A Mari usque ad Mare
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A Mari usque ad Mare
A Mari usque ad Mare ("From Sea to Sea"), Canada's motto, was derived from Psalm 72:8, which reads in Latin "Et dominabitur a mari usque ad mare, et a flumine usque ad terminos terrae," and in the King James version, "He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth." Attention was first directed to the verse when, apparently at the suggestion of Samuel Leonard TILLEY, the term "dominion" was chosen to represent Canada as a whole when the British North America Act was drafted.
"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