Majesty in Canada
If these banners, hanging like silent sermons on the walls of
colleges, make their message felt here and there, and convert
one out of 10,000 into a Hero, and one out of 100,000 into a
saviour, they well more than justify their cost and all the
heart and labour put into them.1
— Governor General Grey
The ninth Governor General to Canada, Albert Henry George, 4th Earl Grey (1851–1917), was a staunch imperialist whose term of office (1904–11) was marked by numerous projects intended to shape Canadian identity within the framework of empire. Grey asserted, “The British Empire appears to me to be the religion of righteousness itself.”2 Writing in 1945, his son, Charles, reminisced that while in Canada his father was continually “trying to get Canadian Schools to look on themselves as part of the Empire.”3 Governor General Grey’s correspondence reveals that he believed that through royal exemplar the inculcation of British values and ideals would be ensured. “I wanted my banners to suggest in the minds of those who lived under them or with them, a sentiment for colour, for art and for idealism.”4
The focus of this paper is what the Governor General called “a little scheme,” a series of embroidered and appliquéd banners that were worked in England and sent to Canada at his request. Lord Grey presented the banners, mostly of St. George, to various institutions of learning where they have hung largely undisturbed for almost a century. Their provenance has gone
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Publication information: Book title: Majesty in Canada: Essays on the Role of Royalty. Contributors: Colin M. Coates - Editor. Publisher: Dundurn. Place of publication: Toronto. Publication year: 2006. Page number: 98.
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