Symbols of British Columbia
Columbia's Coat of Arms
(click on image for full history)
The shield of
the province of British Columbia was originally granted by King
Edward VII in 1906; the remaining elements of the Coat of Arms were
subsequently granted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on October
15, 1987. A complete history is available here.
of several elements that hold historical, geographical and cultural
significance for British Columbia:
The Union Jack
on the shield symbolizes our colonial origins. Our geographic location
between the Pacific Ocean and the Rocky Mountains is represented
by the wavy blue and silver bars and the setting sun.
the stag and the ram, represent the former colonies of Vancouver
Island and British Columbia. The stag (elk) represents Vancouver
Island and the ram (bighorn sheep) represents the mainland of the
The Royal Crest
(the crowned lion standing on the crown), wears a collar of dogwood
flowers, and sits atop the golden helmet of sovereignty. Traditional
heraldic elements of a wreath and mantling represent Canada's national
colours. The golden helmet of sovereignty is placed between the
shield and the crest to mark B.C.'s co-sovereign status in Confederation.
flower, the dogwood, appears a second time entwining the Latin motto
"Splendor Sine Occasu" which translates as "Splendour
Columbia's Provincial Flag
Adopted in 1960,
the Provincial flag duplicates the design of the Shield of Arms
of the Province. Its proportion is five by length and three by width.
Dogwood - Provincial Flower
dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) was adopted in 1956 as British Columbia's
floral emblem. The Pacific Dogwood is a tree that grows six to eight
metres high and flowers in April and May. In the autumn it is conspicuous
for its cluster of bright red berries and brilliant foliage.
Jay - Provincial Bird
jay (Cyanacitta stelleri) became the Province's official bird on
December 17, 1987. Coloured a vibrant blue and black, it is found
throughout the Province. This lively, smart and cheeky bird was
voted most popular bird by the people of British Columbia.
Bear - Provincial Mammal
The Spirit Bear
(also known as the Kermode Bear, Ursus americanus kermodei) was
added to the list of B.C.'s official symbols in April 2006. The
greatest concentration of Spirit Bears can be found on the Central
Coast and North Coast of British Columbia. The Spirit Bear is not
albino, but rather it is a black bear that has white fur due to
a rare genetic trait.
- Provincial Gemstone
the official mineral emblem in 1968. Consisting mostly of nephrite,
BC jade is prized by carvers of fine jewelry and sculptures at home
and particularly in Asia. It is mined in many parts of British Columbia.
Red Cedar - Provincial Tree
Red Cedar (Thuja plicata donn) was adopted as the official tree
of the province on February 18, 1988. Historically, the tree has
played a key role in the lives of west coast First Nations, and
continues to be a valuable resource for the province.
Columbia's Provincial Tartan
tartan has five colours, each with its own significance: blue for
the ocean; white for the dogwood; green for the forests; red for
the maple leaf; and gold for the crown and sun on the shield and
flag. The tartan was adopted in 1974.
Use of "British
Columbia" in a name
The use of the
initials "B.C." or the words "British Columbia"
in a name is restricted by the Provincial
Symbols and Honours Act. The act ensures that individuals
or organizations do not provide the impression of exercising a function
of the Government, when in fact there is no authority to do so.
or organization wishing to use "BC" or "British Columbia"
in a name, is required to submit an application to the Protocol
Office. To have a copy mailed or faxed to you, please contact
us. The form is also available for download in Word or PDF format.