Shield of Arms

of New Scotland (Nova Scotia)

[Nova Scotia Shield of
Arms]New Scotland (Nova Scotia) Shield of Arms

Revised by Alasdair McKay, February, 2001

The Arms of Nova Scotia represent a unique union of the Royal and National Arms of Scotland. When King Charles I granted these Arms in 1625, it was considered a special mark of royal favour. The cross of Saint Andrew from the National Arms, with colours reserved, is a blue cross on a field of white or silver. The shield of the Royal Arms contains the royal lion within a double red border on a field of yellow or gold and is at the centre.

Records of the Ancient Arms of Nova Scotia disappeared with the loss of the early Lyon Register during the English Civil War. They were not re-entered by the Lyon Court until about 1805.

Nova Scotia's interest in the ancient Arms languished until Confederation in 1867 substituted undistinguished new Arms. Resistance to the new Arms grew however. While ceremonies in 1921 marked the 300th anniversary of the Province's Royal Charter, historians and scholars meeting in Annapolis Royal successfully petitioned the provincial government to seek restoration of the ancient Arms of Nova Scotia.

[Nova Scotia
Arms]New Scotland (Nova Scotia) Arms The complete armorial achievement of the province includes two bearers - a Unicorn and a Native Indian and carries the motto:

Munit haec et altera vincit

This is translated by 21st century officialdom (notably the N.S. Department of Tourism) as having the meaning :

" the one defends and the other conquers "

although it is unclear as to what "the one" and "the other" could possibly be. Such a reference cannot apply to the unicorn and Indian supporters, because these have never been artistically portrayed as female in gender, which the form of the Latin pronouns "haec" and "altera" would demand. Since this translation does not really make much sense, it seems only intelligent to look again at the Latin text to find the intent of the early 17th century author of the motto.

An alternative translation is quite obvious, and since it makes perfectly good sense, there would seem to be no reason not to apply Occam's razor in declaring it to be the more likely translation. The pronouns "haec" and "altera" could indeed be nominative feminine singular but they could equally well be accusative neuter plural and the latter assumption leads to the much more reasonable rendering into English as :

"It (the colony or province) fortifies these (territories) and conquers {the} others"

Although the early 17th century Scots colonists did not live up to this expansionist motto, it was realised in the fullness of time when, in the latter half of the 18th century, Wolfe set forth from the bastion of Halifax to take both Louisbourg and Quebec and when Cooke mastered his hydrographic craft while based in Nova Scotian waters before going on to carry out extensive charting in both the Atlantic and Pacific. Thus through a combination of warlike and peaceful activity, did the fortifications of Nova Scotia lay the vital foundations for the Nation of Canada " a mari usque ad mare ". At the present day, in the 21st century, the Province of Nova Scotia continues to adhere to its motto by continuing its expansion, in cooperation with its now fully grown progeny (Canada) by making moves to annex the Continental Slope and Rise under the opportunities made available by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea . We may hope that this activity will be carried out more by the followers of Cooke than of Wolfe.

Although the Nova Scotian motto, when seen separate from the arms can really only have the one meaning (above), the possibility of a pun in the Arms certainly does exist, in that the "haec" and "altera" pronouns could be taken to refer to the clasped hands ("manus" - a feminine noun) which appear as a crest above the helm. The armoured hand would indicate a hand ready for a fight, whereas the bare hand would indicate a hand ready to engage in some constructive work such as that of a mason or other artisan. In this context, the motto, in addition to its more obvious meaning, could also be read: "the one hand fortifies and the other hand conquers", which might more freely be rendered "the one hand does the manual work and the other does the fighting". The word "defend" should not be used as that implies a readiness to fight and would have been rendered in Latin by use of the verb "defendere", whereas the Latin verb "munire" implies much more the construction, supply and provisioning work associated with setting up an appropriately fortified and viable camp, base or township. This may suggest either a division of labour for practical pioneering purposes between groups within the colony who meet on equal terms (the handshake), or else might, in the whimsy of the pun, mean that each individual could expect to have to have one hand ready for either purpose at a moment's notice (though that would seem to require an individual to have two right hands).

[New Scotland (Nova Scotia) -=- Where the Heart is Still Highland!]
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