University Traditions and Symbols

Symbols of Simon Fraser University

The original Coat of Arms was granted to the University in 1965 by the Lord Lyon, King of Arms, in Edinburgh. The 1965 arms were registered in Canada in 2007 and are now attached to the Office of the Chancellor.

In 2007, the Canadian Heraldic Authority granted a modification of the Coat of Arms at the request of the University. The arms are based on the arms of Fraser of Lovat, from whom the University’s namesake was descended via the Frasers of Culbokie. The blue quarters with white “fraises” i.e., strawberry flowers (a pun on the name Fraser) are the basic Fraser arms, while the white quarters with red crowns are those of Lovat. There are three books at the top of the shield, representing education. The heraldic description of the arms is:

“Quarterly; first and fourth Azure three fraises Argent; second and third Argent three antique crowns Gules, all within a bordure quarterly Argent and Gules, on a chief Gules three open books proper, bound and edged Or.”

The University’s motto Nous sommes prêts, meaning “We are ready”, is a variation of the traditional motto of the Clan Fraser.

The mace was commissioned by University architects Erickson and Massey, and was presented to the University at the opening ceremonies on September 9, 1965. The mace is 61 inches long and weighs 23 pounds. Pieces of cut and polished jade, which were taken from the University’s jade boulder in the Academic Quadrangle reflecting pool, were set in silver by its designer, Haida artist Bill Reid. The mace is crowned by a silver stag’s head, derived from the coat-of-arms of Lord Lovat, head of the Clan Fraser. The Fraser tradition was to fasten sprigs of yew in their bonnets before entering battle, and the mace was carved from two hundred-year-old yew, gathered on Burnaby Mountain by a resident in the 1940s.

Lord Lovat presented the University with a claymore, or great sword, on September 9, 1965. The claymore was first used by a Fraser at the Battle of Culloden Moor in 1746. It was also used by a Fraser at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759. The claymore is approximately 36 inches long and weighs two pounds.

The University’s flag is based on the coat of arms, and was first flown at the Convocation ceremonies in June 1981.