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Month: March 2023

A Safe Place for Ada

A Safe Place for Ada

Photo by Artem Labunsky on Unsplash

“The moon’s really bright tonight. The sun’s not even down yet. Imagine that. It’s like that time a couple of years ago in the field by your parents’ farm. Remember that,” Ada said, wrapping the blanket a little more tightly around Marley who shivered in the cooling summer evening air.

“Thanks. You seem immune to the cold,” Marley said.

“It’s not cold,” Ada said, laughing.

“But yeah, I think it’s getting close to full,” Marley said. “It’s so peaceful, isn’t it?”

“Yeah,” she said, barely a whisper. The reality of the situation suddenly weighed heavily on them, neither wanting to draw it into their circle of peace. So, for a few more moments, they remained quiet, the jibber-jabber sounds of the ducks punctuating the light evening hum.

“Well, thanks for letting me stay,” Ada said.

“Geez, it’s not a problem at all. My home is your home. And before you worry about it, Xavvie loves you being here. You’re like his little sister. I swear he’d do more for you than he’d do for me.” Marley rolled her eyes, pinching Ada’s side.

“I’m glad,” she said. “And thanks for getting me outta there. I really think he was gonna hit me or something.”

“I don’t think he could stand straight. He was completely pissed out of his mind, what I could see. But yeah, people who drink too much are often pretty dangerous. All I know is I’m glad I was there to get you outta there.”

“Yeah,” Ada said, again in hushed tones. They were quiet again, soundlessly absorbing the mood of the evening.

“Anyway, I’m gonna go inside and get something ready for supper.” She checked her watch. “Xavvie should be home soon. Are you gonna stay out here for while? I can give you a shout when supper’s ready.”

“Yeah. I’ll just sit out here for a while, thanks.” Ada smiled, her eyes distant, as Marley got up.

“Listen, it’ll all be okay. You can stay here as long as you need, it’s not a problem.”

“Thanks,” Ada said as she nervously played with the corner of the blanket.

Looking around, she was never sure. Although, she hoped if she were by herself, he might be more willing to appear. Everything was silent. Ada just sat quietly, her eyes on the ducks in the pond in front of her. They always seemed to be so consumed with eating or grooming. Periodically, they’d tip over, their pointed tails popping upwards towards the sky.

Her mind wandered to what had happened. Freddie had promised her it’d never happen again. He got dead drunk a couple of weeks ago and it was Xavvie who’d arrived just as he was really getting unpleasant. She’d been thankful he’d arrived and was able to kind of talk him down. Well, Xavvie and Freddie were old friends. Afterwards, Freddie had promised her it’d never happen again. Then … she spotted a movement at her side.

“Hey, how’re ya doing, kiddo?” Ada smiled.

“Not too bad. Really glad to see you. I didn’t know if you’d come or not.” He took off his cap and put it on his knee, sitting down he leaned against the back of the seat. He smiled at her.

“I just had to wait a bit is all. No worries.” He looked at her, his face suddenly more serious. “Well, like I told ya, that one is not to be trusted. I mean, that sort is always thinking of themselves. They don’t give any thought to anyone else.” He put his hand up for her to wait. “Before you say, sure, maybe he’s had a hard life. That sort normally have. But if so, he’d best get that figured out before he gets involved with anyone else.”

“Yeah, I know,” she looked down, ashamed. “I thought I’d give him another chance.”

“Well, hopefully you now know he’s not to be trusted. Geez, girl. You’ve gotta watch yourself. Too soft hearted, you.” He pointed at her, a smile on her face. “Not to worry.”

“Yeah, I’m here now and so, I’ll just go tomorrow when he’s at work to clear away my other things.”

“Ask Xavvie if he can go with you. I don’t think it’s a good idea to do that on your own.”

“No, I won’t. I’m sure Xavvie wouldn’t mind coming. I don’t think it’d take me very long.” He started to get up.

“Where ya going?”

“Hey, listen, your old man’s got things to do.” He laughed at her. “You’re not the only one who needs a checking up.”

