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.

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