abundance in the country.
The flag was adopted in 1965. It was designed by George Beers and Jacques Vachon and inspired by the flag of the Royal Military College of Canada.
The Canadian flag is often referred to as the ‘Maple Leaf’ and is considered a unifying symbol for the country. It can be found in public places such as government buildings. It is also used in Canadian emblems and logos including the Canadian coat of arms and the Canadian Olympic teams’ uniforms.
The national flag of Canada is an integral part of Canadian heritage and symbolizes the country’s values, history, and cultural identity. The flag stands for peace, hope, and prosperity for the country.
2.3. National Anthem of Canada
“O Canada” is the national anthem of Canada. The song was written in French in 1880 by Adolphe-Basile Routhier and was set to music by Calixa Lavallée in the same year. The song was translated into English by Judge Robert Stanley Weir in 1908. The anthem was officially proclaimed as Canada’s national anthem on 1 July 1980 by an Order in Council.
The national anthem expresses the pride and patriotism of Canadians and includes references to the country’s natural beauty, history, and traditions. Its lyrics also mention the beauty of the country’s lakes and forests and the bravery and loyalty of its citizens. The song pays tribute to the contributions of Indigenous people and French Canadians to the nation’s development.
2.4. National Colors of Canada
Canada’s national colours, red and white, were officially declared in 1921 by King George V when he established the coat of arms.
Although the significant history of these colours can be traced way back into history, during the First Crusade in the 11th century. The knights led by Norman lord Bohemand I wore uniforms with a design of red crosses on white tunics. This design helped the crusaders distinguish themselves from their enemies.
Later these colours made their way into the Canadian flag. Red represents bravery and vigour, whereas white represents peace, loyalty, and virtue.
2.5. The Maple Leaf Tartan
The Canadian government 2011 declared the Maple Leaf Tartan as a national symbol. In 1964 it was created by David Weiser who was a Scottish weaver.
The iconic design is a pattern of red, brown, gold, and green stripes interlocking with each other. The design represents the transforming colours of the maple leaves on the maple tree throughout the year. Green represents the summer season, gold represents autumn, and red and brown represent the different stages of winter in Canada.
The Maple Leaf tartan can be seen adorned by The Royal Canadian Regiment Pipes and Drums. These are the official musical officers of the Canadian Armed Forces. It is also a part of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th battalions uniforms of the Royal Canadian Regiment.
2.6. National Sports of Canada
Canadian government 12 May 1994 passed the National Sports of Canada Act. Canada declared ice hockey as the national winter sport of the country, whereas lacrosse was declared the national summer sport of the country.
Hopefully, we have answered your curiosity about what is the national animal of Canada. Canada is a beautiful country with rich history and traditions. The above-stated symbols are representations of Canada’s unique identity.