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28th International Congress on Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences
Quebec City
– June 23-27, 2008. By: W. Neil Fraser with photos by Marie Fraser

My wife and I attended the Congress, which was of interest to Marie for the genealogical presentations and to me for the heraldry lectures.  Last held in 2006 at St. Andrews, Scotland, the Congress brings together both genealogists and heraldists from around the world.  The Quebec Congress had representatives from Canada (mainly Quebec), Mexico, the United States, United Kingdom (most from Scotland), Ireland, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, Croatia, Iran, Russia, Australia, and South Africa.

Quebec Program

The official opening ceremony on Monday, June 23rd included Her Excellency the Rt. Hon. Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada, who expressed her special interest in heraldry since being granted arms on her appointment, and her surprise when her husband recently petitioned Canadian Heraldic Authority for his own personal coat of arms, and had just received his Letters Patent (which had to be signed by his wife) just prior to the Quebec Congress.

The opening ceremony included a group of dancers from the Huron Tribe, a platoon of re-enactment soldiers representing New France, two pipers from The 78th Fraser Highlanders Quebec City Garrison and an actor in period costume portraying Samuel de Champlain, founder of Quebec City in 1608, who served as commentator for the ceremony.


We attended a party hosted by Mark Dennis and Alex and Hattie Findlater from Scotland who had rented a house in Quebec City for the duration of the Conference.  Here is a sampling of photos.

Hattie Findlater with Mrs. & Mr. Denis Racine, President, ICGHS 2008 Congress

Bruce Patterson, Canada; Claire Boudreau, Canada; Frederick Brownell, South Africa

Adrian Ailes, England; Charles Burnett, Scotland; Neil Fraser, Canada

Robb Watt, Canada; Bruce Durie, Scotland; James Floyd, Scotland

Bruce Patterson, Canada; D’Arcy & Kathleen Boulton, U.S.A.

Marie attended the genealogical presentation entitled “To Lie like a Genealogist” by John G. Crowley, from Georgia, U.S.A. who explored some of the stories handed down in his family, suggesting descent from British Royalty.  After doing considerable research on his own and having DNA tests done on the male members of his family, he discovered that one of his ancestors was illegitimate - so much for family traditions!

Another genealogical lecture Marie attended was “Des Écossais au Canada et jusqu’à Québec”, by Jeannine Ouellet, who referenced many famous Scots, including some Frasers.


The presentations on heraldry included:

Norway: Probably the World’s Most Exploring Nation Comparing to the Population. Has It Any Exploration Heraldry? - by Tom S. Vandholm, Norway.  An amusing paper about the immense role of Viking explorers, including those who had such an influence on the British Isles, especially Scotland.  He took delight in stating that, contrary to popular legend, Viking helmets DID NOT have horns.

Le dragon dans l’art héraldique, ou la quête de l’expression symbolique conjointe du <Mal> et du <Bien> - by Alireza Taheri, Iran.  (Missed that one)

Conquête et reconquête héraldique coloniale et postcoloniale en Afrique - by Rolf Sutter, Stuttgart, Germany.  The presentation was in German, with simultaneous translation into French, so I listened to it in German and, surprisingly, understood more than I expected, or might have understood in French.

The Use of Colours and Emblems by Minority Groups in Bi-national or Multinational States - by Bruce Patterson, Saint Laurent Herald and Registrar at Canadian Heraldic Authority.  Bruce explained the many ethnic, religious and Aboriginal symbols used by Heralds at CHA in devising an achievement of arms, personal, corporate, institutional or religious in nature as charges on the shield, helm, as a crest and, if granted, supporters and the compartment upon which the supporters stand.  The range included traditional symbols from European, English, Scottish and Canadian Aboriginal sources (a first for Canada) that allow Canadian heraldry to reflect the many ethnic origins in a multi-cultural country like Canada.

The Arms of Sir Francis Drake - by Dr. Charles Drake, Georgia, U.S.A.   Dr. Drake explained his extensive research into the origin of arms granted to Sir Francis Drake by Queen Elizabeth I of England (through the College of Arms) and subsequent controversy when he claimed identical arms already borne by another Drake family in England.

