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The Maces of the Canadian Provincial and Territorial Legislatures (I)
John McDonough

At the time this article was written John McDonough was a Research Officer in the Research Branch of the Library of Parliament

The Mace is the symbol and emblem of the authority of the Crown in Parliament. In this second article on Canadian Maces the emphasis will be placed on the Maces of the Canadian provincial and territorial Legislatures. There is a Mace for each provincial and territorial Assembly in Canada; but this has not always been the case. Most of the provincial Legislatures adopted a Mace either before or at their time of entry into the Canadian Confederation. Some Maces date back into the colonial past although some notable exceptions were adopted many years after a province's entry into Confederation.

Resolutions were passed in the Nova Scotia House in 1785 and 1819 ordering that a Mace be provided for the Colonial Assembly. It would appear that neither order was complied with, for reasons unknown, and that the first Mace of the Nova Scotia Legislature was presented to that body in 1930. Prior to the entry of New Brunswick into Confederation, the Sergeant-at-Arms wore a sword with silver mounting and up until 1937 he carried a staff as a substitute for the orthodox Mace whenever the Assembly was to meet with the Lieutenant Governor. In 1937 New Brunswick was presented with its first real Mace.

Prince Edward Island presents a unique case. For many years the legend persisted that Prince Edward Island's original Mace had been stolen by an enemy raiding party either in the American Revolution or In the War of 1812 and that tradition forbade its replacement. There is a report of an Incident in 1775 when American privateers, operating in the name of the American Revolutionary Army, invaded Charlottetown. They "plundered" the town, stole the Great Silver Seal of the colony and abducted the Colonial Administrator. (1) The Administrator was later released but no record of the Great Seal has ever been found. It is believed the story of the stolen Mace was built up around this historical Incident. There is, however, no record of any Mace in connection with this incident. Likewise, no evidence exists to support the story that the Mace could have been stolen during the War of 1812; in fact, it would appear that this War did not even touch upon the idyllic shores of the island colony. Prince Edward Island's first Mace was presented to its Legislature In 1960 by the Federal and Provincial Branches of the Canadian Parliamentary Association. It was manufactured by Birks of Montreal at the cost of approximately $5,000.00.

One of the earliest Canadian Maces which Is still intact was brought to Newfoundland in 1832 from London, England and was in continuous use until 1933. Several interesting stories have been associated with this Mace. (2) At the end of the first session of the Colonial Assembly in 1833 the Mace, the Speaker's Chair and other parliamentary paraphernalia were placed on the auction block and sold. A Mrs. Travers who had rented tier house for the first legislative session has been unable to collect the rent which she considered was due to her and thus auctioned the furnishings which had been left. The Mace and other parliamentary articles were eventually returned, but not before considerable embarrassment had been experienced by the Governor, Sir Thomas Cochrane, and his legislators. No Mace was used during the period of Commission Government from 1934 to 1949. When Newfoundland entered Confederation (1949) this first Mace was used again until April 1950 when British Columbia presented her sister province with a new silver and gold gilt Mace.

In the previous article, it was established that a Mace was in use in the Legislative Council in Quebec and the Legislative Assembly of that colony sometime after 1791. Also, it would appear that the Mace used in the Executive Council of the United Canadian Parliament had originated in Quebec and that this Mace was subsequently used by the Canadian Senate as it still is today. It is established that a Mace was used by the Legislative Assembly of Quebec at the opening of Its first session on 27 December, 1867, but its origin is in some doubt. A Mace was also used by the Legislative Council of the Province. (3)

These two Quebec Maces were involved in a fire which destroyed the provincial Parliament Buildings in what is today Montmorency Park, on the top of Côte de la Montagne, on 20 April, 1883. The Mace of the Legislative Assembly was saved by the Sergeant-at-Arms, Dr. Larocque, and it would seem that this Is the Mace which is in use today in the National Assembly of Quebec. Nevertheless, a legend had developed that this Mace had been destroyed in the Assembly fire and was replaced by a Mace which was the gift of the Lord Mayor of London. Since there is proof that the Mace was in fact saved, it may. well be that the presentation was made by. the Lord Mayor of London in 1867 instead. (4) The Mace of the Legislative Council. was destroyed in the fire of 1883 and it was replaced by a Mace made by Quebec jeweller Cyrville Daquet and designed by M. E.-E. Taché who also designed the Quebec Parliament Buildings. The Legislative Council of Quebec was abolished on 31 December, 1968 and this Mace was; placed in the Museum of the National Assembly.

