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9 Most Important Canadian Symbols And Their Meanings

Are you curious what are the most important Canadian symbols and their meanings?

Nicknamed the “Great White North,” Canada is known worldwide for ice hockey, cold winters, and maple syrup. It is also famous for its uninhabited land and stunning scenery – from the great Canadian Rockies, gorgeous lakes and rivers, and some of the most beautiful cities in the world such as Toronto and Vancouver.

Canada has some of the cleanest air in the world and the most diverse of historical structures, as well as the most genuinely friendly people.

These things and a whole lot more make this great North American country what it is.

The culture in Canada is a mixture of British, French, and American influences. These influences blend in some aspects of Canadian cultural life. This is evident in the multitude of national symbols that have become uniquely Canadian or possessing uniquely Canadian traits.

Here’s a list of some of the most important Canadian symbols that represent Canada for what it is.

9 Most Important Canadian Symbols And Their Meanings

9 Most Important Canadian Symbols and their meanings

1. Maple Leaf

Maple Leaf
Image by Jim from Lexington, KY, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Nothing is more Canadian than a maple leaf. As the most popular symbol that represents Canada, it’s the first thing that comes to mind when we hear the name of this country.

The maple tree has attractive leaves that change to the bright autumn colors as the season ends, along with the delicious syrup found inside the tree.

The maple leaf has long been used by Canada as a decorative and ornamental symbol in art as well as medals, badges, and coat of arms. This special leaf has often served to distinguish Canadians abroad.

On the Canadian flag, the stylized maple leaf  features eleven points to represent Canada and the 10 different maple tree species that originated in the country.

In symbolism, maple signifies abundance, balance, love, and longevity, as well as success, generosity, and practicality.

2. Beaver

Image by Ryan Hodnett, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

As the largest living rodents in North America, beavers can weigh about 40 pounds on average and grow more than 3 feet in length, the tail included. They are semi-aquatic animals with webbed hind feet and huge incisor teeth, and their tails are broad and flat.

In 1974, this North American mammal was given official status as a symbol of the sovereignty of Canada. However, the beaver as a symbol was directly associated with the land that we would eventually call Canada even back in the 1600s.

Canada’s national animal serves as an example, for people to learn persistence and how to use all available resources, as beavers are known to be productive and hardworking. They teach people in understanding teamwork and appreciation of each individual’s talents. Beavers are also organized, analytical, self-disciplined, and cooperative with fellow beavers.

Apart from industriousness and productivity, the beaver also symbolizes creativity, creation, cooperation, and harmony.

3. Canadian Horse  

Canadian Horse  
Image by James Boyes from UK, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Canadian horse, or Cheval Canadien in French, plays an important role in Canada’s cultural heritage. This animal is a strong, well-muscled breed of horse that is usually dark in color – most frequently black but also may be brown, bay or chestnut.

This breed is descended from the horses of King Louis XIV of France that were imported to Canada in the late 17th century, which were later crossed with other American and British breeds.

Canadian horses have a calm disposition, which makes them such popular riding horses. They are easy to keep and willing to work all week long. They are also known for their endurance, resilience, and intelligence.

The Canadian horse is regarded as a national treasure in Canada.

4. Moose

Image by Bryce Edwards from San Jose, CA, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The moose is the largest and heaviest member of the deer family in North America. It is a prominent symbol of Canada that represents the country’s wildlife. The name “moose” comes from the Algonquin word “mooswa,” which means “twig-eater” – and that’s what they are.

Moose are important in the forest ecosystem of Canada as they serve as a food source for bears, wolves, and ravens. They can also change vegetation composition through browsing.

This great animal is featured on Ontario’s provincial coat of arms and serves as Canada’s mascot. You can see their images on postcards, T-shirts, and other souvenir items when you visit local shops in Canada.

5. Canada Goose

Canada Goose
Image by Joe Ravi, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

While the Royal Canadian Geographic Society has chosen the gray jay to be Canada’s national bird, the Canada goose has long been a part of Canada’s national identity.

The Canada goose is recognized as a dominant wildlife symbol in both currency and postage stamps in Canada, which suggests the bird’s abundance, beauty, and integrity with the socio-cultural life of this country.

Geese normally live in flocks, which make them the best bet to symbolize teamwork, family, and loyalty. The Canada geese, in particular, represent the beauty and bounty of nature not only in Canada but also in the United States. This bird is known for its bravery and fellowship. A Canada goose will never leave one of its kin behind.

The Canada goose is also symbolic of communication, determination, and monogamy, as well as confidence and protection.

6. Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Image by Saffron Blaze, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, colloquially known as the Mounties, is one of the most iconic symbols of Canada. It is the federal and national police service with jurisdiction as a peace officer in all provinces and territories of Canada.

Although the Mounties are a famous mounted police force, don’t expect to see them everywhere in Canada mounted on horses as these animals are no longer in use operationally. Horses are still used, however, in the Musical Ride and by several provincial and municipal police detachments.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, while not an official symbol of Canada, is recognized as being strongly Canadian and to this day remains a very iconic representation of Canadian identity.

7. Flag of Canada

Flag of Canada
Image by Michal Klajban, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The National Flag of Canada, unofficially called the Maple Leaf, is a simple banner with red and white colors and a single 11-pointed maple leaf in the center, which has symbolized pride and strength throughout Canadian history.

This flag is not very old, having been adopted only in 1965. However, the maple leaf has been used in the flag of Canada since the 1700s. The current maple leaf design was inspired by the ensign of the Royal Military College of Canada.

There were over 5,000 designs submitted before George Stanley’s maple leaf flag was chosen to become the Canadian flag that we know now.

8. Maple Leaf Tartan

In 2011, Canada’s Maple Leaf Tartan, which has for so long been an unofficial national tartan, was declared an official symbol of Canada.

The Maple Leaf tartan is one of the Canadian symbols that express the country’s identity and define its history.

Created in 1964 by David Weiser in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of Confederation in 1967, the Maple Leaf Tartan represents the contributions that the over 4 million Canadians of Scottish heritage have made – and continue to make – to the country.

9. Parliament Hill

Parliament Hill
Image by tsaiproject from Canada, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Known to locals as simply “The Hill,” the Parliament Hill is on the southern banks of the Ottawa River in downtown Ottawa. It is home to the federal government of Canada, where lawmakers gather to fulfill their duties.

For Canadians, however, especially those from Ottawa, the Parliament Hill is so much more. With its remarkable and visually striking landmarks located on a promontory overlooking the Ottawa River, it has become a special place to visit as well as meet and celebrate.

The Parliament Hill is the symbolic heart of the nation and an important national symbol for the young Dominion.

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