Vic College Development
Motto and Coat of Arms

coat arms

Coat of Arms:  Image size = 57KB

     During Victoria College's inaugural year of affiliation with McGill University, in the fall of 1903, Principal Edward B. Paul felt that the new institution should have an appropriate coat of arms and motto.  He consulted a very bright and keen young McGill graduate on his teaching staff, Rosalind Watson, who sought advice from a local heraldic enthusiast, Albert J. Hill (an engineering graduate of Dalhousie).  Soon there emerged the idea of incorporating an open book, the three red martlets of McGill, and an arm holding a torch, symbolic of learning.  With Mr. Hill's help, the design quickly took shape.  Changed only slightly over the years, this was the coat of arms registered on February 20, 1961 by the College of Arms in London and recogized since July 1, 1963 as the official emblem of the University of Victoria.

     Above the seven flames of the torch appear the Hebrew words from Genesis 1:3 that translate into English as "Let there be light."  Below the shield runs a noble and distinctive Latin motto:  MULTITUDO SAPIENTIUM SANITAS ORBIS ("A multitude of the wise is the health of the world").  This is the Latin Vulgate version of a phrase from the Biblical Apocrypha, The Wisdom of Solomon 6:24.  Its choice as a motto for Victoria College reflects the imagination and impressive learning of E.B. Paul, who came from a family of linguists and biblical scholars.

     Although there could hardly be two institutions outwardly more dissimilar than the Victoria College of 1903 and UVic now, the motto and coat of arms represent a line of continuity.  The University's academic regalia and house flag also reflect historical traditions.  The B.A. hood is of solid red, a colour that recalls the early affiliation with McGill.  The B.Sc. hood, of gold, and the B.Ed. hood, of blue, show the colours of the University of British Columbia.  Blue and gold have been retained as the official colours of the University of Victoria.  We shall see that there are may other elements of continuity and tradition that link the modern University of Victoria with the tiny college from which it grew.

To read the 1961 Victoria College Song with its Shield Verse, click here.

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