There have been several incidents where the Quebec Legislative Mace has been the object of practical jokes. The most serious incident took place during the first session of the twenty-eighth legislature in the winter of 1967. Students from the University of Montreal managed to steal the Mace from its supposedly theft-proof room. The Incident was kept quiet, indeed few people were aware of the theft as the Mace of the Assembly was replaced by the Mace of the Legislative Council (5) The Mace was eventually recovered; unfortunately some of its decorative elements had been destroyed. It was repaired but not fully restored to its original condition and the Royal Arms of Elizabeth II have been applied.

The history of the Upper Canadian Mace was also dealt with in the previous essay. It became war booty in 1813 and was returned to the Province of Ontario in 1935. Ontario procured a new 'lace for the beginning of its first legislative session in 1867. It was described at the time as being much more modest in its appearance and value than the Mace of the Dominion although it bears a general resemblance to its counterpart. It was purchased from Charles O. Zollicoffer of Ottawa at the cost of $200.00. This Mace is still in use in the Legislative Assembly of the Province. It was altered in 1902 following the accession of His Majesty King Edward VII to the throne. It was decided to replace the Queen's Crown on the Mace with that of the King and the engraved initials V.R. (Victoria Regina) were replaced by the letters E.R. (Eduardus Rex). To do this the old "cup" on the head of the Mace was removed and replaced by a new one. The older cup is still in existence.

The original Mace of the Manitoba Legislature made its first appearance on 15 March, 1871, at the opening session of Manitoba's first legislature. It escaped damage from the fire which destroyed the first Parliament Building on 3 December, 1873. This was a unique but rough wooden Mace it was replaced in 1884 by the and present Mace.

In 1905 the first Legislative Assemblies in Saskatchewan and Alberta were opened with the use of a Mace. The Saskatchewan Mace was of traditional design and was purchased from Ryrie Brothers, Jewellers, of Toronto, at the cost of $340.00. This same Mace is in use today. Alberta opened its first Legislative Assembly with an unusually designed brass Mace. This Mace was supposed to be temporary but it was not replaced until 1955 with a more traditional Mace manufactured of silver, gold and precious stones.

There have been six Maces in the history of British Columbia. An original Mace for the Colony of Vancouver Island was in existence between 1856 and 1866. A rude makeshift Mace was used from 1858 to 1864 for the Assembly of the mainland Colony of British Columbia. A new Mac, was introduced for the opening of the Firs'. Session of the Legislative Council of the new mainland Colony of British Columbia which was opened at New Westminster on 21 January, 1864. This Mace continued to be used after the union of the island arid mainland colonies in 1.866 and until the colony became a Province of Canada. This Mace cannot be located. The opening of the First Parliament of British Columbia after Confederation on 17 February, 1872, was the occasion for the display of a new Mace which was made of wood and gilded. At the time of the building of the new Parliament Buildings – 1896 to 1898 – it was felt that a new Mace would be more in keeping with the dignity of the new building. According to the Public Accounts 1896-97, $150.00 was paid to Winslow Brothers of Chicago "for mace and inkpot covers". The present Mace was first used in the opening of the Legislative Assembly, 16 February, 1954. It was designed by Mr. F.G. Cope, made by hand from British Columbia silver, and gold-plated by the Victoria firm of silversmiths, Jeffries and Company.

During an Ottawa session of the Territorial Council of the Northwest Territories in 1956, Governor General Massey presented the first Canadian Mace to a Territorial Legislature. This is the most original and beautiful of Canadian Maces and it remains in use. However, because of its particularly fragile construction a replica has been made. The original Mace is now normally used only on the opening day of each Winter Session of the Council. The silver gilt Mace now used by the Legislative Assembly of the Yukon was crafted by Birks of Montreal at an approximate cost of $8,300. This most recent presentation of a Canadian Mace by Governor General Roland Michener on behalf of the people of Canada in a ceremony on 15 March, 1972.