Heraldic Symbols on the Coats of Arms of the Military Aristocracy as Vehicles for Memories of Struggles against the Ottomans - by Matea Brstilo Resetar, Croatia.

The Quest of a New Identity – Exemplified by Two Croatian Armorials - by Peic Caldarovic Dubravka, Croatia.

Wladyslaw II Jagiello: Heraldry, Royal Power and the Union of Poland and Lithuania 1386-1434 - by George Lucki, Edmonton, Alberta.

Not being fluent in Croatian, and having a conflicting appointment, we missed the last three sessions of Tuesday June 24th.

Wednesday was devoted to a selection of guided tours of Quebec City and area and the opening of the Exhibit Hall for the Conference.  Here is a sampling of photos.

George Lucki, Canada; Ilona Jurkiewicz, President of Toronto Branch, RHSC; Peter Hogan, President of Laurentian Branch, RHSC

Neil Fraser, Canada; Charles Burnett, Scotland; Mark Dennis, Scotland

Mark Dennis explaining Tartan to Quebec genealogy officials

Tom. S. Vadholm, Norway; Marie Fraser, Canada; Frederick Brownell, South Africa

The Quest for Design Effectiveness: Lessons Learned from Emblems and Logos - by Cathy Bursey-Sabourin, Fraser Herald and Principal Artist CHA and by Dr. Claire Boudreau, Chief Herald of Canada, both from Ottawa, Ontario. Cathy gave a power point visual presentation of commercial logos, both good, and bad, often used as a substitute for a traditional coat of arms.  Some of the logos illustrated left much to be desired in conveying a clear message of what they were intended to mean, although the cost of design for a commercial logo far exceeds the cost of a well designed heraldic achievement.  Dr. Boudreau explained the process followed by CHA in design of a full heraldic achievement, including the appropriate blazon (legal description), painting of the final design and calligraphy for the actual Letters Patent (in both English and French) that is presented to the petitioner when completed. 

The Canadian Public Register: Evidence of a Systematic Evolution from Passive Repository to Proactive Register - by Darrel Kennedy, Assiniboine Herald at CHA.

Darrel explained the transition of the Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada from the era prior to establishment of the Canadian Heraldic Authority in 1988 when arms granted to a Canadian by the College of Arms in England, the Court of the Lord Lyon King of Arms in Scotland, the Chief Herald of Ireland and other recognized foreign heraldic authorities could be registered for use in Canada.  After 1988 arms granted to Canadian Citizens through Canadian Heraldic Authority have been recorded in the Public Register and the grant reported in the Canada Gazette to protect the copyright of the armiger. 

The Effect of the English ‘Conquests’ on the Armory and Heralds of Scotland - by Charles Burnett, Ross Herald of Arms, Court of the Lord Lyon in Scotland and President, The Heraldry Society of Scotland.  Charles explained the different history of heraldry between Scotland and England prior to the Union of Crowns in 1603; following the Union of Crowns when the College of Arms tried to exert its influence on Scotland under James I of England and VI of Scotland; following the Union of Parliaments in 1707 and how the influence of the College of Heralds has often conflicted with the Lord Lyon in Scotland.  The presentation was light-hearted as Charles used his Scots accent and dry sense of humour to advantage.  One example was when he showed the early Union Flag incorporating the blue and white Saltire of Scotland overlaid by the white flag with the Red Cross of St. George for England.  The Scots response was a Union Flag with the Scots Saltire overlaying the English Flag making it appear much different from the Union Flag of today.

L’augmentation aux armes des frères Kirke; commémoration héraldique d’une conquête - by Robert Pichette, New Brunswick, Dauphin Herald Extraordinary, Canadian Heraldic Authority.

Terra Incognita: The Influence of New World’s Symbols in Spanish 16th Century’s Heraldry - by Rodrigo Lopez Portillo Y Lancaster-Jones, Mexico.

