The formal part of the journey, the 2016 Investiture of new Knights and Dames into the Order of St. George is successfully concluded. The Canadian Priory of this venerable and centuries old chivalrous order has only existed since 2003 and is struggling to establish itself in Canada but is stuck somewhere between the Victorian era and the twenty-first century. I was invested as a Dame last year and nominated two rather wonderful individuals to membership this year. The ceremony is very formal with real swords, robes and much fanfare.
All took place at St Bartholomew’s Anglican Church in Ottawa, home to the beautiful Ottawa Window, a three-light stained glass window beyond the altar, designed by Wilhelmina Geddes as a war memorial http://www.yorku.ca/rsgc/IrishArtsReview1994.pdf.
The formal events of the day were followed by a fine dinner at the Chateau Laurier, giving folks an opportunity to step out in their finest formal wear and military mess kits, enjoy an excellent supper, hear a few good speeches and then kick up their heels on the dance floor. All in all, wonderful as the event was and the organization is, in many ways it’s an example of Canada’s inability to break free of colonial roots. The Order of St. George does a lot of good work in Canada and I am certainly proud to be a Dame of the Order, but so much of the ceremony and symbolism dates back to Victorian England. It would be nice to see it updated to something that reflected the history of the Order but also incorporated more inclusive, contemporary, and distinctly Canadian elements to the ceremony and symbols.
The same could be said of many of the symbols of authority in Canada. First there’s the fact that there are pictures of Queen Elizabeth, our head of state, in all military buildings. (The Prime Minister is the head of government). Remember too that government land is still called Crown Land. In our courts when we are taking on the government in litigation we are claiming against the Crown.
Our coat of Arms includes the British lion and the French unicorn, each holding their respective national flags. Under the lion and unicorn is Canada’s Motto: “A Mari usque ad Mare” (From sea to sea) but it might be better to read from sea to sea to sea. Government corporations are called Crown Corporations. Our military has reverted to the use of Royal in the title of its respective components like the Royal Canadian Navy, and the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Many of the provincial flags http://www.thecanadaguide.com/flags-of-canada include either the Union Jack, the British lion or the crown. The provincial flag for Quebec has four Fleur-de-lis. So where does that leave us as a sovereign nation state?
In any event, my path has done a 180 degree turn and I am headed back westward. And it’s snowing. In April. A lot. Sigh