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Montreal, Quebec (Canada)

Last modified: 2018-07-10 by rob raeside
Keywords: quebec | montreal | rose | fleur-de-lis | thistle | shamrock | saint george cross | ship |
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[City of Montreal (Quebec - Canada)] image by Luc-Vartan Baronian and Rob Raeside


See also:


Current flag

Design

The flag of the City of Montréal has a white field bearing a red cross whose bars’ widths are one-fourth the height of the flag and whose ends extend to its edges. Floral emblems are centred in the quarters: a blue fleur-de-lis in the upper hoist; a green-stemmed red rose in the upper fly; a green-stemmed purple thistle in the lower hoist; and a green shamrock or clover leaf in the lower fly, all outlined in black with black details. 
Luc Baronian, Canadian City Flags, Raven 18, 2011

Symbolism

The white field recalls the original coat of arms created by the first mayor of Montréal, Jacques Viger. The red St. George cross symbolizes the Christian principles that governed the city’s founders. The four floral emblems represent the origins of Montréal’s population in the 19th century. The fleur-de-lis of the House of Bourbon represents the French, the first European settlers on the island of Montréal. The Lancastrian rose stands for Montrealers with roots in England. The thistle symbolizes Montrealers of Scottish origin. The shamrock represents Irish Montrealers. 
Luc Baronian, Canadian City Flags, Raven 18, 2011

Selection

On 19 July 1832 Jacques Viger, Montréal’s first mayor, brought two proposals of his own design for coat of arms, one round and one oval, to the councillors. The city adopted the second proposal in 1833. It differed from the current arms by displaying a beaver (Castor canadensis) instead of the fleur-de-lis and a red saltire (X-shaped cross) instead of the current cross. Further, the beaver was in the lowest quarter and the rose was in the highest quarter. These arms were modified and readopted in March 1938. A banner of these modified arms became Montréal’s flag in May 1939, in time for the royal visit by King George and Queen Elizabeth, and is still in use.
Luc Baronian, Canadian City Flags, Raven 18, 2011

The Montreal Gazette is reporting today that the anticipated flag change in Montreal has happened: http://montrealgazette.com/news/local-news/montreals-flag-acknowledges-first-nations-amherst-st-to-be-renamed. The change involves the addition of a pine tree on a red disc on the St. George cross as a First Nations symbol of peace and harmony. The new flag was hoisted today in the presence of Ghislain Picard, Regional Assembly of First Nations Chief of Quebec Labrador, and Chief Christine Zachary-Deom.
Rob Raeside, 13 September 2017

The choice of the white pine reflects its significance as a Tree of Peace for many First Nations in eastern North America. The visible roots are an invitation to follow them toward peace and harmony. Its position on a circle open at the four compass points the Circle of Life and the Council Fire as a place for meeting point and dialogue.

Source: pamphlet on the new arms and flag https://web.archive.org/web/20170914001102/http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/pls/portal/docs/page/prt_vdm_fr/media/documents/depliantdrapeau_8.5x11_ang-hr.pdf)

The images on the city website have the diameter of the red disc approximately 4/9 the height of the flag.
https://web.archive.org/web/20170914000712/http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/portal/page?_pageid=5977,42249635&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL
Jonathan Dixon, 13 September 2017

Designer

Unknown. The original arms were designed by Jacques Viger; the 1938 arms were designed by Conrad Archambault, the city’s chief archivist.
Luc Baronian, Canadian City Flags, Raven 18, 2011

More about the Flag

The historical context behind the adoption of the original arms is the Patriote Rebellion of the 1830s. The social tensions of the early part of the decade culminated in armed confrontations in 1837 and 1838. Viger’s design thus constituted an effort to bring together the divided ethnic groups of his time, as evidenced by the city’s Latin motto, Concordia Salus (“Well-being through Harmony”), represented on the city’s arms. Because the rebellions eventually led to the creation of the current Canadian federation, Montréal’s flag can be considered a legacy for all Canadians. Indeed, the arms of Canada evoke the same four ethnic groups.
Luc Baronian, Canadian City Flags, Raven 18, 2011

The white field recalls the original coat of arms created by the first mayor of Montréal, Jacques Viger. The red St. George cross symbolizes the Christian principles that governed the city’s founders. The four floral emblems represent the origins of Montréal’s population in the 19th century. The fleur-de-lis of the House of Bourbon represents the French, the first European settlers on the island of Montréal. The Lancastrian rose stands for Montrealers with roots in England. The thistle symbolizes Montrealers of Scottish origin. The shamrock represents Irish Montrealers.

