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Manitoba (Canada)

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Flag of Manitoba (Canada)
by Željko Heimer


ISO 3166-2 Code: CA-MB
MARC Code: mbc

See also:

British red ensign with arms in fly - green with a bison standing on a rock, St. George's cross in chief. ratio 1:2. officially hoisted 1966-05-12. Civil and state flag on land.
Željko Heimer - 1996-07-16

The legislation referred to is 'An Act respecting the Flag of Manitoba' which received Her Majesty's approval on 27 August 1965, and was "assented to 11 May 1965". Article One of the accompanying Schedule is largely quoted, however, it goes on (in Paragraph 2) to give the colours in the (now redundant) British Admiralty Colour Code as "No. T1144 for nylon worsted bunting and No. T818A for other bunting".

Article Two of the Schedule is an illustration of the flag, which shows that the shield is not exactly "centred on the half furthest from the staff" as per the prescription in Article One, but (as is confirmed by a later official coloured model) actually has the square of the shield centred which places it overall below the centre of the fly half. There is a slight disparity between the two illustrations (5% of flag width to be exact), however, making a slight adjustment to both creates a shield height equalling 5/12 of flag width, whilst both show shield proportions of 5:4.
Christopher Southworth, 25 January 2005

the Coat-of-Arms

Coat-of-Arms of Manitoba (Canada)

The history of Manitoba's most important official symbol is virtually as old as the Province itself. Within a few weeks of the formal entry of the new Province of Manitoba into Confederation on 15 July 1870, a new seal was adopted as the first Great Seal of the Province.

At the centre of this seal was a shield featuring a buffalo beneath the red cross of St. George bearing at its centre, a representation of the Royal Crown. Unfortunately, no evidence has yet surfaced to indicate who was the author of this striking design. The inspiration for it is quite clear. As Dr. Conrad Swan, Garter King of Arms, has noted in his excellent study, Canada Symbols of Sovereignity

"For all but two centuries, the Hudson's Bay Company had exercised vice regal jurisdiction over the area out of which Manitoba was carved. The principal charge of the company's arms is the red cross of St. George, and so it was appropriate that this should form part of the arms for the Province. The buffalo, which is the major charge of the provincial arms, was the most singular of the several fauna of the area."

More than thirty years passed before the provincial authorities sought to have lawful arms granted to Manitoba. In response to an Order in Council of 10 December 1903, King Edward VII signed a Royal Warrant on 10 May 1905 assigning arms to the Province. These consisted of a heraldically correct version of the major elements found on the Great Seal of 1870. In the arms the buffalo stands on a rock and the Royal Crown does not appear at the centre of the cross.

This symbol, familiar to generations of Manitobans and other Canadians has served the Province as its principal mark of identity and authority until today.

In May this year (1992), the Honourable Gary Filmon, Premier of Manitoba, on behalf of the Government and people of Manitoba advised His Honour, the Honourable George Johnson, M.D., Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba, of the province's wish to augment the sheild of arms of the Province as a celebration of Manitoba's heritage and accomplishments and in permanent commemoration of the 125th anniversary of Confederation.

His Honour transmitted this request to His Excellency the Right Honourable Ramon John Hnatyshyn, Governor General of Canada who is Head of the Canadian Heraldic Authority. The Authority was created on 4 June 4 1988 pursuant to a Royal Warrant which vested the perogative power possessed by Her Majesty as Queen of Canada to create heraldic honours with the Governor General. Canada is the first country outside Britian within the Commonwealth and the first in the western Hemisphere to exercise this power in its own domain.

The augmentation involves adding to the shield all the other elements which for centuries have comprised a full coat of arms; the crest above the shield, the supporters at either side, the compartment on which the supporters and the shield rest, and the motto. The historic and current view of augmentation, especially for provinces, is that they are a visual expression of the importance that these entities have in the life and character of the nation. Augmentations are undertaken for the "greater honour" for the Province.

From an aesthetic and historical perspective augmentation offer a unique opportunity to enrich and extend the visual impact and symbolic meaning of the original arms.

On the 23 October 1992 the Right Honourable Ramon John Hnatyshyn, Governor General of Canada and Head of the Canadian Heraldic Authority brings into being the augmented arms of the Province by signing a Vice-Regal Warrant during a special ceremony in the Legislative Assembly in Winnipeg. Immediately following, the fact of the augmentation and the bringing into use of the newly augmented Arms are announced through issuing of a Royal Proclamation which is signed by the Premier, Minister of Justice and Minister of Culture and witnessed by the Lieutenant-Governor.

These new arms, the first ever to be created in this fashion in Canada, are directly inspired by the history and environment of the Province and enshrine its floral and arboreal emblems.

