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Interpreting the G-G's coat of arms Add to ...

A flurry of long-tongued unicorns, flying feet and neatly ordered lines: They're all there in the spirited coat of arms designed by the Canadian Heraldic Authority for new Governor-General David Johnston. The Globe and Mail decodes the symbols:

1. UNICORNS "Being fantastical beasts, the unicorns represent dreams, vision, and imagination," states the heavy explainer on the Governor-General's website. The unicorns' sizable, unfurled tongues may be a nod to Mr. Johnston's "interest in communication networks." The beasts are also bearded and ripped - perhaps a tip of the hat to Mr. Johnston's days as captain of the hockey team at Harvard.

2. SHIELD In case you didn't notice: the black stripes emblazoned on the shield "are set at evenly spaced intervals and cross each other in a particular pattern, the design alludes to the importance that Mr. Johnston places on the ideas of order and organization." No word on whether his place settings are measured with a ruler at dinner time.

3. BOOKS (EITHER SIDE OF CROWN, ABOVE SHIELD) The open books on either side of the crown refer to "reading and writing and the written transmission of knowledge" and also symbolize the law. Mr. Johnston studied and taught constitutional law - bookish.

4. MOTTO The motto DESIDERANTES MELIOREM PATRIAM encircles the shield. It translates to: "They desire a better country." The unicorns, meanwhile, desire a trim. The lawn beneath them desires a weeding.

5. BOOKS (AT TOP) More books sit atop the crest, next to a sloppy candle. They represent the "acquisition of knowledge from many sources." There are five of them, an homage to Mr. Johnston's five daughters. Thanks, dad.

6. FEET (JUST BELOW THE SHIELD) Two severed feet prance on the lawn - no, they're not from British Columbia. They're winged just like those of Hermes to "evoke physical activity, fitness and sports, in addition to being a symbol of communication."

7. BINARY CODE (AT BOTTOM) At the base of the entire vision is a wavy band inscribed with zeros and ones. These represent "a flow of information, digital communication and modern media." Bits and bytes!

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