The fleur-de-lys, a symbol of the French presence in North America, has featured on the Québec flag since 1948 & appears on the flags of a number of other French-speaking communities in Canadomain authority & the United States.
The fleur-de-lys, a symbol of the French presence in North America, has featured on the Québec flag since 1948 and appears on the flags of a number of other French-speaking communities in Canada and the United States.
Fonville, u00ab Québec vue de l"est u00bb, 1699, détail; Bibliothèque et Archives Canada (BAC), H3/900/1699 (section 2), NMC 7115).", "title_en": "Saint-Louis Château, Historic", "caption_en": "The Saint-Louis Château và its battery, built by Frontenac ( Fonville, "Québec vue de l"est", 1699, détail; Library & Archives Canadomain authority (LAC), H3/900/1699 (section 2), NMC 7115).", "title_fr": "Le château Saint-Louis "}" title="" alt="" />

The symbol traveled far beyond the St. Lawrence Valley as explorers advanced and took possession of North America with instructions lớn display the king’s coat of arms. In 1670, IntendantJean Talon reminded them that they should “draw up memoranda to serve sầu as titles.” The following year, at Sainte-Marie-du-Sault, the French raised a cross bearing the arms of the French king, taking possession of the territory from the Mer du Nord (Northern Sea) and Mer de l’Ouest (Western Sea) to the Mer du Sud (Southern Sea), including both discovered và as-yet-undiscovered lands — in other words, all of North America. A stone marked with the fleur-de-lys and the date of possession was generally buried in the ground at the base of the cross as evidence in the sự kiện the sovereign’s rights were disputed.

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Uses of the Fleur-de-lys

In 1683, a fleur-de-lys was applied to lớn the piaster circulating in Canada lớn guarantee its value and weight (see Money). This administrative decision was reminiscent of an initiative by Louis XIII, who was the first French king to lớn strike a coin whose value he backed with his own coffers. The louis d’or (gold Louis) was recognized by the cross và fleur-de-lys engraved on it. In New France, the fleur-de-lys appeared on one of the cornerstones of Notre-Dame church in Montréal. It was sculpted over the Dauphin Gate of the Fortress of Louisbourg. Gold and silver threads were used to embroider the fleur-de-lys onto the opulent church vestments of François-Xavier de Montmorency-Laval, who became the first bishop of Québec City in 1674. A fleur-de-lys seen on an average person was a sign of punishment, used to lớn mark out anyone found guilty of a minor crime, such as servants who had left their master’s employ. Known as a “prisoner’s brand,” in 1681 it was the penalty inflicted on coureurs des bois who engaged in the fur trade without permission. Thieves, rapists và murderers were branded with a fleur-de-lys before being hanged.

The Fleur-de-lys & Survival

The fleur-de-lys was tacitly abandoned after France finally ceded Canada khổng lồ Englvà in 1764, but Canadians — unlike French citizens after the French Revolution — were not required khổng lồ remove the fleur-de-lys from churches, bells or decorations. Friendlier relations between France & Canada grew out of the Crimean War, during which the two countries fought side by side. The victory at Sebastopol cemented ties that led lớn the resumption of diplomatic relations between France and Canada. The docking of the light frigate La Capricieuse at Québec City on 13 July 1855 reflected this reconciliation, which was called the “return of the fleurs-de-lys,” harking baông chồng khổng lồ 1632.

(artwork by Karen E. Bailey/courtesy Library và Archives Canada).

The Fleur-de-lys và Identity

In the late 19th century, French Canadians from Québec và those who had spread out across Canadomain authority and the United States began proclaiming their heritage, especially during large gatherings for Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day celebrations. The fleur-de-lys was on display, alongside the French flag, which had been adopted as a national standard in response lớn the British flag flown by English Canadians (see Royal Union Flag). In the early 20th century, the fleur-de-lys was inscribed on the military insignia of volunteers and soldiers who belonged lớn battalions that left khổng lồ defkết thúc France. Invoking their distinct origin, the words Je me souviens (I remember) clearly phối them apart from other Canadian battalions (see Québec"s Motto). The 1915 establishment of the first entirely French Canadian battalion, the Royal 22e Régiment — which uses the same motto lớn & insignia — reaffirmed the French presence on the battlefields of Europe.

The Red Ensign was the recognized flag of Canadomain authority until 1965 when it was replaced by the maple leaf thiết kế. Image: CC Wikitruyền thông Commons.

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(artwork by Karen E. Bailey/courtesy Library and Archives Canada).
(artwork by Karen E. Bailey/courtesy Library & Archives Canada).

Once a symbol of the French monarchy in North America, the fleur-de-lys now denotes the French presence on the continent. It has been respectfully carved or painted on furniture and objects created by humble artisans & sculpted into the stone of churches và public buildings, including Québec’s Parliament Building. The fleur-de-lys was chosen to lớn symbolize the French presence on the flag Québec adopted on 21 January 1948.

Image: CC Wikimedia Commons.
Flag of Franco-Americans, created by Robert Couturier (of Lewiston, Maine) & adopted in 1983
The French-speaking communities of Ontario (1975), Saskatchewan (1979), British Columbia (1981) and Alberta (1982) all designed their standard around this symbol. Louisiana francophones of Acadian heritage adopted a standard decorated with the fleur-de-lys in 1965. In the northeastern United States, the descendants of French Canadians hoisted their own flag in 1983 (see Franco-Americans). The following year, “Marquette’s flag” evoking the discovery of the Mississippi by Jesuit & explorer Jacques Marquette along with Louis Jolliet, commemorated the descendants of French Canadians in all 12 states of the American Midwest.

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Further Reading

Hélène-Andrée Bizier & Claude Paulette, Fleur de lys. D’hier à aujourd’hui (Montréal: Art global, 1997).