The evolution of Canada’s federal identity, from 1900s to 2000s

1921

Arms of Canada is proclaimed

The Canadian Coat of Arms is adopted by royal proclamation and introduced on government stationery. The colours red and white were declared to be Canada’s official colours.

1921
1957 OCT

Arms of Canada is updated

To assist with reproduction, the arms of Canada was redrawn in 1957 by Alan Beddoe. The new rendering of the arms included red leaves and, at the Queen’s request, the Tudor crown replaced the St. Edward’s crown.

1957 OCT
1963 JAN

Deliberating national symbols with provinces

Letter sent to provinces inviting the premiers of all provinces to meet with the Prime Minister to discuss the choice of national symbols.

1963 JAN
1964 SEPT

Canadian Flag Committee

On September 10, 1964, the Canadian Flag Committee, consisting of 15 Members of Parliament, announced the final Canadian flag design. The initial rendering of the flag, designed by George Stanley, consisted of a 13-point maple leaf. The final version, refined by Jacques Saint-Cyr, is the 11-point maple leaf flag we see today.

1964 SEPT
1965 JAN

Canadian flag is proclaimed

On January 28, 1965, Queen Elizabeth II approved the new Canadian flag by royal proclamation. The signing of the proclamation took place in London, with both Prime Minister Pearson and Leader of the Opposition Diefenbaker in attendance.

View the proclamation

1965 JAN
1967

Canada wordmark, 1st appearance

While the Canada wordmark is often referenced as being created in 1965, however, its first appearance in modified Baskerville with the Canadian flag appearing over the final letter “a” was in 1967.

1967
1969

Official Languages Act

The Official Languages Act is proclaimed, establishing the principle of equality between English and French.

1969
1969 AUG

Government Task Force

The Task Force on Government Information reported that the government was failing to make its presence known and that important federal programs were being carried out without the public being aware of their sponsorship.

In its report “To know and be known”, the Task Force observed that federal organizations did not project a uniform, clearly identifiable image as functional parts of the same government. Many organizational titles failed to distinguish clearly public from private, or federal from provincial. Furthermore, through the use of different and uncoordinated symbols – many of very poor design – each organization identified itself as a separate entity.

1969 AUG
1970 OCT

Federal Identity Program is created

The creation of the Federal Identity Program (FIP) is announced in the House of Commons on October 23, 1970. Standardization and clear identification of federal activities were cited as main objectives. Information Canada, a new agency, is made responsible to develop and implement the program.

The search for a unique symbol for the Government of Canada involves consultations with members of the opposition, market testing, design research and legal review.

Read the statement

1970 OCT
1971

The federal symbol begins to be implemented

Staff responsible for the Federal Identity Program at Information Canada begin to work with departments to implement the new federal symbol on corporate identity products.

Read the fact sheet

1971
1974

Federal Identity Program, 1st policy guidelines

Treasury Board approved the first policy guidelines that included the use of the two official languages and a management system for the development and implementation of the program.

1974
1976

Federal Identity Program moves to TBS

Information Canada is disbanded after 6 years of operation. Responsibility for the Federal Identity Program is transferred to the Administrative Policy Branch of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.

1976
1978

Federal Identity Program, 1st design standards

Treasury Board issued a comprehensive policy and design standards.

1978
1981 FEB

Use of the Canada wordmark is expanded

A news release by the President of the Treasury Board announced plans for the expanded use of the Canada wordmark for all federal identity applications, noting that: “The Canada wordmark is intended to provide a clear and attractive expression of the federal presence”.

Read the new release

1981 FEB
1987 MAY

Switch to full flag symbol

After an extensive design review, the use of the bar and maple leaf symbol is replaced by the full Canadian flag. Rational for the switch is based on improved effectiveness.

Use of the new symbol is phased in over time, applied to new stocks when existing material or equipment is refurbished.

1987 MAY
1987 MAY

FIP Manual

From 1987 to 1997, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat publishes a comprehensive manual of design standards in 16 volumes.

1987 MAY
1990 OCT

New Federal Identity Program policy

Treasury Board issues a new Federal Identity Program policy and guidelines superseding all previous versions, and issues the Management Guide to corporate identity.

The first electronic versions of the federal identity symbols and the list of designated contacts becomes available in December 1990.

1990 OCT
1994 JAN

Arms of Canada is updated

The arms of Canada was redrawn in 1994 Cathy Bursey-Sabourin. The new rendering of the arms included the ribbon behind the shield with the motto of the Order of Canada. 
1994 JAN
1996 JAN

Primary sign redesign

A new standard of Federal Identity Program primary signs is approved (i.e., the main exterior federal sign). The new design includes light grey bars at the top and bottom and a dark grey middle, which is used for messaging. The new design is to be phased in over time.

1996 JAN
1996 JUN

Canada wordmark signs added

The National Canada Wordmark Program is initiated, with the objective to install wordmark signs on the exterior of select high profile federally owned and leased buildings across Canada.

1996 JUN
1997 MAY

Tactile signs added

A tactile signage system is issued by Treasury Board as part of the Federal Identity Program Manual. Included is information on the universal signage requirements for washrooms, stairs and exits, fabricated with braille and raised lettering and pictograms.

Adding tactile signs to the Federal Identity Program is a response the Treasury Board Real Property Policy on Accessibility for federal buildings. The signs reflect universal design principles, a benefit for the whole public.

1997 MAY
1998 MAR

Strengthening of the Federal Identity Program Policy

Treasury Board amends the Federal Identity Program Policy, to strengthen federal presence, by issuing new policy decisions:

  • the identity of the Government of Canada is to have primacy over the identity of individual institutions;
  • the Canada wordmark is to be applied to all federal corporate identity applications;
  • creating a common look and feel for all federal websites;
  • the Canada wordmark is to be displayed on selected high profile buildings across Canada;
  • federal uniformed employees are to be clearly identified with Federal Identity Program identifiers;
  • all federal custodians are to ensure that leases incorporate Federal Identity Program signage, Canada wordmark signs and displaying the flag;
  • Government of Canada identity requirements are to be part of collaborative arrangements with the private sector and other governments or jurisdictions; and
  • institutional symbols not complying with the Federal Identity Program will require the authorization of the Treasury Board.
1998 MAR
1998

Common Look and Feel Internet Working Group is established

In response to Treasury Board Ministers decisions on strengthening federal presence and visibility in electronic media, Treasury Board Secretariat established the Common Look & Feel (CLF) 77 member Working Group, representing some 50 departments.

The working group’s mandate was to establish mandatory standards and procedures for visually presenting, accessing, organizing and navigating through the information displayed on Government of Canada Internet and Intranet sites.

1998
1999

Inventory of non-FIP logos

Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat conducts an inventory of non-FIP logos across the federal government. A government-wide reduction of non-FIP logos follows.

1999
2000 JAN

Final report on Common Look and Feel for the Internet

The Federal Identity Program’s report to Treasury Board ministers contained 45 recommendations for technical standards and emphasized: a citizen-centred approach; visibility and recognition through consistent identification; common sense navigation connections; and information design standards.

2000 JAN