L’Héraldique dans les peintures murales commémoratives des conquêtes de la couronne d’Aragón - by Leticia Darna, Spain.

We missed the last three morning lectures due to a prior luncheon appointment in Quebec City. (Shame on us)

The Motto Flourishes - by Alex Maxwell Findlater, Scotland, HSS Committee Member.  Alex explored the various mottoes in the arms of his Maxwell ancestors from the 16th to the 19th century due to conflicting claims to a motto by some Maxwells.

Heraldry and the Postage Stamps of Israel: Missed Opportunites? - by Beverly Bergman, England.

The Westford Knight: Heraldic Evidence of pre-Columbian Scottish Explorers in America - by David Appleton of Texas, U.S.A.  An exploration of the rock carvings of heraldic symbols found in New England suggesting that Scots had visited the area 100 years before Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ North America, and the authenticity of such evidence.

The Scottish Merchants: Three Centuries of Heraldic History - by Prof. James Floyd, Scotland, Editor of Tak Tent and The Double Tressure, newsletter and Journal of The Heraldry Society of Scotland.  Prof. Floyd explained the many symbols of the New World incorporated into the arms (often assumed rather than granted) of Scottish merchants trading in the West Indies and the American Colonies, primarily in the sugar and tobacco trade where many great fortunes were made and often used to build elaborate country homes in Scotland.

Armoiries et sceaux des nations étrangères à Bruges, du 13e au 16e siècle - by André Vandewalle, Bruges, Belgium.  An illustrated explanation of the influence of many countries represented in commerce in Belgium through incorporation of their national heraldry in buildings and attempts to preserve many of the foreign style buildings, not always successfully.

The Lyon in Empire: The impact of the British Empire on Scottish Heraldry, ca. 1600-1900 - by Mark D. Dennis, Chairman, The Heraldry Society of Scotland, Heraldic Artist, Solicitor and Immigration Court Judge in Edinburgh.  Born in San Francisco, U.S.A. to Canadian-born parents, Mark Dennis has been a resident of Scotland for many years.  Mark is a large man with a booming voice and his talk was laced with dry humour in explaining the often conflicting approaches to heraldry in England and Scotland, much to the amusement of the audience.

Signs of Cultural Continuity and Imperial Unity: The Adoption (and Rejection) of Affiliative Symbols in the Jurisdictional and Corporate Arms of North America, 1606-2002 - by Jonathan D’Arcy Boulton, Professor of Medieval Studies, Notre Dame University, South Bend, Indiana, U.S.A.  Prof. Boulton is a Canadian who now teaches in the U.S. and is a noted expert on heraldry and long-time member of the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada where he is a member of the Advisory Committee of the College of Fellows.  I know D’Arcy well and kidded him prior to his talk that, having read the title of his presentation, I didn’t need to actually hear it.  In fact, we did sit through the entire presentation which proved to be well-researched and more interesting than we expected, even if D’Arcy had to be asked to finish early, to keep things on schedule, as he does tend to elaborate, at times.

In the Queen’s Name – Heraldic Sovereignty in the Realms and Territories of HM Elizabeth II - by James Terzian, U.S.A.

Johann Moritz von Nassau-Siegen, donateur d’armoiries au Brésil - by Rolf Wilhelm Nagel, Duisburg, Germany.

Signs, Seals and Symbols of Colonial Power 1600-1960: A View from H.M. Government - by Adrian Ailes, England.

One Defends and the Other Conquers: The Uses of Native Symbolism in North American Heraldry - by Jonathan Good, Georgia, U.S.A.  Jonathan is a Canadian who is now a Professor of History at a university in Georgia, and edits Gonfannon, the newsletter of the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada.

Friday evening was devoted to the closing banquet, held at the Chateau Laurier Hotel, a considerable walk from the Quebec Hilton where we were staying and, along with a number of others wearing the kilt and formal Highland wear, quite an adventure to be walking the streets of Quebec City and terrifying the French Canadian population that the Scots might be returning to complete the job they started on the Plains of Abraham in September 1759. 

