Government of Saskatchewan
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     Sunday, September 21, 2014
Protocol Office
1831 College Avenue

Phone: 306-787-8965
Toll free: 1-877-427-5505
Fax: 306-787-1269
Did You Know?

Saskatchewan has close to 20,000 Francophones and over 50,000 French-speakers.

The Great Seal is one of the oldest symbols of sovereignty, dating back to medieval times; it signifies the power and authority of the Crown flowing from the Sovereign to our parliamentary government.  The seal is impressed directly on the document, or on an adhesive paper wafer affixed to the document, or on a separate piece of paper attached to the document by a ribbon.

This practice goes back to medieval times when the royal seal (usually an impression of a die on wax) confirmed the decisions and decrees of the sovereign.  In the same way, individuals and organizations affixed their own seals to letters and documents in order to prevent tampering or ensure authenticity.  Today, lawyers and corporations still use seals to certify legal documents and official certificates.  Similarly, governments authenticate formal state documents with Great Seals.

A typical seal consists of two engraved metal dies, negative and positive, or reverse and obverse, on a press.  Usually the seal is impressed by the dies either directly on the document placed between them, or on an adhesive paper wafer affixed to the document.  A more antiquated practice is to impress the seal on a separate piece of paper attached to the document by a ribbon.

The Great Seal of Canada

Seals of the monarchs of France and then Britain were used on official documents in the Canadian colonies of New France and British North America. Since Confederation in 1867, the Great Seal of Canada has depicted the reigning monarch, beginning with Queen Victoria, and therefore has changed with each reign.

At first, the Great Seal of Canada was a "deputed" or delegated seal of the British sovereign.  In 1931, with Canada's accession to full sovereignty through the Statute of Westminster, the Great Seal became that of the King or Queen of Canada.

The present Great Seal of Canada, introduced in 1955, shows Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II wearing the St. Edward's Crown, holding a sceptre and orb, and seated on the Coronation throne, with the shield of arms of Canada before her.  Surrounding this image is the legend, Reine du Canada, Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada.  The Great Seal of Canada is in the custody of the Governor General.

Provincial Great Seals

Since 1869, the Canadian provinces have had their own Great Seals.  This reflects their co-sovereign status in Confederation, where certain powers are reserved exclusively to provincial jurisdiction.  The Federal Act of 1877 confirmed the right of the provinces to Great Seals.

The seals of the provinces and territories display their shield of arms or coat of arms. Unlike the Great Seal of Canada, most provincial Great Seals are permanent instruments which do not refer to the reigning monarch by name and thus do not change with each reign.  The exceptions are Newfoundland, which has always included the name of the sovereign on its Great Seal; British Columbia since 1987; and Saskatchewan since 1991.

The first Great Seal of Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan Act of 1905 establishing the Province of Saskatchewan authorized the Lieutenant Governor to adopt and provide a Great Seal and to change it when required.

On September 5, 1905, during Saskatchewan's first week as a province, the Lieutenant Governor authorized his own "privy seal" for use by Saskatchewan on an interim basis.

By Royal Warrant, on August 25, 1906, King Edward VII granted Saskatchewan its first official emblem: a shield of arms, displaying a royal lion in the upper third of the shield and three wheat sheaves in the lower two-thirds. 

The shield of arms appeared on the first Great Seal of Saskatchewan, which was authorized by order-in-council on November 26, 1906, and came into use on December 1, of the same year.  The legend surrounding the shield of arms reads: The Great Seal of the Province of Saskatchewan.  The seal is 69 millimetres (2.7 inches) in diameter.

This Great Seal was in continuous use for 85 years, until replaced in 1991.  It is now on permanent display in the Legislative Building in Regina.

The current Great Seal of Saskatchewan

In 1986 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II granted complete armorial bearings, or a full coat of arms, to Saskatchewan.  On September 16, 1986 Governor General Jeanne Sauve signed the Royal Warrant for the new armorial bearings on behalf of Her Majesty at a ceremony in the Legislative Chamber.  On the same occasion Lieutenant Governor F.W. Johnson signed a provincial Royal Proclamation bringing the new coat of arms into official use.

By order-in-council of May 7, 1991, the Government of Saskatchewan authorized a new Great Seal incorporating the coat of arms.  Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Fedoruk brought this Great Seal into use by Royal Proclamation on November 1, 1991.

The 1991 Great Seal is the same size as the original.  In 1991 Saskatchewan adopted the historic practice of incorporating the name of the reigning monarch on the Great Seal.    In its centre is the complete coat of arms of the province surrounded by the legend Elizabeth II Queen of Canada and The Great Seal of the Province of Saskatchewan, denoting the Great Seal as the official seal of the Queen in right of Saskatchewan and the ultimate symbol of authority and sovereignty in the province.

The Great Seal is entrusted by the Lieutenant Governor to the custody of the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General. It is normally impressed on an adhesive red wafer affixed to the document concerned. It is imprinted on proclamations, letters patent, the certificates of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, and other significant state documents signed by the Lieutenant Governor in the name of the Sovereign.

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