Image by Peter H from Pixabay

“Yeah, well, thanks Dad.” He gave her a hug and then wandered off along the path. She watched him go, not a care in the world. It’d always been that way, even when he was alive. Her dad was always the kind of person who never let anything get under his skin. She smiled. Ada sat there, watching her dad far in the distance, she could see people around him. But she had a feeling they likely didn’t even know he was there and so, they just walked by.

She didn’t have a clue how he knew about her boyfriend, if she can even call him that anymore. But her dad had known something wasn’t right and told her. She was the one who didn’t listen.

“Ada,” she heard Marley calling. “Supper’s ready.” She got up and folded the blanket. Her dad was out of sight now. But she knew at some point, she’d see him again. Folks sometimes say they’ve got a guardian spirit. Ada smiled, thinking, and sometimes we do.

Ageing Into Nature

Ageing Into Nature

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

For some of us, the physical changes that accompany ageing are just a part of life met with a shrug of the shoulders. The tick-tock of the clock as the years slide by, a distant yet comforting beat of our lives. The growing laugh-lines or the salt and pepper, gradually growing more the former, are rarely noticed. They are simply one more of the expected changes that go along with life.

For some, however, this shift in time is like the grating of an oversized door opening to places they’d rather not go. Of course, some would cock their heads to the side wondering, what’s the problem? It’s only natural, isn’t it? Well, yes, it is. But maybe that’s it. It is only natural. Perhaps in the end, nature may just play a central role in the dilemma.

We have a troubled relationship with nature. Some insist we’re a part of it and some do not. Some assure us we control nature while others feel otherwise. Therefore, could it be the difficulties we encounter with growing older are tied in part to our distance from nature?

And so, is it possible that since some of us don’t feel tied to nature, we’re not about to follow its rules? Which is to say, many of us aren’t about to grow old “naturally.”

A Part of Nature or Maybe Not?

We definitely have a difficult relationship with nature. We live lives increasingly separated from nature. More and more of us reside in urban areas, distant from the groves, meadows and meandering streams and rivers with which nature graces the landscape.

It’s known that around 4.3 billion people across the world—that’s more than half of us—now reside in an urban area. More often than not, our lives are framed, day in and day out, by a world structured by steel and fiber-glass, buildings perched on even the smallest piece of land. So, the many facets and peculiarities of nature are certainly not a part of our day to day lives.

Potted plant on the ledge. Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Yet, many would insist they are indeed a part of nature. And yes, even for those living in the hearts of our largest cities, that potted plant perched on their kitchen ledge may be a signal of their union with nature.

Still, there are those who would insist they are not bound to nature. The question would never arise. And being so distant from nature, it’s finer nuances and subtleties elude them.

But those who feel disconnected from nature also consider it merely yet another facet of life, one needing to be controlled.

Controlling Nature

Some would point to the rise of Christianity in western society as the point where we diverged from nature. We then rigorously followed the words of the Old Testament. Thus, every Sunday, we were reminded how humans were made in God’s image, granting us dominion over all creatures, great and small.

We then took many things in hand. As a result, we’ve had a significant impact on the environment. One of the most pronounced effects on nature is our role in speeding habitat loss. Our actions often simply destroy a habitat.

When a new housing project is started, trees are removed wholesale. Most likely, countless animals previously lived in those trees or used it for obtaining their food. It doesn’t matter, as we’re in control and reign supreme. We also fragment a habitat. So, the area once used by a creature is no longer valuable in its entirety since a development was placed in the middle.

Another action indicative of our control is linked to our emission of air and water pollutants. Chemical pollutants bioaccumulate, increasing in concentration within the animal’s tissues and then they’re transported throughout the food web.

A goose exploring a bag or garbage. Image by G J Whitby from Pixabay

Plastics can be yet another form of pollutant. Floating in the currents through our watersheds, plastics are often ingested by wildlife, mistaken for food. Sadly, animals eventually die since their stomach is full of material it can neither digest nor break down. Otherwise, the plastic is caught on the animals appendages, thus incapacitating them and leading to their death.

Through these impacts, we play a controlling role in nature. It would seem we possess a relationship with nature that places us at the steering wheel.

Fear of Ageing

In this light, we can turn our attention towards ageing, a process governed largely by nature. Though we may try, ageing is something over which we ultimately have no control.

