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Coat of Arms & City Symbols

Coat of Arms

View larger imageBurnaby's new coat of arms was developed in conjunction with the 100th birthday celebrations in 1992. Elements from Burnaby's unique natural and historical heritage are drawn together in a centuries-old art form to create this heraldic symbol.

Shield of Arms

The shield of arms is a visual metaphor of Burnaby's location at the heart of the Lower Mainland. The blue of the Inlet on the North and the Fraser on the South is separated by the gold of the land, representing both the riches of nature and those created by human endeavour. The eagle, symbolizing the spirit of the whole community, lies at the centre of the design. This symbolic bird also refers to the rich natural attributes of Burnaby Mountain and the wildlife which makes its home there. The wings of the eagle are decorated with water symbols: one each for Deer Lake and Burnaby Lake.


The crest (found above the shield) blends symbols honouring Burnaby's past with others representing civic government. The dominant colours, red and white, are the national colours of Canada and are also those featured in the 16th century coat of arms of Robert Burnaby's ancestors. The crown of silver stones with red masonry is the ancient heraldic emblem for municipal corporations. It is decorated with a heraldic stylization of strawberry flowers (fraises), referring to the strawberry farms once found throughout the municipality and now symbolizing the market gardens on the South Slope riverside lands by the Fraser River. These fraises are also the main element in the arms of the Fraser Clan of which Simon Fraser was an illustrious member. The lion is taken directly from the Burnaby family arms, honouring the District's namesake and the efforts of all the pioneers. It also symbolizes the spirit of the District government, headed by the Mayor and Council. This idea is emphasized by having the lion uphold the district flag.


The motto, "By River and Sea Rise Burnaby", continues the sentiment found on the first District Seal dating from 1892, the year of incorporation, providing a link with heritage represented in the original symbol.


The supporters are two deer, male and female, representing the natural heritage of the District. The men and women who have helped create and preserve Burnaby are made distinctive from other supporters elsewhere in Canada by adding the collars of red rhododendrons, the municipal flower.

Official Seal

1893 Municipal Seal

1893 City SealThe use of seals, either in wax or embossed on paper, to authenticate records and laws, is a practice as old as writing itself. Seals of this nature were applied directly to the face of the document and helped maintain a document's authenticity by certifying the identity of the creator and the originality of the record.

Burnaby was incorporated under British Columbia's Municipal Act which specified that the executive powers of every municipality were to be exercised by the elected Reeve and Councillors. Further it stated that "Each Municipal Council shall have a corporate seal and the municipality shall enter into all contracts under the same seal, which shall be fixed on all contracts by virtue of an order of the Council." Shortly after incorporation of the Municipality in 1892 it is assumed that Burnaby Council ordered the creation of the municipality's first Municipal Seal as it appeared on bylaw documents and debentures created as early as 1892.

This first seal featured a pastoral scene that was a common sight in pioneer Burnaby - a farmer and his horse ploughing his fields with a small cabin in view overshadowed by the tall trees of the forest. In the background a sailing ship on the Pacific Ocean is centered within the setting sun. Above the scene a motto banner is decorated with a beaver and maple leaves - the symbols of Canada. Written in Latin this first Municipal motto was "Concilio et Labore", which roughly translates to: "United through Work".

1893 Brass City SealA mystery surrounds the disappearance of this original seal. The seal was in use until 1898 when the Great Fire of New Westminster (September 10-11, 1898) destroyed and damaged Burnaby's municipal papers which were being housed in the offices of Clerk Alexander Philip. It appears that Council may have assumed that the original seal was lost in this fire and ordered a replacement in 1899.

In fact the seal actually had been broken off its original press prior to the fire and had been sent out for repair to local machinist Edward William Brooks. Whether Council decided to abandon its attempt to repair the seal or had forgotten about its location is not known.

The brass seal mould did survive, however, and was passed from Edward W. Brooks to his son George Brooks, who in turn passed it on to his daughter Barbara. In July 1995 Barbara Nicholls, through the aegis of the Burnaby Historical Society, presented the seal to Burnaby City Council and in 2002 this important artifact was deposited into the collection of Burnaby Village Museum.

