"From sea to sea" could not apply to Canada until 1871, when BC joined Confederation and the Dominion extended from Atlantic to Pacific. In 1872 Rev George Monro GRANT crossed the country as secretary to Sandford FLEMING, who was then in charge of the Pacific railway surveys. The next year he published Ocean to Ocean, his journal describing the journey. The title is akin to "from sea to sea" and strong tradition insists that thereafter Grant preached in many centres using Psalm 72:8 as his text and advocating the adoption of "from sea to sea" as Canada's motto.
The first official use came in 1906, when the phrase was engraved on the head of the mace of the Legislative Assembly of the new Province of Saskatchewan. This would be known to Joseph POPE, undersecretary of state at the time, and the phrase evidently impressed him. In 1919 Pope was named to a 4-member committee appointed by the federal government to recommend a new design for the Arms of Canada. No motto was included in the old design, but one was to be included in the new arms. A draft design, which included the motto, was approved by Cabinet in April 1921 and by King George V in May. Major-General W.G. Gwatkin, one of the committee members, had proposed that the motto be In memoriam in spem ("In memory, in hope"), but Pope's counterproposal was adopted. On 29 September 1921, after viewing the final design, he wrote in his diary: "Our Arms are very handsome ... everything that can be desired. The motto 'A Mari usque ad Mare,' which is an original suggestion of my own, I regard as very appropriate." See also EMBLEMS OF CANADA; HERALDRY.
Author W. KAYE LAMB
Links to Other Sites
Symbols of Canada
An illustrated guide to national and provincial symbols of Canada, our national anthem, national and provincial holidays, and more. Click on "Historical Flags of Canada" and then "Posters of Historical Flags of Canada" for additional images. From the Canadian Heritage website.
'To sea' or not 'to sea': that is the question
A CBC News story about proposed changes to Canada's official motto "A Mari usque ad Mare" or "From sea to sea."
Time to herald our northern coast?
A news story about proposals to modify Canada's motto so that it recognizes Canada's northern coast, a change that could strengthen Canadian sovereignty claims in the Arctic. From thestar.com.