Montreal's flag is a banner of the shield; the lys, the rose, the shamrock (trefoil) and the thistle represent respectively the French, the English, the Irish and the Scots of Montreal. The cross is emblematic of the Christian motives and principles which governed the founders of the city. There is no evidence that it represents St George, see the official site : http://www.ville.montreal.qc.ca/symboles/symboles.htm
(You can click on English if you don't read French, but a few pictures are missing in English).
Luc-Vartan Baronian, 20 June 1997

Montreal's first Arms were White with a red X-cross (St-Patrick style) In each quarter a flower : the red rose for the English, the thistle for the Scots, the shamrock for the Irish. Exception the lowest one with a beaver for the French.

The arms were changed for a "St-George's cross" and the beaver replaced by a fleur-de-lys in the FIRST canton, to give the French their rightful place they said... The flag is based on the new arms.

It would surprise me that at the same time, one would bring the French element to a dominating place and replace the cross for St-George's... unless St-George is also Montreal's saint... And also the fact that I've never read that it was St-George's cross in a description reinforces my view.
Luc-Vartan Baronian, February 1997


In the quarterly "Heraldry in Canada" vol. XV, No.2, June 1981, published by The Heraldry Society of Canada, p.28, in an article about the new logo is this description:

"The arms that the city has used for a century and a half are adoptive, but at least the shield is good heraldry, bearing the Cross of St. George and having the heraldic symbols of the four founding races, the French, English, Scottish and Irish, beautifully and simply displayed."
Sebastian Herreros, 14 February 1997

First, the description given is confusing because there is at least one mistake: The first arms were created in 1833 by Montreal's first mayor, Jacques Viger (a century and a half ago...). These arms had the red X on white. In a newspaper article I have, they describe this as the Cross of St Andrew (not St Patrick). The (only) modification occurred in 1938 (as I roughly described above).

So if it is in fact the Cross of St George, it hasn't been in use for a century and a half ago, only for 43 years at the time the article was written. Of course, one mistake doesn't imply that the whole description is incorrect. In fact, the rest is ok and it probably IS the cross of St George, but...
Luc-Vartan Baronian, 14 February 1998

Here are the official details . . .

The flag of the Town of Montreal was raised for the first time in May 1939. It takes again the principal heraldic symbols of the armorial bearings: the heraldic cross of mouths on white zone and to the districts, four emblematic flowers. The proportions of the flag are two lengths over a width.

These Emblems in the flag:

The flower of lily of the royal house of Bourbon. This emblem represents with the first canton of the French element which was the first to take took possession of Montreal.
The rose of the house of Lancaster. This one is placed with the second canton and it symbolizes the English settlers from England.
The thistle. This emblem represents, with the third canton, the Scottish origin of the population.
The clover of Ireland. To the fourth canton, the clover recalls the presence of the Irish origin of the population.
Robert Alfers, 26 January 1999

According to Fraser the Montreal flag was introduced in May 1939 to mark the visit of King George VI. Perhaps this explains the St George's cross.
David Prothero, 4 August 2001


Previous flag (1939-2017)

[City of Montreal (Quebec - Canada)] image by Luc-Vartan Baronian


Coat of Arms

[Coat of arms - Montreal, Quebec] by Robert Alfers

Blazon

Argent, a cross gules, quartered of the first a fleur de lys azure; of the second a rose gules, stemmed, foliated and pointed vert; of the third a thistle of the same, flory purple; of the fourth, a trefoil of vert. Timbré a beaver couchant on a branch natural. The shield surrounded by a spray of maple leaves vert.

The device on the scroll - The motto "CONCORDIA SALUS", salvation through harmony, is inscribed on the scroll below the crest. This arrangement is also the same as on the Province of Québec arms.

The maple leaves - Montréal's coat of arms, like that of Québec, is surrounded by a wreath of maple leaves. They are the leaves of the sugar maple (Acer saccharum) and they symbolize the amicable relations between the various elements of the city's population.

The beaver - Mounted over the shield is a beaver representing the industriousness of Montrealers who have worked to develop our city.

