The Arms of Alberta

This coat of arms was scanned from a booklet published by the provincial government as part of the 1980 "Alberta 75" celebrations of the anniversary of the formation of the province. Any mistakes made in the coat of arms are thus the fault of the government or the scanner; any mistakes in the description are my own.

The lion supporting the shield represents the British descent of many Albertan settlers (and is the same as the lion supporting the Canadian and British arms), while the pronghorn is found in abundance in southern Alberta (being from northern Alberta, I think they should have used a moose). The beaver was once very common in Alberta, and is one of the major reasons the Europeans came here in the first place. The Cross of St. George in the chief (top part of the shield) also celebrates the English heritage of many Albertans when the arms were granted (I was recently flamed by a francophile for referring to them as the "early settlers", since I was ignoring the First Nations and the French, who, as everyone knows, were here first and second, respectively. He then went on to say that the lion, crown, and cross represented nothing more than Alberta's anglocentric bigotry. While he is entitled to his opinions, and I admit my original choice of words was poor, I think he sees bigotry because he decided it was there prior to looking for it). The cross of St. George is also highly reminiscient of the arms of the Hudson's Bay company, who were the fur traders who helped bring Europeans into the prairies. The rest of the shield is generally considered really bad heraldry, because it consists not so much of representative symbols as a simple picture of Alberta's wheat fields, plains, hills and mountains (I have read that it was supposedly inspired in a government official by a similar picture on a cereal package!). The ground beneath the supporters is covered by the wild rose. The motto FORTIS ET LIBER, is Latin for "Strong and Free".

Alberta's floral emblem is, of course, the wild rose (which is why all the license plates on our cars say "Wild Rose Country".)

The official bird of Alberta is the Great Horned Owl, and the provincial beast is the bighorn sheep (which makes you wonder why there isn't a bighorn instead of a pronghorn supporting the shield. Go figure.)

There is an official version of this page on the government's home page, which also mentions things like the official stone (petrified wood) and the official tree. It's also in black and white, which is a shame - neither armourial bearings nor floral emblems are done justice without colour. But I suppose the government thinks it's saving money that way (and our government needs to scrimp and save on everything so that it can afford to subsidize corporations by half a billion dollars a year).

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© The Mad Alchemist 1999 - 2001

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