Initially, we can recognise some truly have a true fear of growing older. Known as gerascophobia, it can affect people of all ages. As an age-related anxiety order, it may involve changing behaviours to impede growth. It’s a serious condition.

People also develop a fear of ageing for some genuine concerns. Some fear the loss of their cognitive ability while others out and out fear death.

Image by Sabine van Erp from Pixabay

As people age, it’s not surprising the fear of death may strengthen. It may be simply because we have loved ones we’ll be leaving. Maybe there’s a loved one for whom the elder is still caring. So, a fear of death is understandable.

But overall, ageing is a component of nature, something many of us seek, with more or less success, to control.

Departure From Youth

All things being equal, as we naturally change with age up to, say, 30, we’re okay. But that’s usually when we begin to show signs of age. We are departing from the world of youth. This also has a significant role to play in our dance with age.

Our difficulty with our increased distance from youth is staunchly connected to our western society. It is a world that worships youth, with many, at all costs, desperate to hold onto the charms of youth.

Fountain of Youth, Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472–1553) (Source: Wikipedia).

For millennia, we’ve been steadfast in our search for the fountain of youth. In past centuries, the search for youth has had its place in the manifesti of the most stalwart explorers. In modern times, the story is much the same.

Anti-ageing is a billion-dollar industry. We are presented with non-stop images of youth and vivacity as the pinnacle of life. Youth is the eternal goal, with its rich and voluminous brunette, black, red, and blonde hair, not a grey hair in sight. Don’t forget all those lithe and firm figures.

So, once we reach 29, with 30 looming, for many of us, we’re keen to apply the brakes. That’s when things get a little more tricky.

Tightening the Reigns on Age

This cavalcade of beliefs and ideals thrusting towards us with monumental power forces us to unthinkingly accept these truths regarding the virtues of youth. To be young and to remain so, is the fundamental goal. Given the strength of these pursuits, it’d seem we have but a faint hope of accepting the varied intricacies of nature—to just let it be.

So, like many components of nature we organise, arrange, and manage throughout our lives, many seek to do so with ageing. Like clockwork, once we’ve reached adulthood, ageing takes on a new meaning for some.

According to the wider society, every additional wrinkle or grey hair is met with a fount of lament. If at all possible, it’s quickly then extinguished. In North America, the anti-ageing industry was worth USD 17.44 billion dollars in 2022. And researchers pin it to be at USD 60,95 billion by the end of 2027. It’s astonishing, but it tells us just how many may not want to age “naturally” and let it happen.

Thinking back to our relationship with nature, is it possible that our response to ageing, a natural phenomena, is much the same as our approach to other aspects of nature—no worries, we can control it.

Is there a chance that because we won’t accept our place in nature, we’re resistant to growing old naturally. Nature is something we make an attempt to control and it’s done so to a great extent by virtue of the gargantuan anti-ageing industry.

However, though we try to wrest control of nature and bend the rules of age, we’re never able to do so. We continue to age.

Let It Be

Thus, despite our most strenuous efforts to control nature in this regard, we seem to ultimately fall short. Yes, we are constantly thwarted by our search for the fountain of youth and the boons it would achieve.

We spend an immense amount of time contesting with nature. From the dandelions with which we annually do battle, to those rivers incessantly overflowing to countless other situations. Likewise, we undertake personal battles with nature.

If we were able to push past the dense thicket of ideas foisted on us regarding the virtues of youth and accept the word of nature, what would happen? We would be ageing into nature and willingly accepting our role as a part of time.

We would accept the natural changes that accompany the progression of time. If we truly accepted our place in nature, there would be no need for cosmetic surgery to remove the wrinkles. Why? Because as we age, our skin naturally wrinkles. Similarly, there’d be no need to visit the hair salon in order for our grey hairs to be dyed blonde, brunette or red. Why? Again, because it’s the sort of thing that happens naturally.

Accepting Our Place in Nature

Personally, I’ve always found a quiet poetry and a certain kind of magic in the words “when I’m old and grey.” Although, if we continue to fight the marvels of nature, the anti-ageing industry at our lead, fewer and fewer of us will even be able to utter those words.

No question, ageing is accompanied by an increasing number of aches and pains. To be sure, it has its challenges. Yet, it has its benefits and maybe it’s time to place more attention on those rather than on our looks.

