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St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador (Canada)

Last modified: 2012-12-16 by rob raeside
Keywords: newfoundland and labrador | st johnís |
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[St. John's Newfoundland and Labrador] image by Peter Orenski, 13 November 2012
based on research and information provided by James Croft and Kevin Harrington

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Description of the flag

The flag is white with the city arms centered.
Chris Pinette, 05 April 1999

The City of St. John's (160,172 inhabitants in 2011; 480 sq. km) is the capital of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

St. John's recorded the first permanent settlers with a family named Oxford establishing a plantation probably in the area west of Beck's Cove in the early 1600's. The north side of the harbour saw wharves, fish stores, and warehouses constructed to accommodate the trade which grew as a result of the fishery. A path which crossed the various streams and brooks running down the side of the hill connected these premises. This path later became known as the lower path and later still as Water Street - the oldest commercial street in North America. St. John's performed this role throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as the major commercial and service centre for the Newfoundland fishery. The port's importance as a major cog in this fishery made it a prime military target for any nation wishing to gain control over this important food supply. The earliest record of these battles dates back to 1555 when the Basques travelled overland to capture St. John's from the French. Over one hundred years later, in June 1665, the great Dutch naval strategist Admiral De Ruyter captured St. John's from the English. Commencing in the late seventeenth century and running throughout most of the eighteenth century, the English and French engaged in a series of wars which saw St. John's used frequently as a battle ground. The last of these battles occurred in 1762 when the British recaptured St. John's from the French after a brief fight. The outbreak of the of the Napoleonic Wars in 1791- 92 in Europe saw a growth in the demand for salt fish. The economic boom in the Newfoundland fishery ended with the conclusion of the war. Fish prices fell and generally remained depressed until the outbreak of WW I in 1914. In 1921 St. John's became incorporated as a city with the passage of the City of St. John's Act by the Newfoundland government. - Municipalwebsite (full text)

The flag of St. John's is prescribed in Article 28 of the City of St. John's Act:

28. (1) The city shall have an official flag consisting of a reproduction of the Coat of Arms of the City of St. John's emblazoned in colours on a white background, the proportions of the flag and the position of the Coat of Arms of the City of St. John's on it being those approved by the council.
(2) The official flag of the city referred to in subsection (1) may be flown at all official places and on all official occasions of the city."

The coat of arms of St. John's is prescribed in Articles 23-24 of the City of St. John's Act:
"Coat of Arms
23. (1) The Coat of Arms of the city is that Coat of Arms described as follows:
"Gules a Paschal Lamb proper between in chief two Escallops Argent a Chief of the last charged with an ancient Ship sail set pennon and flag flying upon Water Barry wavy proper And for the Crest Issuant from a Mural Crown Or a Rocky Mount Sable thereon a Lion passant Or between two Roses Gules each charged with another Argent barbed seeded slipped and leaved proper, Mantled Gules, doubled Argent. On either side a male figure the dexter habited as a Mariner of the Fifteenth Century holding an Escroll Argent inscribed thereon the numerals 1497 Sable and the sinister habited as a Mariner of the late Sixteenth Century holding a like Escroll inscribed 1583". 
(2) The Coat of Arms referred to in subsection (1) may for all purposes be called the Coat of Arms of the City of St. John's .
(3) A pictorial representation of the Coat of Arms of the City of St. John's , printed in black and white, is as follows:
Use of Coat of Arms
24. Except with express permission granted by resolution of the council, another person, other than the city, shall not assume or use the Coat of Arms of the City of St. John's or a design in imitation of it or calculated to deceive by its resemblance to it or a paper or other material upon which the Coat of Arms of the City of St. John's or a design in imitation of it or calculated to deceive by its resemblance to it is stamped, engraved, printed or otherwise marked."

The arms and supporters (but not the flag) of St. John's were granted by Letters Patented registered on 15 March 2005 in the Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges, vol. IV, p. 456, as announced on 11 June 2005 in the Canada Gazette, Vo. 139, p. 2,034. The emblems were originally recorded in the records of the College of Arms, London, England, 1 March 1965.

"Supporters: Dexter, a mariner of the 15th century holding an escroll inscribed 1497, sinister a mariner of the late 16th century holding a like escroll inscribed 1583 proper;
Arms: Gules a paschal lamb proper between in chief two escallops argent, a chief argent charged with an ancient ship its pennon and flag flying proper upon barry wavy azure and argent;
Crest: Issuant from a mural crown or a rocky mount sable thereon a lion passant or between two Tudor roses slipped proper;
Motto: AVANCEZ." - Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges

Memorial University of Newfoundland prepared the following interpretation of the City Crest:
"The saint after which the City is named is symbolized on the shield by the lamb, carrying a banner bearing St. Georgeís Cross, and scalloped shells. The ship, sailing on waves at the top of the shield, refers to the provinceís early discoverers and explorers. The shield is supported on the left by a mariner of the fifteenth century bearing the year the island was discovered by Cabot. The supporter on the right is a mariner of the late sixteenth century, bearing the date 1583 - the year Sir Humphrey Gilbert claimed the island for England. The stone wall of the crest stands for civic authority, while the lion and roses refer back to the Cityís British heritage. "Avancez" or "advance", the Cityís motto, can be seen at the base of the coat of arms". - Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 29 July 2012