Design of the Canadian Maces

The Canadian Maces have generally followed the basic shape and style of their British counterparts. The notable differences tend to. be the details of the heraldic and symbolic designs, although some Maces do have unique structural characteristics. The historical period in which the Mace was manufactured is likely to be the major element in establishing its design and the characteristics of its construction. In its basic design a Mace consists of a shaft divided by protuberant rings into one short and two long sections with a knob at the lower end. The shaft supports a large decorated cup or head. This support is sometimes assisted with the aid of an ornamental collar. The cup is usually divided into sections which may contain heraldic designs, coats-of-arms, or other symbolic representations. This cup is then surmounted by a Royal Crown with an orb and cross. The Royal Arms and Royal Monogram usually appear on the base of the cup directly under the crown. The Crown of the New Brunswick Mace contains an inner cushion and the Royal Arms and Royal Monogram appear on the top of this cushion.

On the metal Maces where complex engraved designs are possible the floral emblems of the provincial and territorial governments usually appear, often decorating the staff The Coat-of-Arms or Crest of the province or territory is also likely to be present, and on most modern Canadian Maces it would be enamelled. The cup of the present Newfoundland Mace is decorated with a band of entwined dogwood, the floral emblem of British Columbia, the donor of the Mace.

According to a British expert, commenting on the Great Seal of Lower Canada which appears on the Senate Mace, the representation of a Great Seal is most unusual for a Mace. However, both the New Brunswick and Nova Scotia Maces contained a representation of their Great Seals, the design of which had originated in their early colonial period.

The pre-twentieth century metal Maces (House of Commons, Senate, Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba) closely followed the traditions of British heraldic design. The cup had been traditionally divided into four quadrants which contained the Rose, Thistle, Harp and Fleur-de-Lis, the national emblems of England, Scotland, Ireland and France respectively. There were variations on this basic design, the most notable being the Mace of the Senate which has been discussed in the previous article.

The more recent Maces have widely varied the designs on their cups. The sides of the cup of the Saskatchewan Mace are alternately decorated with a beaver representing Canada, a sheaf of wheat, and the royal Monogram E.R. – representing Edward VII who was the reigning sovereign when the Mace was authorized in 1905. The shaft and lower parts of the Mace are ornamental with chasings of Thistle, Shamrock and Rose.

The four sides of the cup of the 1930 Nova Scotia Mace depict: the Coat-of-Arms of the Province of Nova Scotia, the Royal Crown, the Great Seal of the Province, and a figure presumed to be the Speaker in his robes of office.

The representations on the cup of the New Brunswick Mace (right) are.. on the obverse side, the original Coat-of-Arms of the Province; on the reverse side, the first Seal of the Province. The moto Spem Reduxit (She restored hope) appears on the Seal. The Great Seal depicts a sailing ship at anchor on a river. The motto refers to the idea that in the new land to which she (the ship) brought them (the new Loyalist Immigrants) they could look forward to peace and prosperity after their years of anxiety and persecution". (6) The Royal Monogram G.R. VI is placed on the other two sides representing King George VI as this Mace was presented In 1937 the year of his Coronation.

The present Newfoundland Mace which was presented in 1950 contains the Coats-of-Arms of Canada, Newfoundland and British Columbia and the Royal Monogram G.R. VI. These four sections are divided by a rope motif which symbolizes the shipping industries of both Newfoundland and British Columbia and this design La repeated on the staff. Supporting the cup on the staff is a collar of three dolphins representing the fishing industry of both provinces and on the ball at the bottom of the staff is the official British Columbia emblem of the Thunderbird with a whale in its talons.

The present British Columbia Mace (1954) weighs only 11 pounds. The cup bears an enamel Coat-of-Arms of British Columbia, the Canadian Coat-of-Arms, and four scenes depicting the basic Industries of the Province, forestry, fishing, agriculture and mining.

The modern Alberta Mace (1955) is unique in many ways. The Crown is topped with a beaver, the shaft Is engraved with roses, with a wheat sheaf at the base and between the cup and the shaft is a collar with two buffalo heads opposite each other. On one half of the cup is an enamel shield of the Province and on the other half is the following inscription:

The Civil Service Association of Alberta Presented this Mace to the People of *The Province of Alberta* To be Held in Trust By the Legislative Assembly, as an expression of Loyalty And in Commemoration of Alberta's Golden Jubilee 1905 - 1955.

