Canada's Constitutional Monarchy
History of the Canadian Crown
The roots of the monarchy in Canada stretch back into the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Major events in the development of the Canadian Crown are explored. Beginning with the courts of King Henry VII and King Francois I, the Canadian Monarchy is presented as a rich and ancient institution that has often been at the heart of Canada's development as a modern state. Hardly a leftover from the British Empire, the Crown in Canada has been the framework for building a country.
The Canadian Constitution and Authority
Most Canadians are unaware of the complex nature of their country's constitution. Due to Canada's proximity to the United States, many Canadians believe their constitution is a single document that spells out the rules and boundaries of the government. Instead, the Canadian Constitution is a series of both written documents and unwritten traditions, conventions and practices. The idea of royal authority and the vital role of the Crown in our parliamentary democracy help us understand the nature of the Canadian Constitution.
The Queen of Canada
Canada was the first country to proclaim Elizabeth II as Queen in 1952. The Royal Styles and Titles Act of 1953 gave Elizabeth II the unique title of "Queen of Canada." As the personification of the state the Queen is far more than simply a Head of State, rather she is the Sovereign.
The Governor General and the National Crown
The personal representative of the Sovereign in Canada, the governor general, holds the oldest office in the country (stretching back over 400 years). The many important duties of the Queen's federal representative are explored, as well as the connections of past governors general with Canada's development (political, social and cultural).
The Lieutenant Governors and the Provincial Crowns
Each province has a personal representative of the Sovereign, in effect making Canada a "compound monarchy." In a complex confederation such as Canada's, provincial sovereignty is very important. The role of the provincial Crown is explored here with references from across the country.
The Crown in the day-to-day life of the Country
The Crown is everywhere in Canada. It is so much a part of the country's identity and culture that few actually notice that it is there! From national, provincial and local events to sporting events to important symbols the Crown is explored in Ontario highway signs, the Chemin de Roy, Royal Regattas, sporting trophies (Stanley Cup et al), RCMP, the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair and even the Queen dropping the puck at a Vancouver Canucks game (and much more).
First Nations and the Crown
The relationship between the Crown and Canada's First Nations is ancient and remains relevant to this day. Few Canadians realize that treaties are made between First Nations and the Crown and are protected by the honour of the Sovereign. Understanding this rich and complicated bond is essential to understanding the relationship between Canada and its Aboriginal Peoples.
The Military and the Crown
Members of the Canadian Royal Family are intimately involved with the Canadian Forces. It was King George VI and Queen Elizabeth who dedicated Canada's National War Memorial in 1939. Before that, King Edward VIII (in his first and only overseas visit in 1936) dedicated the Vimy National Monument in France - Queen Elizabeth II would rededicate the monument in 2007. The Queen, her family and representatives keep close connections with regiments across the country as colonels in chief. Canadian regiments are discussed, as well as royal symbolism used throughout the Canadian Forces and the important relationships that stretch back (in some cases) centuries.
The Canadian Honours System
A unique and indigenous honours system has developed in this country over the past century. A brief history is given, with examples of both the Canadian and the provincial honours systems. Examples include the Order of Canada, the Canadian Victoria Cross and such provincial orders as Alberta's Order of Excellence.
The Canadian Heraldic Authority
Heraldry – the granting of coats of arms and flags – is an ancient practice that has developed from the 12th century. The Canadian Heraldic Authority was established in 1988 when this prerogative was delegated to the governor general by Queen Elizabeth II. A brief history and explanation of the granting and design process is given, including the responsibilities of Canada's heralds.
Royal and Vice-Regal Tours
The significance of Royal Tours is explored as a way to highlight Canadian business, culture and history. This exploration includes the historic 1939 Royal Tour of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, as well as the 2011 tour of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The Heir to the Throne
A lot of attention is focussed on the Canadian Sovereign, but what about the heir to the throne? The Prince of Wales has found many active ways of being a part of the Canadian state. Prince Charles, the current heir to the throne, is shown as a progressive individual reflecting mainstream Canadian attitudes on such issues as the environment, youth and business. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their increased involvement in Canadian society are also discussed in this chapter.
The Commonwealth and the Queen's Other Realms
The successor of the British Empire, the modern Commonwealth is a dynamic organization that now admits states with no historic connection to the United Kingdom. Within this vast world body are sixteen Commonwealth Realms that acknowledge Elizabeth II as their Sovereign. This does not mean that Commonwealth Realms are subservient to the British Crown. Rather their respective Crowns are now sixteen separate monarchical institutions. Put simply, Elizabeth II's role as Queen of New Zealand is independent from that of Queen of Canada.
Did You Know?
The strength of the institution is in its details - listed here are dozens of interesting stories and histories from across the country that illustrate the depth of the Canadian Crown in our society.
English, French, British, and Canadian sovereigns are listed here as well as governors, governors general, and Canadian officers of the Crown. A glossary is also included in this section.