Each table was devoted to one of the Filles du Roi (Daughters of the King) who arrived from France as brides to help populate the Colony.  Our table was named for Anne Perrault.  Here is a sampling of photos from the reception and banquet.

Frederick Brownell, South Africa; Neil Fraser, Canada; Beverly Bergman, England

Bruce Patterson, Canada; Kathy Bursey-Sabourin, Canada; Adrian Ailes, England; Rolf Sutter, Germany

Donald & Betty Draper Campbell, U.S.A; Neil Fraser, Canada

Neil Fraser, Canada; Charles Burnett, Scotland

Mark Dennis, Scotland; Donald Draper Campbell, U.S.A.

Neil Fraser, Canada; Fergus Gillespie, Chief Herald of Ireland

Robb Watt, Chief Herald of Canada 1988-2007; Bruce Patterson, Saint Laurent Herald & Registrar CHA

Annemarie & Rolf Nagel, Germany; Ilona Jurkiewicz, Canada

Filles du Roi (Daughters of the King)

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean
Speech on the Occasion of the Opening of the XXVIIIth Congress of
Genealogical and Heraldry Sciences

Québec, Monday, June 23, 2008

It is with great pride that I welcome you to the magnificent city of Québec, a world heritage jewel, particularly at this time when we are celebrating its 400th anniversary.

From the heights of the Citadelle to the streets of Lower Town, our history is everywhere before our eyes and is revealed in the traces that time has left behind for our collective enrichment.

I believe that we would not be able to find a better location, nor a more auspicious occasion, to hold this 28th International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences. All of you who are passionate about history and appreciative of culture will find that there is much to see and discover here.

For me, opening this congress is a much more significant and consequential duty than simply performing the task required of me as honorary patron of an event of this calibre.

Genealogy and heraldry are auxiliary sciences of history, and I believe that they have a relevance and a remarkable necessity at the beginning of the third millennium.

When I was named to the post of governor general of Canada two and a half years ago, I had the occasion, not to mention the privilege, to reflect on the path of my life.

Haiti, the island of my birth, had an oppressive and brutal regime that my family and I had to flee before I was 10 years old. I then came to this land, where I have set down root and which has become for me a country of endless possibilities.

I have also looked back in time to retrace the paths of my ancestors, which were uprooted from Africa. They were transported like merchandise to this side of the Atlantic and were reduced to a state of slavery, an experience shared by some aboriginal people on their own land.

This reflection was an internal voyage, a journey that has allowed me to better understand the hope I embody for all those who, at some point, had to reclaim their freedom.

In my duty as head of the Canadian Heraldic Authority, I had to create, in a few weeks, my personal coat of arms, which I shall transmit to my daughter, Marie-Éden and to her descendants.

My arms reflect these pathways. They are a symbol of my profound convictions, of what I hope to accomplish over the course of my mandate, and of the heritage that I would like to leave to the country that has opened its arms and its heart to me.

“Breaking down the solitudes” is the motto I have chosen.

It provides a wonderful link to the theme of the congress—The meeting of two worlds: quest or conquest. I believe that Canada has become what it is today because it has never ceased to count on the infinite possibilities that can stem from the meeting of people coming from all over the world to participate in the ideal of a pluralist society where each person enjoys equal rights.

This year, my husband, Jean-Daniel Lafond, also created his coat of arms which I saw for the first time only two weeks ago.

For him, as for me, this has been a magical, deeply moving and unforgettable experience.

In a way far more profound than we had initially expected, we were following in the footsteps of others who had taken the journey before us.

His motto says a lot about him as a philosopher, a film-maker and a man profoundly engaged in joining me in this great adventure: “Humanity for one’s homeland”. This is another wonderful legacy for our daughter Marie-Éden; for Estelle and Élise, from his first marriage; and our two granddaughters, Éléonore and Justine. Nothing is more precious than passing on to our children our world-view on which they will be able to reflect.

Certainly, this has been an exercise that one cannot enter into lightly, and which requires total involvement. Because to choose the elements of an emblem–regardless of its type–some fundamental questions need to be asked.

