Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Heraldry at the Hall

On Monday, May 4th, Her Excellency the Governor General hosted an event at Rideau Hall, her official residence, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Canadian Heraldic Authority, and also to celebrate "the vitality of Canadian heraldry" (as the invitation read). Mme Jean wore her handsome gold, silver and enamel chain of office as head of the Canadian Heraldic Authority; she is also, of course, patron of the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada.

Her Excellency explains the symbolism of her own coat of arms. “My arms reflect my roots and my sense of belonging, but also my most deeply held beliefs, what I hope to accomplish during my mandate, and the legacy that I want to leave to the country that welcomed me with open arms.” - the carving was created by Society member, Donald Black. Click here to view more details on the image.
The event took place in the ballroom of Rideau Hall, with a reception and exhibition following in the Tent Room. Present were past and present staff and heralds of the Authority, most of the officers and directors of our Society, members of the Ottawa branch, and children from the Michaëlle Jean School in Ottawa. The event was chaired by Sheila Marie Cook, who is secretary to the Governor General and Chancellor of the Authority. The principal speaker was the Governor General, who spoke with passion of the experience of working on her personal coat-of-arms, to find symbols which spoke of her own history and current interests. Her Excellency was presented with a carved and polychromed depiction of her arms, the work of Donald Black and a gift from him and from the Society.

During the main event in the ballroom of Rideau Hall, a couple of announcements were made which were gratifying to our members. One is that the Garfield Weston Foundation has presented the Authority with chains of office for each of the heralds: these were on view in the Tent Room after the ceremony. Even more gratifying was the announcement that the Governor General has authorized the wearing of a tabard by the Chief Herald. Alas, there was no sketch on view of what this tabard might look like, but the announcement marked the fulfillment of a dream which the Society has had for many years. The achievement of this dream, however, lies in our hands: on behalf of the Society, our executive has underwritten the cost of the tabard, and an appeal to our membership is forthwith launched to cover the cost!