Leaside’s coat of arms stays out of trouble

Leaside Coat of Arms.
Leaside Coat of Arms.

November 8 Toronto Star caught my attention: “Etobicoke’s coat of arms is set to be removed after being criticized as offensive” and I thought, hmm – I wonder if there’s anything problematic about Leaside’s coat of arms? So, I decided to look into it. (Actually, I beavered away, pun intended!)

Checking out coats of arms

What was the problem with Etobicoke’s coat of arms, you might ask? It depicts an Indigenous man, and explorer Étienne Brûlé, and underneath the Indigenous man is the word “Tradition,” and under the explorer is “Progress.”

The Star quotes Chief R. Stacey Laforme of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation: “It’s that same old stereotypical thinking: ‘The First Nations had their traditions … they were backward, and we’re the ones that showed them progress.’ And we know that’s not true.”

So, what about Leaside’s coat of arms; does it also allude to Canada’s colonialist history? I decided to explore further. The Leaside coat of arms (displayed here) has no Indigenous figure, or settler for that matter, and no allusion to colonialist history or thinking. That’s a relief!

Instead, it features a beaver – a symbol of diligence – sitting above a shield composed of a (rather suburban-looking) house, along with a rising sun, and maple leaves below, together with a three-part motto – “Itineris Stabilitas Sanitas,” which translates from the Latin to “journey, stability, health.” And set in a pleasant colour scheme of green and yellow.

Seems to me that the coat of arms, its motto and colour scheme are uncontroversial. Fittingly like Leaside?  

The Town’s coat of arms, along with the motto, is embossed on a stone feature attached to the walls on both sides of the entrance to the former Town’s municipal building on McRae Drive, west of Randolph. The only public place, but surely a fitting place!

About Geoff Kettel 223 Articles
Geoff Kettel is a community connector and advocate for “making places better”. He is currently Co-President of the Leaside Residents Association, Co-Chair of the Federation of North Toronto Residents‘ Associations (FoNTRA), member of the Toronto Preservation Board and Past Chair of the North York Community Preservation Panel. He writes a monthly column on heritage and planning in Leaside Life.