Source: http://www2.ville.montreal.qc.ca/symboles/engl/symbola.htm
Ivan Sache, 8 November 2002


Montréal logo flag

[City of Montreal logo flag] 1:2 image by Eugene Ipavec
Source: Canadian City Flags, Raven 18

Montréal also uses a coat of arms and a logo/signature. The logo flag (white on red) was popular in the 1980s but is rarely seen today. According to official sources, the city adopted its official logo and visual identification program in 1981 and the mandate to create them was awarded to the graphic design firm Georges Huel et Associés Inc. The logo was created to show the city’s dynamism and to promote communication with Montrealers as well as its image on the national and international scenes. The emblem, which takes its inspiration from the city’s coat of arms, is a minimalist logo that is shaped like a flower, in which each petal forms the letters V and M, the initials for “Ville de Montréal”. The intersecting lines at the centre of the logo symbolize the city’s role as a crossroads of communication and civilization. The four heart-shaped petals signify the deep attachment Montrealers have to their city. An undulating line encircles the whole, representing the island, while the intertwining of plant and aquatic symbolism expresses the wealth of Montréal’s natural environment and the care Montrealers take to preserve it. 
Luc Baronian, Canadian City Flags, Raven 18, 2011

 The logo was updated in 2003 to reflect the merger of the 28 municipalities on the Island of Montréal (the shade of red is a purer more classical red than the 1981 "warm red" version and the words "Ville de" are suppressed in the signature and only the word Montréal followed by the logo remain, thus harmonizing the signature with those of the governments of Québec and Canada)." Several of these flags were produced though the armorial banner is still the flag known as the city flag. The last time I saw the logo-flag was in 1998, outside a fire station.
Luc Baronian, 9 May 2005


Montreal Airports (Aéroports de Montréal)

[Port of Montreal] image by Luc Baronian

"The basic principle in the creation of the logo was to represent the strong, distinctive and universal character of the airports. It is composed of two main elements: the circle representing the Earth and the influence of Montréal and the paper airplane is a universal symbol representing a plane. The whole represents an airplane, runways, a surface communication network and open spaces. The metallic finish symbolizes high-tech."
Luc Baronian, 9 May 2005


Port of Montreal

[Port of Montreal] image by Luc Baronian

The two golden yellow outer stripes represent the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, which provide Canada, which this port serves, with access to foreign markets. The golden yellow color signifies the commerce of the nation and the influence the Port of Montréal had to the Canadian economy. The ship is another obvious reference to the port and the "M" signifies "Montréal". The Port showed a photo of its newly adopted flag, which I have often seen, in its 1981 bulletin.
Luc Baronian, 9 May 2005


Old Port of Montreal (Vieux-Port)

[former Port of Montreal] image by Dave Martucci

The silhouette of the Old Clock Tower in the Old Port, or Tour de l'Horloge du Vieux-Port, a landmark in this area of the city, is represented on the flag. The wavy blue and white narrow stripes signify water.
Luc Baronian, 9 May 2005


Service de Police de la Communauté urbaine de Montréal

[Urban Community of Montreal (Quebec - Canada)] image by Luc-Vartan Baronian

[Urban Community of Montreal (Quebec - Canada)] image by Luc-Vartan Baronian

[Urban Community of Montreal (Quebec - Canada)] image by Luc-Vartan Baronian

In 2002, the Urban Community's police became the City's police force. I have seen three flags for the former police force. Since the merger, I have only observed the white flag with the badge (flag which came into existence in the late 1990s), though strangely, they haven't yet modified the inscription on the flag's badge. (However, there is a new badge on the police officers' arms). The logo dates from 1973 and represents a stylized man.
Luc Baronian, 9 May 2005


Montreal Fire Department

[Montreal Fire Department] image by Marc Pasquin, 12 September 2012

Presented here is the flag of the fire department of Montreal ("Service des Incendies de Montréal"). It was observed on the 10th of this month flying over a fire house in the Ville-Marie Arondissement (caserne 19 to be precise).

It is a simple flag consisting of the shoulder shield on a red background. Note that the white outline is already part of the patches from one I've seen and not added as a fimbriation. It is incidentally the same basic design as the flag used by the police force of the city.

The 1:2 ratio is an estimation based on other flags used by the city's various organisations.
Marc Pasquin, 12 September 2012