The Alberta Mace is also notable for a series of gem stones arranged in a ring around the band of the Crown, in such order that, their first letters spell the name of Alberta: Amethyst, Lapis Lazuli, Beryl, Emerald, Topaz and Aquamarine.

The head of the Prince Edward Island Mace is decorated with a ring containing an enamel representation of each of the ten provincial Crests. Below these Crests of the provinces, the Crest of Canada is engraved. On each side of this crest, one In English and one in French, is the following inscription:

Presented to the Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island by the Federal and Provincial Branches of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association to Commemorate the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Meeting of the Fathers of Confederation at Charlottetown in 1864.

Immediately below the provincial flower, the Ladies Slipper Is embossed. It Is also embossed on the two rounded protuberances on the shaft.

The head of the Yukon Mace Canada's newest Mace (1972) Is most notable because it incorporates a topographical cross-section of the Territory. It also contains the Coats-of-Arms of' Canada and the Yukon, and the fireweed the floral emblem of the Territory. Below the floral emblem and the Coats-of-Arms are three alcoves each with a figure representing native peoples, early explorers and fur traders, and miners.

Some of Canada's early Maces were of very Interesting design and made mostly of wood. The rather rough-hewn quality of these parliamentary articles reflected the pioneer nature of the society. The first Mace used by the Assembly of Upper Canada is a good example and it has been described in the earlier article. Two very interesting and unusual Canadian Maces are the first Maces of the Provinces of Manitoba and Alberta.

The original Mace of the Manitoba Legislature is made completely of wood. Its head was carved from the hub of a Red River cart wheel by a man who was a soldier In the Wolsey Expeditionary Force during the North-West Rebellion of 1870. The staff of the Mace had been part of the flag-staff carried by that same Expeditionary Force. This 'lace was gilded by the Hon. Henry J. Clarke, Manitoba's first Attorney General and later Premier for a short time. It was used for thirteen years between 1871 and 1884.

The first Mace used in Alberta was designed and constructed by an ingenious pattern maker and freight carpenter, Rufus E. Butterworth, for the firm of Watson Brothers Jewellery in Calgary. Mr. Butterworth composed the Mace from an assortment of Indigenous materials. The stem of the Mace was fashioned from pieces of old brass bedsteads; it was embellished In a unique manner by such items as some old, used plumbing pipe, some handles from old metal shaving mugs, wood, a piece of red velvet and gold paint. The Alberta Public Accounts for the year 1907 records a payment of $150 to Watson Brothers, listed under "Contingencies-Sundries", in a list of expenditures for legislation. The original Mace was supposed to be used temporarily until a more elegant substitute could be obtained. In actual fact this Mace was used until 1955.

Undoubtedly, the most beautiful, unique and delicate of Canadian Maces was fashioned by the Native carvers of Cape Dorset, Baffin Island for the Council of the Northwest Territories. The work was performed under the leadership of Pitsulak, the foreman, and Oshaweetuk, the head carver. Technical direction was provided by James A. Houston, a northern artist and Northern Service Officer with the Federal Government.

The orb which surmounts the crown is made from whalebone left behind by Scottish whalers over one hundred years ago., The crown itself was made from sheets of: copper pounded into shape and rolled from an eighty pound block of free copper., Immediately, below the crown and orb is a carved circlet of bowhead whales, the symbols of royalty and greatness. Curving out from below this circlet are four muskox horns from Ellesmere Island. Discs of pare gold from the three mines in the Territories which were in production In 1956 are interspersed between the muskox horns. Midway on the head is a circular carving depicting the people and animals of the Arctic. A narwhal tusk forms the shaft of the Mace. The foot, topped with a carved piece of oak from the wreck of Sir William Peary's HMS "Fury", is to represent the entry of explorers and Europeans Into the Arctic. Two bands of porcupine quill work lend colour to the Mace. The final section of whalebone Is carved in the form of sales. This is one of the largest Canadian Maces; it stands five and a half feet high and weighs thirty-five pounds. Late in 1956 a replica was made to safeguard the comparatively fragile and irreplaceable original.



