British Columbia’s provincial flag was officially adopted in 1960. It duplicates the design on the Coat of Arms and Britain’s flag, the Union Jack, represents our colonial ties to the Crown and to England. BC’s geographic location between the Pacific Ocean and Rocky Mountains is symbolized by the blue waves and silver bars across the centre of the flag, and also by the setting sun, symbolizing BC as Canada’s westernmost province.
Coat of Arms
The Provincial Coat of Arms consists of four major parts; each a symbol of British Columbia. The Union Jack and the Provincial Flag both appear on the shield, signifying both our British colonial ties, and our independence. The supporters, the ram and the stag, also represent the former colonies of British Columbia and Vancouver Island. The Royal Crest (the crowned red lion standing on crown) sits atop the Golden Helmet of Sovereignty, which is a symbol of British Columbia’s autonomy, but also of the link to England and the Crown. Lastly, British Columbia’s motto appears at the bottom, entwined with the provincial flower, the Dogwood. Rev. Arthur Beanlands originally designed the Coat of Arms in 1895. King Edward VII first granted the Coat of Arms in 1906, but Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II also granted elements of it on October 15th, 1987.
Meaning “Splendour Without Diminishment” in Latin, British Columbia’s provincial motto was designed by Rev. Arthur Beanlands and was first adopted in 1895.
The Pacific Dogwood (Cornus Nuttallii) was adopted as British Columbia’s provincial flower in 1956. Actually a flowering tree, the Pacific Dogwood is known for its white blooms, brilliant red berries and bright foliage in the fall. It stands about eight to ten meters high, and blossoms in April and May.
The Spirit Bear (also known as the Kermode Bear) was adopted by the province of British Columbia as the provincial mammal in 2006. The Kermode or Spirit Bear is a black bear that has white fur due to a rare genetic trait. The bear is not albino, as it typically has a brown nose and eyes. The greatest concentrations of Spirit Bears are found on the Central Coast and North Coast of British Columbia, but have also been documented in northeast British Columbia.
The Steller’s Blue Jay was adopted by the people of British Columbia as the provincial bird in 1987. It is identified by its vibrant blue and black tones, and is notorious for being exceptionally smart and lively. The Steller’s Jay is quite common to British Columbia, and can be found all over the province.
Jade was adopted in 1968 as British Columbia’s official gemstone. Known for its brilliant green colour and easy-to-carve capabilities, Jade is sought the world over for fine jewellery and for sculptures. Made mostly of nephrite, jade is mined in several places around British Columbia.
The Western Red Cedar (Thuja Plicata Donn) became British Columbia’s provincial tree in 1988. The Red Cedar is a cone-bearing tree, and can be identified by its stringy bark, strong aroma and twigs spread out in a fan-like fashion. Traditionally, the tree was widely used by the West Coast Aboriginal people, but today it also has become a significant resource to British Columbia’s forest industry.
British Columbia’s provincial tartan was adopted in 1974. It is represented by five separate and symbolic colours; blue for the ocean, white for the dogwood, green for forests, red for the maple leaf and gold for the crown and sun on the flag and on the Coat of Arms.