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LETTER: Updating city's coat of arms 'reasonable and appropriate'

Local man who worked with Canada's Chief Herald provides context, insight into Orillia's coat of arms, flag processes

OrilliaMatters welcomes letters to the editor. This letter is in response to an article regarding the City of Orillia’s coat of arms. Send your letters to


As the graphic artist who worked with the Chief Herald of Canada, in the official heralding process, let me provide some clarity to the Orillia coat of arms design questions.

The Governor General’s office oversees the official recognition (heralding) of coats of arms and flags. The colour of the paddler was determined by the Chief Herald, as were many other aspects of the design.

The Orillia coat of arms has existed for many years in various renderings. I have included an example from the mid-1980s.

In the mid-1990s I was tasked with creating a design for the new Orillia Police Service. The existing crest was reworked to suit. The paddler was shown in tan colour. (Example included.)

The artwork was also used in other printings in the mid-’90s.

Orillia also held an open design contest which resulted in the city flag.

For official recognition of these two identifiers, the city was required to submit to the Chief Herald of Canada, an office of the Governor General.

At no cost to the city, I offered to help shepherd the project and provide renderings. Through consultations, it was determined to add the fish weirs as a representation of our Indigenous heritage. The ground was also added to show trillium, daisies and cattails to represent our forests, fields and wetlands.

Included is the page explaining the Chief Herald’s instructions on colour. We were also required to change the crown, add the helmet, cloth, medallions to the deer, change the sun to match the flag and adjust the colours. The artwork now used by the city was provided by the Chief Herald’s office.

I hold a deep respect and understanding of the challenges faced by our Indigenous peoples and fully understand the need to adjust elements to avoid perpetuating harmful messaging. Personally, it is my belief a request to change the paddler colour would be reasonable and appropriate.

John B. Emberson
Cumberland Beach