A Mace has of ten been given as a particularly prestigious gift to mark important occasions. Canadian Maces have come from a variety of sources. still many jurisdictions have simply purchased their own Mace. Ontario procured its Mace for its first legislative session as a province of Canada in 1867. Saskatchewan did likewise in 1905. Manitoba acquired Its makeshift Mace in 1871 and purchased a new Mace in 1884. Similarly, British Columbia has purchased a number of Maces for use in its Legislative Assembly. Quebec likely purchased at least one of its Maces, if not both, but there is the traditional belief that the Mace of its Legislative Assembly had been presented to the Province by the Lord Mayor of London. The original Newfoundland Mace (1832) remained in use until 1950 when the Province of British Columbia presented the Newfoundland House of Assembly with a new Mace In honour of Newfoundland's entry into Confederation. The presentation was made by the Hon. Herbert Anscomb, Deputy, Premier and Minister of Finance of the Government of British Columbia. Alberta's second and present Mace was presented to the Province by the Civil Service Association of Alberta in honour of Alberta's Golden Jubilee in 1955. Prince Edward Island received its first Mace in 1966 on behalf of the Canadian Federal and Provincial Branches of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association to commemorate the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Meeting of the Fathers of Confederation at Charlottetown in 1864. The Mace was presented by a former Speaker of the House, the Hon. Alan Macnaughton, with the aid of Senator Elsie Inman, who represented the Senate of Canada. The Nova Scotia Mace was donated by one of the Province's most distinguished jurists, Chief Justice Harris and his wife. The gift was made anonymously, the donors' name being released only after the Judge's death in 1931. The New Brunswick Mace was the gift of Colonel, the Honourable Murray McLaren, Lieutenant-Governor of the Province from 1935 to 1940. The Northwest Territories Mace was commissioned In 1955 by Governor General Vincent Massey and was presented by the Governor General to the Territorial Council in 1956 on behalf of the people of Canada. Similarly, the Mace of the Yukon Territory was presented at a ceremony in Whitehorse on 6 March 1972 by Governor General Roland Michener.



Canadian Maces have an Important function in reminding Canadian legislators of the depth and breadth of our parliamentary tradition, from its origins in the mists of British history to the present, and of the ultimately pre-eminent role of the legislator In the governing process. The Mace is the symbol of parliamentary supremacy. Although parliamentary supremacy" is a much overworked and often misunderstood phrase it is important that our legislators have this symbol of their power before them at all times to serve as a reminder of their duties, responsibilities and, indeed, their challenges and their opportunities. It is to be hoped that the general public has respect for and an understanding of the rituals and symbols of their legislatures but it is of primary importance that Canadian legislators themselves are kept constantly aware of the special trust that has been handed to them as a result of past struggles for responsible and representative government. In a special way symbols, such as these beautiful Maces, are useful in defining and clarifying the complexities of history; they come to represent its essence. Thus these instruments of our political culture stand not only as a representation of our political past but act as a standards for the legislators who will chart our future. It is hoped that the two articles on Canadian Maces will make the readers more aware of Canadian parliamentary history and tradition and will enhance their appreciation of some of the most beautifully crafted instruments of our Canadian heritage.


1.The story of the American privateers is presented by Lorne C. Callbeck, the Cradle of Confederation, Fredericton, 1964, p. 74-81.

2. Three very unusual incidents are reported by George Baker, a former Clerk of the Newfoundland House of Assembly, in the article "The Mace of the Newfoundland House of Assembly, Aspects: The Newfoundland Quarter, Vol. 21, No. 1, February 1968. Only one of these incidents is told here.

3. It is possible that both of these Quebec Maces were made in 1867 by the Ottawa artisan, Charles O. Zollikoffer, and it is almost certain that at least one Mace was purchased from his firm. Further research may yield more complete information.

4. This discussion of the Quebec Mace is based on a letter from M. Jean-Charles Bonenfant (deceased), Chief Librarian of the Library of the Quebec Legislature to Mr. Erik Spicer, the Parliamentary Librarian, March 15, 1967. It is included in the collection of documents entitled The Senate Mace, p. 8-A, gathered together by Alcide Pacquette.

5. This incident is reported in the letter to Mr. Spicer from M. Bonenfant, also Jean-Charles Bonenfant, "Un accessoire du parlementarisme", L'Action, 2 février 1967.

6. This point was made in a letter from Mr. Conrad Swan of the College of Arms in London, England to Major Lamoureux, November 28, 1969; reproduced in part in The Senate Mace, p. 5-B

7. Dr. W.F. Ganon, Acadiensis, Vol. 3, No. 2 (1903).


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