Enjoying a lovely walk with the dog. Image by Manfred Antranias Zimmer from Pixabay.

What also comes with those complaints against age is a degree of resoluteness and strength. Anyone who has made it to the age of eighty, when those complaints often arise, can safely know their experiences have equipped them with the ability to contend with whatever challenges they may face. Embodied in those words is a degree of time, knowledge and experience.

Fundamentally, these are the genuine gifts of nature.


iA customs document containing particulars of a ship, its cargo, and its destination

Sense of Place — Finding the Home in “Home”lessness

Sense of Place — Finding the Home in “Home”lessness

Eradicating homelessness is in our hands (Image by Mona Tootoonchinia from Pixabay).

Homelessness is a challenge for us regardless of where we live, whether in a bustling city or a peaceful village. Homelessness just looks different. In any case, it’s critical to find long-term shelter for those seized by the merciless grip of homelessness. Although, the idea is not only a lack of housing. In order to achieve a rewarding life, people must somehow develop a sense of place for the locations where they live. This paves the way towards transforming house into home.

But what exactly do we mean when we talk about sense of place. Generally speaking, a sense of place refers to the attitudes and feelings individuals and groups feel towards a place. In its simplest form, sense of place refers to a piece of space that has been made meaningful. That place may be where we work, recreate or indeed live—our home.

Yet, there are challenges. Homelessness is something readily visible in our cities. As soon as we extend our view into the rural areas, homelessness is far more difficult to identify.

Regardless, holding to the importance of sense of place, the idea is to not only re-house, but also re-place people as part housing services.


Homelessness in Canada is not something that’s a “here or there” phenomenon. It’s estimated that every year, more than 235,000 Canadians experience homelessness. According to the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (COH), homelessness is defined as “the situation of an individual or family without stable, permanent, appropriate housing, or the immediate prospect, means and ability of acquiring it.”

A sad reality in our cities (Image by paulaquiyahora from Pixabay).

In cities, it’s easier to identify homelessness. Iconic images of men or women asleep on public benches or over grates are sad reminders of the harsh challenges of the lack of housing people have been forced to face. A form of homelessness often witnessed in rural areas, known as hidden homelessness, is a little easier to overlook.

Taking a Closer Look at Hidden Homelessness

Homelessness in rural parts of the country is readily disguised behind the cherished elements of many small towns. This type of homelessness is often referred to as hidden homelessness. In these circumstances, people may be in interim housing, temporary housing, say in a hostel or rooming house, living with others such as a friend or relative, or in institutional care, for instance in a health institution or group home. All of these qualify as a form of homelessness.

In 2014, around 2.3 million people said, at some point in their lives, they’ve suffered from hidden homelessness. For the majority, it was something they experienced for at least a month to a little less than a year. Just under 20% experienced it for a year or more.

There are some who are more likely to experience hidden homelessness. According to Statistics Canada, this might include those who’ve suffered from childhood maltreatment, if one has a disability, or those who have a poor sense of belonging to their community.

As an example, in places around Placentia Bay, hidden homelessness is the primary form of homelessness encountered. I’m a member of the Community Connections Housing Coalition in Placentia. We focus on challenges to housing experienced by people living in an area encompassing much of the southwest Avalon and Whitbourne. Our Housing Support Worker is always busy with several ongoing cases. As soon as one is completed, there are others waiting. And the situation here is mirrored, I’m sure, in other parts of the world.

The goal is to find houses for people facing housing challenges. We all know the most important stage is ensuring people have some sort of shelter. These are the nuts and bolts of the issue. Still, there’s more.

Equally important is to not only ensure they have a roof over their head, but they’re also on a path where they can develop a sense of place. The key is to not only be re-housed, but re-placed.

Place of My Own

Most of us know a house is not the same as a home. The former is defined by bricks and mortar, flooring, wiring, heating, water and such. But a home is imbued with a sense of place—tried, true and close to the heart. So, the idea is to develop a sense of place tied to our home.

Locations may not always evoke positive feelings. Certainly, a sense of place may work to exclude others. For instance, in a home or place of work, one person may regard some quality as a binding force, an element of their sense of place. Although, for another, they consider that element to be a force of opposition. However, my focus here is more on sentiments an individual or group feels will positively tie them to place.

