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Pictou, Nova Scotia (Canada)

Last modified: 2021-08-07 by rob raeside
Keywords: pictou | nova scotia | boat: viking | star | waves |
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[Pictou, Nova Scotia] contributed by Ted Kaye, 30 July 2021

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Description of the flag

A red flag with five white and blue wavy stripes across the bottom, on which sails a ship with a Nova Scotia flag as its sail.

The Town of Pictou (3,437 inhabitants in 2011; 794 ha) is located on the north shore of Pictou Harbour, 10 km north of New Glasgow. Pictou was named for "la reviere de Pictou" (modern French, "la rivière de Pictou", Pictou River), the name given to the harbour by Nicolas Denys, who explored it in the 1660s. Denys was granted in 1653 rights on a larger area, including Cape Breton Island, which he could not successfully developed. On 10 June 1767, the "Betsy", chartered by the Philadelphia Company of Pennsylvania, landed and established the first settlement in the area; in 1770, 20 people lived in Pictou Township. On 15 September 1773, the "Hector" brought 189 Scottish immigrants, who founded the town. Renamed New Paisley in September 1787, Pictou was reestablished under its original name in 1788.

Pictou is the cradle of the Dawson family. James Dawson, arrived from Scotland in 1811, was a wealthy shipowner. His son, Sir (John) William Dawson (1820-1899), born in Pictou, was appointed Nova Scotia's first Superintendant of Education (1850-1853), and, subsequently, Professor of Geology and first Principal of McGill University (1855-1893). Dawson served as the first President of the Royal Society of Canada (1882-1883) and the President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1882). Dawson is considered as one of the founders of palaeobotany. His son George Mercer Dawson (1849-1901), also born in Pictou, was also a geologist and explorer.

Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online - Sir John William Dawson - George Mercer Dawson - Municipal website

The arms of Pictou were originally recorded in the records of the Court of the Lord Lyon, Edinburgh, Scotland, 6 April 1980. They were subsequently confirmed on 30 May 2005 by Letters Patented registered on the Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges, Vol. IV, p. 495, as announced on 11 June 2005 in the Canada Gazette, Vol. 139, p. 2,035. - Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges

The original record describes the arms as follows;
"Gules, upon a base undy argent and azure: an ancient one masted ship in full sail or, its mast flagged of Scotland, the sail emblazoned of the arms of Nova Scotia: (Argent, on a saltire azure an escutcheon of the Royal Arms of Scotland) and in dexter chief a mullet or; above the shield is placed a coronet appropriate to a township: - Argent, embattled and of two towers all agent port and windows azure; and is escrol below the same this motto: "As Constant as the Northern Star" by demonstration of which ensigns armorail the said town is, amongst all Nobles and in All Places of Honour, to be taken, numbered, accounted and received as an incorporation Noble in the Nobelese of Scotland".

The arms were designed by R. Mingo Sweeney, a resident of Pictou, and long-time members of the Heraldry Society of Canada, and assisted by the Heralds of the Court of the Lord Lyon, Edinburgh, Scotland. The symbolism of the armorial bearings of the Town of Pictou is depicted in the following summary.

The classic ship refers to Pictou's heritage of the sea, from which came its original settlers and founders. The flag of Nova Scotia forms the ship's sail. From its mast flies the cross of St. Andrew, the national flag of Scotland, in recognition of Pictou as the first home of the Highland Scots who came to Nova Scotia aboard the Hector in 1773, and who established the Town as the Birthplace of New Scotland. The shield is red, denoting courage and sacrifice, and the "star of the sea" is the guide that brings the ship into a safe harbour. The arms are surmounted by a "mural crown" indicating that Pictou is an incorporated township, and is classified as "Noble" in the Noblese of Scotland.

Motto: "As constant as the northern star". - Municipal website

The flag, seemingly not registered, appears to be a banner of the municipal arms, crown and scroll excluded.
Ivan Sache, 2 August 2012