Who are we?

How do we express in symbols our roots, our history, and our values?

How do we ensure that the proposed message is at the same time powerful, meaningful and æsthetically?

How do we express the essence of our family or of our society and the place we hold in it?

How, finally, do we succeed at this endeavour while respecting the rules of blazonry, because nothing in a coat of arms is left to chance, and because each colour and charge carries the message that we choose to give it.

My husband and I were able to count on the heralds of arms of Canada to aid us in this process.

They allowed us to discover their passion and their discipline.

They convinced us of the evocative power of coats of arms and of their importance to expand our understanding of ourselves and of the world and to assure continuity in this era of instant gratification.

Today, I would also like to salute their expertise, and to express my pride that a woman–and a very capable woman–Claire Boudreau, is in charge of the Canadian Heraldic Authority.

Genealogy was born of a desire to know who one is and from where one has come, in order to project oneself into the future.

It is a pastime, but it is also a science that for the last quarter century has undergone a rebirth in many countries.

My curiosity and my enthusiasm concerning my own history are likely quite similar to those of the descendants of the first settlers who came to Canada.

This enthusiasm is something also shared by members of the First Nations, the Métis and the Inuit communities, who are as committed as always to preserving their cultures, languages and the knowledge of their elders and their ancestors.

These are universal needs.

Now, the desire to know who one is can lead us to advanced genealogical research that requires training in new skills in order to read and interpret primary sources and old documents in the archives.

This highlights the importance of your role, of your knowledge, and, as I said, of your passion. You are renowned experts in your field, and the program of this congress bears witness to this. I encourage you to make the most of the occasion to discover the studies and specialities of your colleagues who have come here, to Québec, to share the results of their research.

This year, the Canadian Heraldic Authority is celebrating its 20th anniversary. In spite of the distance, and as much as possible, the Authority contributed with great pleasure to the monumental task which the organizers of the congress had undertaken.

In 1996, this same congress took place in Ottawa, and the heralds have told me of the considerable work and of the time required to organize such a meeting.

Allow me to congratulate the Fédération des Sociétés de généalogie du Québec and the Société de généalogie de Québec for their generosity, their enthusiasm and their professionalism.

Many volunteers from these organizations will be on duty all week. Their dedication deserves to be acknowledged and warmly applauded.

In closing, I would like to invite you this Saturday, June 28, in the afternoon, to an open house at the Citadelle, which is the second official residence of the governor general. Several exhibits on the 400 years of history of the city of Québec will be presented. I look forward to seeing you there.

May these five days in Québec be filled with happy meetings and fortunate discoveries. Have a great congress.

Coat of Arms of Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean Governor General of Canada

Symbolism of the Armorial Bearings of The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, 27th Governor General Of CanadaIn the centre of the coat of arms is a sand dollar, which is a special talisman for Michaëlle Jean. Sand dollars are marine creatures found on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Canada and Northern United States. The Royal Crown symbolizes the vice-regal function and service to all Canadians. Above the shield, the sea shell and broken chain allude to the famous sculpture Marron inconnu by Albert Mangonès, displayed in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, depicting an escaped slave blowing a sea shell to gather and call to arms his fellow sufferers around the whole island. For Michaëlle Jean this image evokes the victory of her ancestors over barbarism and, more broadly, the call to liberty. Beside the shield are two Simbis, water spirits from Haitian culture who comfort souls, purify troubled waters and intervene with wisdom and foresight. Moreover, the Simbis' words are enlightening and soothing. These two feminine figures symbolize the vital role played by women in advancing social justice. They are shown in front of a rock set with a palm tree, a symbol of peace in Haitian history, and a pine tree representing the natural riches of Canada. The motto Briser les solitudes, which means "Breaking down solitudes", is at the heart of the objectives Michaëlle Jean intends to follow. An annulus inscribed with the motto of the Order of Canada, DESIDERANTES MELIOREM PATRIAM (they desire a better country), encircles the shield, and the insignia of a Companion of the Order of Canada is suspended from the shield.

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