At the centre of the new arms is the familiar shield of 1905. Above the shield the gold helmet signals Manitoba's co-sovereign status in confederation. Flowing around the helmet is the traditional component of the mantling, here granted in Canada's national colours of red and silver. Above the helmet is the Crest. The beaver, Canada's national animal and symbol of industry and determination also represents the riches of Manitoba's natural environment and the fur trade of the historic period which was such an important element of the Province's early economic and social development. The beaver holds a prairie crocus, the Province's floral emblem.

On the beaver's back is the Royal Crown, granted as a special mark of honour by Her Majesty the Queen on the recommendation of His Excellency the Governor General. Occupying the senior position in the arms it symbolizes Manitoba's status as a key component of the Canadian community and its character as part of a constitutional monarchy. The appearance of the Crown also recaptures the feelings of loyalty which prompted the use of the crown in the Great Seal between 1870 and 1903.

Turning to the supporters, on the viewer's left is the unicorn. This complex fascinating and graceful mythical creature is one of two supporters in the Royal Arms of Canada, in turn inherited from the Arms of Great Britian and ultimately from Scotland, homeland of so many of the first Europeans who came to Manitoba. At its neck is a collar of green stones with silver masonry bearing a decorative frieze of silver maple leaves. This collar represents Manitoba's position as Canada's "keystone" province, an adjective long used to describe its geographical and economic importance in the centre of the country and, as well, the stones of Fort Garry and some of the other historic buildings in the Red River Valley. Hanging from this collar is a wheel of a Red River cart, symbolic of the most distinctive form of transport developed in Manitoba, honouring the province's distinctive historical development.

On the viewer's right is a white horse, an animal vital to the culture of several of the First Peoples, the Metis and the European settlers. The collar of bead and bone, honours all of the First Peoples and hanging from it is their symbol for the nature and meaning of our existence, the sacred circle or cycle of life.

The supporters and the shield rest on a compartment which is a visual metaphor for Manitoba. Rising above the blue and white waters of the province's lakes and rivers are the grain fields and forests, composed of the provincial tree, the white spruce. The seven prairie crocuses at the centre represent one people made up of many diverse origins in celebration of the multicultural character of the population.

At the base the symbol is anchored by the motto. A Latin translation of a stirring phrase from the national anthem "Glorious and free" evokes the character of all Manitobans and their democratic inheritance.

The best symbols are a dramatic distillation of the communities they represent and serve. The Governor General's gift to Manitoba in 1992 embellishes and enriches a symbol already deeply embedded in the citizens, and long may they be seen as worthy expressions of the special character of the province in the centre of Canada.
Robert D. Watt
Cheif Herald of Canada

There were also two small leaflets included, one on the flag, and one on provincial symbols:

Manitoba's Flag

The official flag of the Province of Manitoba was given royal approval by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in October, 1965, and was officially proclaimed on May 12, 1966. This is the date in 1870 on which the Manitoba Act was given royal assent.

The flag is the Red Ensign on which the Union Jack is placed in the upper quarter on the "staff" side, while the provincial coat-of-arms is centred in the "fly" half of the flag.

The Manitoba flag may be flown by an individual or organization in the province, but precedence is given to the Canadian Flag.

Official Emblems of Manitoba

MANITOBA FLAG. The official flag of the Province of Manitoba is the Red Ensign bearing the provincial coat-of-arms. This flag was given royal approval by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in October, 1965, and officlally proclaimed on May 12th, 1966.

THE COAT-OF-ARMS of the Province of Manitoba was assigned by Royal Warrant of King Edward VII on May 10th, 1905. The Armorial Designs were specified as: "Vert on a Rock a buffalo stantant proper, on a Cheif Argent the Cross of St. George," to be borne on Seals, Shields, Banners, Flags or otherwise according to the Law of Arms.

[The pamphlet then goes on to describe the provincial bird (Great Gray Owl), the Floral Emblem (anemone patens - the prairie crocus), the Manitoba Tartan, and the Provincial Tree Emblem (the White Spruce).]

Well, I think that's about everything you wanted to know about Manitoba, and probably some you didn't.
David Kendall - 21 March 1997

Badge of Manitoba (1870)

On 2 February 1870, the design of Manitoba's seal is finalized: similar to the present arms, but without the rock, with a crown on the cross, and with the buffalo portrayed charging.
Dean Tiegs - 21 December 1997

This symbol appeared on unofficial red ensigns from that moment on.

In the Admiralty Flag Book of 1889, and in Rudi Longueville's Badges of the British Commonwealth(1870 to 1905), the badge for Manitoba is not as you've described it.

I don't have a picture with me, only notes, so I can't describe it very well, but roughly: A shield with a square UJ in the first quarter, something indistinguishable in the second quarter, and in the bottom panel which is rather more than half, three wheat sheaves.

