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British Columbia (Canada)

Last modified: 2003-08-16 by phil nelson
Keywords: british columbia | canada | blue ensign | crown | sun |
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[British Columbia (Canada)]
by Mario Fabretto - 16 July 1996

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The flag has a Union Jack in chief, defaced with a fivepointed crown, the field is wavy white and blue with a rising sun. Adopted 1960-07-20. ratio 3:5. Civil and state flag on land.
Zeljko Heimer - 16 July 1996

I thought I'd just contribute this little explanation of the BC Flag I found at the website of the BC Government.

(You can find it yourself at

The designs seen on the British Columbia flag are called the Arms of the Province. The wavy blue bars symbolize the Pacific Ocean, and the sun represents the glory of the province. The Union Jack, with the antique golden crown at its centre, reflects the Province's colonial origins. The 1906 Royal Warrant, which granted the Province's official Arms, allowed for them to be used "on Seals, Shields, Banners, Flags, or otherwise according to the Law of Arms." The design for the flag was prepared at once, and the display officially authorized in 1960 by Order-in-Council.
Michael Tillmann - 11 June 1998

I went to the BC governent site and read this same account. Another interesting version I learned in school here was that the setting sun symbolised the fact that we were the western most part of the British Empire. Comments?
Steve Zillwood - 11 June 1998

Another account of the sun on the BC flag (perhaps supplementary to the others) is that it relates to the motto on the province's arms, "splendor sine occasu," or something like "splendor without setting (i.e. of the sun)."
Nick P. - 11 June 1998

According to "The Arms, Flags and Floral Emblems of Canada/Les Armoiries, Drapeaux et Emblèmes Floraux du Canada" (1967; Department of the Secretary of State of Canada/Ministère du Secrétariat d'État du Canada, Toronto):

The arms of British Columbia are "Argent, three bars wavy azure, issuant from the base of a demi-sun in his splendor or, on a chief of the Union Device charged in the centre point with an antique crown or. ... the motto 'SPLENDOR SINE OCCASU' ('SPLENDOR WITHOUT DIMINISHMENT')."

The display of the provincial flag was authorized by Order in Council dated June 20th, 1960. The Union Jack is symbolic of British Columbia's origin as a British colony and of its continued links with the United Kingdom. The crown in the centre of of the Union Jack represents the soverign power which links, in free association, the British Commonwealth of Nations.
The sun setting over the Pacific Ocean is symbolic of British Columbia's position as the most westerly province of Canada. Proportion is 5 units wide by 3 units deep.
Dave Martucci - 13 June 1998

When British Columbia became a province of Canada, its first proposal for a coat-of-arms and flag was a half-sun representing BC's western location) in the top half and a Union Jack in the bottom half. When the design was sent to the heralds in the United Kingdom for approval, the heralds were appalled when they realized that the design could be interpreted as "the sun setting on the British Empire." The design was quickly reversed so the sun was on the bottom, giving the flag used today.

If you look carefully, there are still a few examples of the original design decorating the legislature in Victoria.
Dean Tiegs - 1996-12-16

I've never seen an illustration of the BC badge that had the sun above the UJ. I wonder if it was a real badge or just a good story. Any idea of the significance of the 'ancient crown'?
D Prothero - 1997-12-31

It did indeed exist: I recently saw it, incorporated into a multiprovince shield, on an old bank note on display at a coin-collector's shop. I have also seen it in a stained-glass window in the Legislative Building in Victoria, B.C.
Dean Tiegs - 1998-01-04

The flag of British Colombia is indeed a banner of arms and was adopted on 27 June 1960. The lion on the crest wears a collar of three Pacific dogwood flowers (the Provincial flower of BC) to differentiate it from the Royal Crest. The arms were granted on 31March 1906 by Edward VII (with supporters, etc granted on 15 October, 1987 by Elizabeth II) and replaced an earlier unofficial version which the College of Arms found unacceptable. These older arms can still be seen in a stained-glass window in the Legislative Building in Victoria, BC. They were similar to the modern arms but had the Union Flag in the base, with the setting sun above it. The reason given for swapping the two elements around was that "the sun never sets on the British Empire" which is what the heralds felt the old arms symbolized!
Graham Bartram, 06 August 2000

Lt. Governor's Flag

[British Columbia Lt. Governor]
by Marc Pasquin and Mario Fabretto

Blue Ensign

FTTAAATW by Whitney Smith shows the following ensigns for the provinces of Canada :

British Columbia - Blue Ensign with shield and scroll below
Chris Pinette - 30 June 1998