So, we’re after understanding a home as possessing a sense of place. A sense of place is not something one can order from a store and then simply await its arrival. Fortunately, it would appear that some of the things we need to help create a sense of place are really quite sensible and straightforward.

Creating a Sense of Place

In order to forge a sense of place, one of the first characteristics for which we can search is a feeling of confidence. Many people who rent are always wary of their rental fees rising or in some cases, of eviction. It would be a comfort if individuals could be confident this would not occur. Given that comfort, they would be able to explore the deeper and finer refinements of their homes in order to develop a sense of place.

Another element contributing to our sense of place would be the ready access to nutritious and enjoyable food. Being forced to wonder where one is going to find something to eat is an all consuming concern. Such a challenge will provide an incessant drag on any positive feelings individuals may be developing regarding their homes.

Words of live by (Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash).

Another stepping stone towards a sense of place requires an individual be able to harness and cultivate a positive mental health and well-being. So often, we may be able to obtain shelter, ideal in every way. Yet, again a person can be brought down by a nagging poor sense of self, one ebbing on depression. All of these components work together, a vicious circle of despondency, perhaps driving people further into depression. Again, if we become all consumed by our poor mental health, there is little chance to explore meanings that can invigorate and bring to life to a sense of place.

A social network begins with a friend (Photo by Jay-Pee Peña ?? on Unsplash).

Part of what can provide a lifeline in these situations is a social network. Oftentimes, simply chatting about the challenges we are facing is sufficient to place them at bay. Sometimes, this is long enough for us to devise methods by which we can extricate ourselves from the tricky situation in which we’ve found ourselves. Again this alleviates the challenges we are facing. In so doing, it permits time to delve into the ideas and sentiments tying us to our homes.

Another basic necessity that would be seemingly miles from a sense of place would be making sure something like sanitation is in good order. Sanitation? Well, we all know how we’d feel if our toilet were not working or our shower or bathtub cannot be used. We’d be miserable. It’d be a challenge for anything useful to blossom regarding the values, meanings and beliefs infusing a place. Frankly, you and I both know, we likely wouldn’t care.

Peaceful contentment (Image by Pexels from Pixabay).

Finally, I think nature has a role to play in helping to bring to the fore sentiments that can ripen into a sense of place. And when I use the term nature, it can mean anything from a secluded view of the sea, our only companions the gulls wheeling in the sky to our favourite potted plant on the window ledge in the kitchen.

So, we’re seeking an enriching relationship with the living creatures—plant, animal, or fungus—with whom we share this planet. This can help to forge the favourable bonds we cultivate with our homes or even areas near our homes. In so doing, a sense of place enters its early stages of creation.

Home Matters

When we engender a sense of place tied to our house—the roof over our heads—it has established a meaning for us. We’ve noticed it and thus, we now care and are attentive to how it alters and changes over time. We care what happens to the future well-being of this place, our home. It is now incorporated into how we define ourselves.

A sense of place is not something that is ready made upon entry to a house. It is something that must develop with time. Although, as noted above, there are certain attributes that can aid in the creation of a sense of place.

Thus, working towards finding houses for those who are homeless is only one stage in establishing a home. At heart is the critical need to pave the way towards establishing a sense of place. This will work to permit people to find a degree of comfort and contentment in the places where they live, places that will become, in time, their home.


Ali, Nadia 2018 “Understanding Hidden Homelessness” Homeless Hub

Gaetz, S.; Barr, C.; Friesen, A.; Harris, B.; Hill, C.; Kovacs-Burns, K.; Pauly, B.; Pearce, B.; Turner, A.; Marsolais, A. (2012) Canadian Definition

of Homelessness. Toronto: Canadian Observatory on Homelessness Press.

Habitat for Humanity 2018 “Hidden Homelessness across Canada”

Relph, Ted 2022 “Placeness, Place, Placelessness”

Rodrigue, Samantha 2016 “Hidden Homelessness in Canada” Statistics Canada

St. Luke’s Cultural Centre Coat of Arms

St. Luke’s Cultural Centre Coat of Arms

Image of British Coat of Arms of 1786 located

in St. Luke’s Cultural Centre (Source: Christopher Newhook).