Some similarity to Saskatchewan.
David Prothero - 23 April 1998

You're not the first to be puzzled by this. It's an interesting coincidence that you should bring this up now, only a few weeks after I've heard of this: In the March 1998 issue (i.e., the latest issue) of Heraldry in Canada, G. A. Macaulay wrote an article asking for help on exactly this issue. This article was the first I'd heard of these unusual arms for Manitoba. Macauley has found two variants:

"In ABC of Heraldry (1915; repr. in Concise Encyclopedia of Heraldry, 1985), Guy Cadogan Rothery wrote that before the 1905 arms were assigned 'Manitoba bore Vert, three garbs in fess Or; a chief per pale, dexter the Union Badge of 1707 (a combination of the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew), and [sinister] Azure, three fleurs-de-lis Or.'

"A shield of very similar design may be found on a colour plate of 25 arms and badges of the United Kingdom and its colonies in The Victoria Regina Atlas (Edinburgh & London: W. & A. K. Johnston Ltd.). This shield has in the dexter half of the chief not the Union Badge but the crosses of St. George and St. Patrick conjoined, surmounted by a royal crown."

Macauley's article is basically an appeal for more information. The buffalo arms seems to have been the only ones used for official purposes, and the arms with the wheat sheaves, other than appearing in these few books of collections of badges and coats of arms, are an historical mystery.
Dean Tiegs - 23 April 1998

The information in Badges of the British Commonwealth came from the Royal Edwardian Edition of a flag chart called Standards and Flags of All Nations. I'm not sure of the publisher as I have a photocopy of only part of it, but I would guess that it's probably by Philip, Son and Nephew in about 1902.

I imagine that the publishers of the flag chart got their information from the 1889 Admiralty Flag Book that I mentioned. Its full title is, "Drawings of the Flags in Use at the Present Time by Various Nations". I do remember seeing the Manitoba badge, but the only things that stuck in my mind were that the green background to the wheat-sheaves was a particularly unpleasant colour, and that the Union Flag in the first quarter looked like a child's drawing. Not an attractive badge.

It is also in the Colonial Office flag book in the Public Records Office (CO 325/54) with "1878" written alongside, and also "app 1880". I forget if it was an original drawing or a print that had been pasted in, probably the latter.
David Prothero - 25 April 1998

Lt. Governor

[Manitoba Lieutenant Governor]
by Marc Pasquin and Mario Fabretto

Lt. Governor Badge at Sea, 1870-1905

[Lt. Gov. badge at sea, 1870-1905, Manitoba]
by David Prothero

One Manitoban flag that I have not seen featured in any published Canadian material is the Union Jack defaced with the first badge of Manitoba; the distinguishing flag of the Lt-Governor of Manitoba when afloat from 1870 to 1905.


A square shield with sharp right-angles at the top corners, rounded right-angles at the bottom corners and a small point in the centre of the bottom edge.

First quarter. Square white field: concentric red St George's cross and red St Patrick's saltire; arms of both crosses the same width; bearing a gold crown at the centre. (No blue.)

Second quarter. Square blue field: three gold fleur-de-lys arranged two above one.

Lower half. Dark green field: three gold sheaves (of wheat ?) in a row. Heradically "garbes"

The horizontal division is slightly higher than the mid-point, so that the 'quarters' are a little less than a quarter of the shield, and the lower 'half' is a little more than a half.

The design with supporters and crown was proposed in 1878 and approved without supporters and crown in 1880. Correspondence about it in Public Record Office document [ADM 116/185]. Drawing in [CO 325/54] and [MPG 1/869]. Also in the 1889 edition of the Admiralty Flag Book.


Badge set on a white disc surrounded by a maple-leaf garland in the centre of the Union Jack.
David Prothero, 4 August 2001
Source: "Arms and Badges of the Several Colonies of Great Britain" published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office in 1881.

Flags over Manitoba

19th Century - The flag of the Hudson Bay Company and the Union Flag of Great Britian fly over Manitoba.

Metis adopt a blue flag with the infinity symbol, the color influenced by the flag of the North West Company.

1869-1870 - Metis nationalism surfaces, with Louis Riel as the political leader. During the Metis period at least nine flags are recorded, most being white with French and Irish symbols.

December 10, 1869 - The Metis provisional government raises a white flag with a yellow fleur-de-lis and green Shamrock at Fort Garry.

August 24, 1870 - The Union flag is raised over Fort Garry and Riel's government ends.

1870 - The seal of Manitoba is adopted, featuring a shield with a crown and buffalo head.

1905 - The shield becomes the arms of Manitoba.

1964 - The Canadian Red Ensign replaces the Union Jack over provincial schools.

1965 - Manitoba's flag adopted. Canada's maple leaf flag adopted.

Summarized from a news article in the Winnipeg Free Press, forwarded to FOTW by David Kendall.

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