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Historical flags of Prince Edward Island (Canada)

Last modified: 2011-12-31 by rob raeside
Keywords: prince edward island | canada | lieutenant governor | oak tree | saplings | lion |
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Prince Edward Island

The name Īle Saint Jean was anglicized to St John's Island when the island became part of the British colony of Nova Scotia in 1763, and changed to Prince Edward Island in 1799, to honour Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, Commander-in-Chief of British North America, and later to be father of Queen Victoria.

Prince Edward Island was not party to the British North America Act of 1867, which created the Dominion of Canada, but joined later, without a grant of arms, on 1 July 1873.

There was no flag for the Governor of Prince Edward Island, but a badge based upon the Public Seal of 1769, when Prince Edward Island had been made a separate colony, was finally agreed for the Lieutenant-Governor of the province, in 1878. The seal depicted an oak tree and three small saplings with a Latin motto meaning, "the small under the protection of the great." The oak tree represented Britain, and the saplings, the island's three counties of King's, Queen's and Prince. On the badge of 1878 the oak was then taken to represent Canada.
David Prothero, 29 December 2002

Lt. Governor Flag, 1875-1905
[1875-1905 Lt. Governor flag] image by Blas Delgado

Badge Detail
[detail of flag's badge] image by Martin Grieve

On 2 September 1874, the Canadian Secretary of State had urged the Lieutenant-Governor of Prince Edward Island to adopt a badge for his flag. It was described in the Executive Council Minutes of 6 January 1875, [quoted by Alistair Fraser in Flags of Canada], as "The Union Jack; in the centre a wreath, formed of the Rose, the Thistle, and the Shamrock, surrounding the arms of the Province, viz., a large and small oak Tree, with the motto 'Parva sub ingenti' Above the wreath is placed the crown." Since Prince Edward Island did not have arms, what was called "the arms of the Province" was probably the complete Public Seal of the colony, as revised in 1839, which contained the British Royal Arms in the upper half of the circle, in addition to the trees and motto in the lower half.

Nothing further was done until 12 October 1877 when the Colonial Secretary, the Earl of Caernarvon, wrote about the badge of Prince Edward Island to the Governor-General of Canada, the Earl of Dufferin that, "Intend to be published without Royal Arms, but with addition of a crown, which his Lordship apprehends should in any case be inserted within the wreath, which should be plain." The Admiralty objected to this version, which had a crown in the blank space, above and between the trees, and on 21 November 1877 Caernarvon wrote to Dufferin that, "the badge would be better without a crown." The design of the badge was finally settled on 22 July 1878 when the Privy Council of Canada noted that there was no objection to the Admiralty suggestion regarding the crown.
[Public Record Office ADM 116/185]
David Prothero, 29 December 2002

Lt. Governor Flag, 1905-1981
[1905-1981 Lt. Governor flag] image by Martin Grieve

Badge Detail
[detail of flag's badge] image by Martin Grieve

Arms, consisting of shield and motto only, were granted by King Edward VII on 30 May 1905, and have not been augmented. Lion of England at the top of the shield with a large tree and three saplings on an island below. The arms replaced the circular badge on the Lieutenant Governor's Union Jack, which was being flown on land by the 1950's. A banner of the arms was adopted as the Provincial Flag by an act of the legislature on 24 March 1964. The present Lieutenant-Governor's Flag was approved 18 November 1981.
David Prothero, 29 December 2002