Undoubtedly, the majority of globally recognizable brands and logos hail from the United States, with even the most remote corners of the world likely familiar with logos like McDonald’s or Coca-Cola. However, the same cannot be said for most Canadian logos or those from various other countries.
Nevertheless, Canada boasts a diverse array of logos and brands that hold immediate recognition for its citizens, having become integral parts of the country’s cultural identity. Despite this familiarity, the stories behind their design often remain obscured and underappreciated. In the following list, we shed light on some of Canada’s most iconic logos and emblems, unveiling the forgotten or lesser-known narratives behind their creation.
1. Arms of Canada:
The Coat of Arms of Canada’s adoption might surprise many Canadians, as it occurred after the First World War. King George V proclaimed the arms on November 21, 1921, intending to mirror those of Great Britain, reinforcing Canada’s historical ties to the monarchy.
2. Northwest Territories:
The Northwest Territories logo showcases the iconic polar bear, a symbol of Canada’s northern regions, gracefully walking on an ice flow—a defining characteristic of the country’s frozen wilderness. The image of this mighty predator embodies the will, determination, and resilience of the NWT’s inhabitants.
3. National Film Board of Canada:
Embodying Canada’s commitment to its performing arts and cultural industry, the National Film Board’s logo features a little green man with uplifted arms forming an eye. Crafted in 1969, this stylized vision of humanity is aptly titled “seeing man.”
What initially began as an independent convenience store in Richmond Hill, Ontario, in 1961 has now blossomed into a nationwide convenience store giant. The company’s logo, initially featuring a cat, underwent a transformation on April 14, 1999, adopting the iconic owl emblem adorning all Mac’s stores today.
A household name in Eastern Canada, Harvey’s fast food chain logo showcased a simple yet appealing design—two hamburger buns in classic white and orange, with the Harvey’s name in the center. In 1999, the company embraced a more stylized version of the logo, recognizable to Canadians today.
6. Montreal Alouettes:
The CFL’s Montreal Alouettes logo from 1970 to 1974 exuded minimalism, with a design comprising circles and half circles, the solid green circle serving as the eyes. Surprisingly, the team’s seemingly unaggressive mascot, the Alouette, is derived from a Quebecois working-class song about plucking feathers from a lark.
7. Air Canada:
The emblem of Canada’s premier international airline, Air Canada, boasts a straightforward design. The 1994 logo, representing the company’s return to profitability, features a simple red and white tribute to the country that played a pivotal role in its rescue.
8. BC Lions:
The BC Lions football team proudly displays a snarling mountain lion logo, often misconstrued as a homage to the “Lions” twin peaks in BC’s Coastal Mountains, visible from Vancouver. In truth, the logo’s symbolism is more straightforward. The mountain lion, one of British Columbia’s most formidable land predators, fittingly embodies the spirit of strength and power befitting a contact sport.
9. Canada Dry:
Canada Dry Ginger Ale holds the title of Canada’s most renowned soda, known as a “soft drink” to Canadians. Its origins date back to 1904 when Canada Dry Pale Ginger Ale earned the distinction of being appointed to the Viceregal Household of the Governor General of Canada. Over time, the original beaver on top of a map of Canada was replaced with the crown and shield we recognize today.
10. Calgary Flames:
Although many hockey enthusiasts born in the last four decades assume the Calgary Flames have always been a Canadian franchise, they originated in Atlanta, Georgia, known as the Atlanta Flames, prior to 1980. Upon relocating to Calgary, the team retained the “Flames” part of its old name and introduced the iconic flaming “C” logo.
11. Beaver Lumber:
While Beaver Lumber as an independent company no longer exists, it once stood as Canada’s fourth-largest building supply chain store for nearly a century. The logo’s story is simple yet befitting—the founders, the Banbury brothers, sought a name evoking wood and lumber, with brother Edwin proposing the beaver, a perfect match for the brand.
12. Canadian Tire:
The Canadian Tire logo, introduced from 1958 onwards, may surprise you with its straightforward origin. The founder sought a recognizable symbol to grace the front of an oil can, and the red triangle perfectly met the requirement, becoming an enduring emblem of the iconic Canadian brand.
13. Edmonton Oilers:
The Edmonton Oilers’ logo from 1972 is easily comprehensible, reflecting the team’s official colors of blue and orange. The design, featuring a bright orange drop of oil at the top of the jersey, holds significance due to Edmonton’s status as Canada’s oil capital and the gateway to Fort McMurray’s oilfields.
14. Hockey Night in Canada:
For many nostalgic Canadians, the logo used until 1998 evokes fond memories. Its simplicity with black, white, and grey colors artfully depicts recognizable shapes, representing the black puck, lighter-colored stick, and the ice—a tribute to the beloved tradition of “Hockey Night in Canada.”
15. Husky Energy:
Husky Energy, one of Canada’s oldest energy companies, experienced changes to its logo. From 1960 to 1979, the husky image was absent. However, following a takeover by NOVA Corporation (formerly Alberta Gas Trunk Line) in 1978, the iconic husky dog was reintroduced into the emblem.
16. Mohawk Oil:
As a chain of gas stations in Canada now wholly owned by Husky Energy, Mohawk Oil’s emblem pays homage to the Mohawk First Nations group. The design honors their traditional lands, encompassing areas both in Canada and the United States.
17. Scouts Canada:
Providing recreational and learning opportunities for young Canadians since 1914, Scouts Canada introduced its logo in 1976. It marks the official adoption of the name “Scouts Canada” by the organization, an integral part of the scouts’ long-standing legacy in the country.
18. The Royal Bank of Canada:
The Royal Bank of Canada, a venerable institution, had long used the lion and globe insignia. However, the modern version recognized today emerged in 2001. The new logo symbolized the bank’s transformation from a standard financial institution to a more sophisticated and comprehensive financial services provider.
19. Quebec Nordiques:
The Quebec Nordiques’ logo, featuring a simple red and blue igloo with a hockey stick design, holds a lesser-known meaning. The team’s name, “Nordiques,” originates from the French word “Nordique,” meaning “northerner,” aptly representing the northernmost NHL team of that time in Quebec City.