“Honi soit qui mal y pense” are the words emblazoned on the coat of arms located in St. Luke’s Cultural Centre. The words are in Norman French and translated to English, they mean “shamed be whoever thinks ill of it.” Below the images on the coat of arms are the words “DIEU ET MON DROIT” meaning “God and my right.”

All of these words and images may appear meaningless

to modern eyes. Although, at the time, their intention was crystal clear. Like many afterwards, the Coat of Arms reflected the intentions of a growing empire to demonstrate and pursue power and glory. Before discussing these words and images and exploring their meaning, a bit of background is in order.

Brief History of St. Luke’s Cultural Centre

Photograph of St. Luke’s Cultural Centre (Source: Lee Everts).

St. Luke’s Cultural Centre was formerly St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Placentia, Newfoundland & Labrador. Established in the sixteenth century as a place of Roman Catholic worship, through the tussles between the British and French, it became Protestent in 1713. It was in 1786 when Prince William Henry visited Placentia on a tour of British lands. From 1830 to 1837, he would reign in Britain as King William IV. While in Placentia, he presented the church1 with several gifts. One was a silver communion service and the other was in fact this coat of arms.

Coat of Arms

The idea for a coat of arms originated with the military, a distinct snd decisive expression of strength and power. Beginning in the twelfth century, knights would seek to ally themselves with various nobles. It began in northern Europe and, over time, it’s spread throughout the world. Every modern day country possess a coat of arms, as well as an array of national emblems appearing on items such as their flags.

Originally it was the knights who sought to ally themselves with some power. They would do so using some form of imagery and text worn on their surcoat, the tunic worn over the armour. In some circumstances, it could be displayed on their shield or rest atop their helmet.

The imagery was intended to convey the power wielded by the owner of the coat of arms. Below the imagery would be some sort of motto. This was serious business. The coat of arms were used during actual warfare, as well as in tournaments, a glamorous representation of warfare.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police Coat of Arms Wikipedia).

Nowadays, we do much the same, for instance, the coat of arms of the RCMP displays their intention to “Maintiens le Droit” or “Maintain the Right.” It shows a bison, owing to a segment of the RCMP2 originating in Northwest Canada.

Although, the use of a coat of arms has shifted from strictly warfare or military. Various guilds, churches, schools, universities or other organisations also possess their own coat of arms. However, in all of these institutions, much like our monarchies of old, a clear statement of authority and strength is still being made through the use of the coat of arms.

Coat of Arms in St. Luke’s Cultural Centre

The coat of arms given to St. Luke’s was that of Great Britain. The imagery has changed over time, a reflection of the changing powers in the monarchy. The coat of arms was given during the reign on Queen Anne. She took the crown following the union of the Kingdoms of Scotland and England on 1 May, 1707.

Coat of Arms of Britain as given by Prince William Henry in 1786 to St. Luke’s in Placentia (Source: Christopher Newhook).

The Coat of Arms is divided into quarters, the first in the upper left, the second in the upper right, the third quarter in the lower left and finally, the fourth quarter in the lower right.

As to be expected, the images chosen are obvious displays of power. For Queen Anne, she elected to have the image representing the Arms of England and Scotland sharing the first and fourth quarter. That of England consisted of three lions over top one another.

The choice of a lion to signify England is unsurprising. The lion is a symbol for qualities such as courage, pride, and strength. These are all attributes to which any country would aspire. Coincidentally, the lion now functions as the national animal in England. Originally, there were only two lions on the British Coat of Arms. However, a third was added by King Richard I, often referred to as Richard the Lionheart.

The Arms of Scotland was a rampant Scottish unicorn. It was used simply because the eminent unicorn, considered untamable, is not only Scotland’s national animal. It is also considered to be undefeatable, a noteworthy quality given its placement alongside Britain’s lion.

