Back in 1867 the new born Canada was too young to have its own Coat of Arms and the Royal Coat of Arms severed as the symbol of regal authority over our Dominion. Though heraldic devises had been granted to the colonies of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland in the 17th century everyone (or at least the College of Arms) had forgotten about that. In 1868 Arms were granted to the four founding Provinces: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario. A shield bearing those four arms surmounted by a crown were to serve as the Coat of Arms on the Red Ensign (our unofficial flag for many years).
As more provinces joined the Confederation their Coats of Arms were added - very unofficially and without Royal Grant - to the design. By the time Alberta and Saskatchewan achieved provincial status in September of 1905 the design had become busy to the extreme. Though displayed on the Ensign the design had never been given royal approval. Finally in 1921 - after much maneuvering and a bit of intervention by Winston Churchill - a new Coat of Arms was granted by George V, who also by that Royal Proclamation declared red and white to be our national colours.
The Coat of Arms was to remain unchanged until in 1957 the colour of the leaves was changed to red and the Tudor crown was replaced by that of Edward the Confessor. A further change was made in 1994 when a banner bearing the phrase Desiderantes meliorem patriam (They Desire a Better Country), the motto of the Order of Canada, was added. Recently it has been suggested that symbols indicative of our First Nations, Inuit and Metis heritage be included.
Like our country the Arms of Her Majesty as Queen of Canada (this link will take you to a complete description of the devices) has evolved reflect the changes in our land, and the events and the peoples that have molded it. Happy 147th Birthday Canada; may you, like your Coat of Arms continue to change and evolve and always for the better.
1873: Prince Edward Island joins the Canadian Confederation.