Artist felt ‘responsible’ to get coat of arms ‘right’
Eva Pilar-Cass has designed numerous coats of arms as assigned by the Canadian Heraldic Authority.
But when she was assigned the task to design the new coat of arms for the City of Sault Ste. Marie and the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service, she froze.
“This was different. I’ve worked for the (Heraldic) Authority since 1994 but this assignment was for my city,” the artist told The Sault Star Monday.
The city’s new coat of arms was unveiled in the city council chamber Monday at the inauguration of the new city council.
“Usually I take the job, visit the city and get to work but this one made me nervous,” Pilar-Cass said. “I felt very responsible. I felt very responsible because this is our city and I had to get it right. There was a lot of pressure.”
Pilar-Cass lives in Waboose, but she considers Sault Ste. Marie part of her home.
“I think I spent more time on this than any of the other works I’ve done,” she said. “I think I was afraid it wasn’t going to be good enough.”
Instead, Pilar-Cass said she’s pleased with the final design and the prominent location the coat of arms is given behind the mayor’s chair in council chamber.
Pilar-Cass said the process to create a coat of arms is sometimes difficult. It begins with following a written blazon that was created, visualize it and transform it into a picture.
The process goes back and forth until final approval and the colours are approved.
Sault Ste. Marie’s official coat of arms includes working with 24-karat gold, a technique that goes back in time to the medieval period where manuscripts were written in churches and monasteries, she said.
The Corporation of the City of Sault Ste. Marie’s official coat of arms is in blue, white and yellow, the colours of the city.
The arms include side segments and chevrons evoke the historic locks of the Sault Ste. Marie Canal. The centre section also resembles the cross section of a steel girder, this alluding to the steel industry that is an important part of the city’s history. The whitefish also represents a species found in great numbers in the St. Mary’s rapids. The lily is a symbol of St. Mary and thus alludes to the city’s name and pays tribute to the city’s French heritage.
The crest includes the Clergue Block House and its distinctive local historic structure.
The crest also includes the motto Ojibwe phrase, “Ojibwe Gchi Gami Odena,” meaning, “Settlement near the Ojibwe’s big lake.” Sault Ste. Marie is the first and only city to have a motto on a coat of arms in Ojibway.
The supporters on the crest include the eastern or timber wolf. The crucibles, held by long shafts, are tools used by steelworkers to gather molten steel and reference the city’s steel industry heritage.
The base marks the significance of the local forestry industry, and the white-capped waves make reference tot he St. Mary’s rapids.
The maple leaves indicate the city’s identity as a Canadian border municipality, their gold colour alluding to those in the coat of arms of Ontario.
The original concept was created by Bruce Patterson, deputy chief Herald of Canada and assisted by the heralds of the Canadian Heraldic Authority.
Eva Pilar-Cass said she's pleased with the final design and prominent location the coat of arms she created has been given, behind the mayor's chair in Sault Ste. Marie's council chamber.