The Arms of France were reflected in the third quarter, consisting of three fleur-de-lis, a symbol believed to have begun with King Louis VII. The Arms of Ireland, placed on the third quarter, are represented by a harp. The harp has been the national emblem for Ireland since apparently 1185. It was at this time when then King John toured Ireland. Touring for about a year, he expressed appreciation for the role of music in the culture of Ireland.3

Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense

Surrounding the Arms of the various countries is the motto “Honi soit qui mal y pense,” meaning, as noted earlier, “shamed be whoever thinks ill of it.” The words were chosen by King Edward III using Norman French, the language used since William the Conqueror of Normandy, France had taken control of England in 1066. It was also the language used at the time by the ruling classes in Britain.

These words were also tied to the Most Noble Order of the Garter. The Order was established by King Edward III in 1348 and dedicated to the image and arms of St. George. The Garter, the symbol of the Order has always been worn on the left leg below the knee and is emblazoned with the motto.

Badge of the Order of the Garter: The attributed arms of Saint George circumscribed by the Garter (Source: Sodacan – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikipedia)

About the Garter

There are several different explanations for the motto. A somewhat fanciful one holds that King Edward III was dancing with Joan of Kent, his first cousin and daughter-in-law. As the story goes, her garter slipped down around her ankle, causiing no end of mirth by those who witnessed the happening.

King Edward III, apparently, to salvage her honour, placed the garter around his own leg, stating the following words “Honi soit qui mal y pense.” It makes sense, be it a little too perfect. Another explanation states that King Edward III, in preparation for the Battle of Crécy during the Hundred Years’ War, gave “forth his own garter as the signal.”

A further possibility holds that the motto is actually tied more to King Edward III’s claim to the French throne. And the Order of the Garter was created in order to pursue this claim. The Garter, a representation of the straps used to tighten armour, was used to signify the “band” or “bond” held by the knightly supporters for the claim to the French throne.

This explanation seems the most sensible, albeit somewhat embroidered. Still, given the age old tension between the English and French thrones, this explanation appears most worthy of the words appearing on the Coat of Arms.

In this sense, the coat of arms is essentially a statement of the power, maintaining that Britain seeks to make its claim for the French throne and shame on anyone who thinks ill of it. It’s possible. But the jury is still out.

For what it’s worth, “Honi soit qui mal y pense” is widely used. Although, in each case, the same sentiment of pride guides their use. Essentially, there is an action that has been taken and shame on anyone for thinking ill of it.

Dieu et Mon Droit”

Meaning “God and my right,” it makes sense, as the King or Queen is the “titular head” of the Church of England. Thus, the Coat of Arms is merely officially stating the position of the monarchy as the conduit of the people with their God.

Gifting a Coat of Arms

A Coat of Arms is a national symbol, perhaps the preeminent one. And so, to gift such an item to Newfoundland, which was not a formal colony, is noteworthy. Placentia may not have been a colony. Although it was regarded quite highly by Britain.

Placentia’s importance was waning in Newfoundland throughout the 18th century, increasingly, the focus was being placed on St. John’s. Nevertheless, Placentia had been chosen by Britain as the military centre at the end of the War of the Spanish Success on 1713. So, that status likely carried some weight.

Canterbury Cathedral houses the cathedra or episcopal chair of the Archbishop of Canterbury and is the cathedral of the Diocese of Canterbury and the mother church of the Church of England as well as a focus for the Anglican Communion (Source: Rafa Esteve – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia)

In terms of gifting the coat of arms, Britain and its monarchy sat at the head of the Church of England. Hence, it was in their best interests to assert their supremacy in the gift of a Coat of Arms. Moreover, gifting a coat of arms would also be seen by the people as a sign of trust and belonging.

Britain was still a growing power at the time. Thus, it was vital for the governing power to assure their people of their importance. After all, it is the people who are the true strength of any country.

Final Thoughts

When walking into St. Luke’s Cultural Centre, the coat of arms sits discreetly on the wall facing the door. Some will remark on it while it will go unnoticed for others. Regardless, it signifies the place Placentia held as one of the dominions of Britain. And ultimately, it stands as reminder of the vast strength and power Britain held during the eighteenth century.


1There have been two churches built on the site preceding the current one.

2One of the armed forces that developed into the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was the North-West Mounted Police. Charged with enforcing justice in the Canadian Northwest Territories (initially this included Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Northwest Territory and part of Nunavut).

3This was not long after the Normans had invaded Ireland.