1899 Municipal Seal

1899 City SealOn January 21, 1899 the Reeve was requested and authorized by the Council to "have a suitable seal made for the use of this Corporation". This new seal was considerably different from the original seal. A banner contained the new euphonious motto 'By River and Sea Rise Burnaby'. It featured a small cabin beside a forest and stream. In the foreground was a Horn of Plenty or cornucopia filled with fruit and vegetables reflecting Burnaby's agricultural production. This seal was reproduced graphically by City staff and used for many years on official letterhead and other documents.

In 1930 the original crude drawing of the seal was revised by Norman Hawkins F.R.G.S. of the Municipality's Engineering Department staff and used for many years. In the 1970s the drawing was again redrawn and the municipality's Graphic Designer mistook Hawkins image of a large ribbed melon for Bananas. This new seal design made Burnaby's image rather more tropical than intended by the original designer.

1992 Civic Seal

1992 City SealIn 1992 when Burnaby became incorporated as a City a new seal was adopted using the coat of arms presented to the City in 1991.

It is still used today and is impressed into the City's original by-law documents, proclamations and civic awards certificates.



City Flag

In proper heraldic fashion, the flag is composed of the elements on the Coat of Arms shield reshaped to serve as a banner.

A Burnaby flag is now flown outside Burnaby City Hall.


City BadgeWhen heraldry was first invented circa 800 years ago, a popular approach used in creating a design involved using symbols which were a pun on the name of the corporation or individual. This is a contemporary example of that approach for "burn-a-bee" that has been drawn for use as the civic badge. Here the Burnaby civic 'crown' has been taken from the crest and blended with flames and a bee.

Burnaby's Official Flower

The rhododendron was selected as Burnaby's official flower in 1966 as part of Burnaby's preparations for marking Canada's Centennial year. The Parks and Recreation Commission, during the latter part of 1966, decided that the 1967 Centennial should be celebrated with a horticultural theme that would see hundreds of roses, azaleas and rhododendrons planted throughout the Municipality. In the course of planning, the Commission considered the idea of Burnaby adopting an official flower as part of the celebration. When deciding what flower would be the appropriate symbol for Burnaby earlier selections such as the yellow iris and the rose were rejected because of their short flowering spans and the difficulty of growing and maintaining them.

Pink Rhododendron

The Commission finally selected the rhododendron because they would produce the most show, possessed great variety of size and colour and required the least expense and maintenance. Councillor Doreen Lawson was instrumental in the selection and promotion of this new symbol. In 1966 in an interview with the Courier-Examiner she said: "The plants are ideally suited to our coast climate, well adapted to the acid soil types prevalent here. They're easily propagated and may be grown economically and are relatively free from insect and disease ravages and can be relied upon to put forth flowers in great abundance each spring, creating a show which would draw tourists while it beautified Burnaby".

The rhododendron was officially adopted by Council on August 22, 1966. Century Gardens was established as the municipality's Centennial Project at Deer Lake Park and became a rhododendron display garden that remains as one of the best of its kind in the province. In 1992 as part of Burnaby's Centennial a new hybrid rhododendron was propagated and named "Burnaby Centennial".

Burnaby's Logo

City of Burnaby LogoThe Corporation of the District of Burnaby adopted the use of a new logo that was approved by Council in 1976 as part of an overall "Visual Identity Program". Its 'pop-art' style reflects the graphic design trend of the day, as does the use of a logo for identifying a corporate place of business.

The meaning of the new logo was articulated in a 1976 description: "The new symbol has been created within the basic confines of a circle - a cohesive unit projecting the image of a well planned and solid community. This geometric shape is divided into radial spokes to impart the feeling of integration which in turn suggests a community with many branches and activities, but one strong nucleus. Also seen here is the anthropomorphic or human shape which conveys the impression of a group of people holding hands. The final factor is the environmental one. It is transmitted throughout the overall form, being similar to that of a tree and through the colour green".

In 1992, when Burnaby was incorporated as a City on its centennial, the logo was redesigned with a new colour and font.

  • Heritage Burnaby

    Heritage BurnabyMoreFor more information on the City's history, visit Heritage Burnaby.
  • Burnaby Blooms Festival

    Burnaby Blooms FestivalMoreFormerly known as Rhododendron Festival.