By: Dave St. Onge and Peter Ruttan
In the 1970s, Canada’s criminal justice system underwent a massive reorganization. Perhaps the most profound change came with the merger of the Canadian Penitentiary Service and the National Parole Service (not the same organization as the current Parole Board of Canada). The goal of this new, combined agency was to enable more continuity in correctional planning. By the fall of 1977, the merger was complete and, for a short time, this new agency was known as the Canadian Corrections Service (CCS).
Donald R. Yeomans, Commissioner of Corrections at the time, recognized that this agency needed an entirely new identity in order to boost the morale of its staff.
The badge, used in Canada’s penitentiaries for more than a century, was a basic design, consisting of an eight-pointed star surmounted with a crown. At its centre was a maple leaf, a symbol of Canada. A ring encircled the leaf with the words “Penitentiaries Canada,” and “Penitenciers Canada” in the French version. By the 1970s, the badge was no longer made of stamped brass, but an anodized plastic.
Commissioner Yeomans felt that this important agency and its staff deserved better.
The 1970s Canadian Penitentiary Service plastic cap badge.
A new badge
In 1978, the Commissioner approached Government House (Rideau Hall) and asked if they would assist in designing a badge for the new Service. A design committee was assembled consisting of senior (CCS) administrators and consultants from Government House. Mr. Carl Lochnan, Director of Honours at Government House, became the lead consultant of what was informally known as the Service Identification Project.
This design committee felt strongly that the development of a new departmental identity should be a broadly consultative process, and staff across the country had opportunities to provide input. It was decided that the organization’s name in both official languages would be incorporated into a single badge.
By mid-1978, Mr. Lochnan had drawn seven proposed designs. The sketches included a ‘glory,’ which resembles “rays of light emanating symbolically from a star or the sun.” All but two of the designs included keys, due to the significant role keys play in correctional institutions. Six of them included a maple leaf.
One design featured a turret at the centre, which harkened back to the brass rank badges that penitentiary officers wore on their epaulettes beginning in the 1930s, and referenced the guard towers of the older institutions.
Also among the proposed designs was one with a mythical phoenix rising from the flames. A note written on the reverse explains that the phoenix symbolized, “rising from the past to a better or brighter future.”
In November 1978, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs were given an opportunity to view the seven designs.
Commissioner Yeomans later recollected that Senior Deputy Commissioner John Braithwaite had suggested the use of a torch to symbolize hope and guidance, and a key to express both incarceration and ultimate freedom.
An early version of the CSC badge with the key bits pointing down.
These elements were incorporated in the seventh image, which was chosen as the basic design.
New badge is selected
After much consultation and more alterations, the new badge was beginning to take shape.
Getting closer! The key now points upward, to balance with the flame of the torch and the Latin motto was added.
By the fall of 1978, they had settled on a final design. Mr. Lochnan reported showing it to managers at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) and received a favourable and enthusiastic reaction.
The new badge consisted of a six-pointed star and sunburst, an annulus (or ring) in green and edged in gold, surmounted by the crown, and bearing the words, Correctional Service - Service correctionnel. At the centre, a gold key and torch crossed with a stylized maple leaf superimposed over them. The lowest point of the star is overlaid with a green ribbon carrying the Latin motto Futura Reciprere, which means “to Grasp the Future.” The key represents the custodial function of the penitentiary service, while the torch symbolizes training, guidance, and the parole system.
On December 28, 1978, Commissioner Yeomans signed his approval of the badge design on a high-quality rendering painted by Carl Lochnan. The next step was to seek the approval of the Queen. In March of 1979, following consultation with the Solicitor General, Treasury Board Secretariat and the then Secretary of State for Canada, it was decided that the official name of the Service would be changed to The Correctional Service Canada - Le service correctionnel du Canada. The name was reflected in the badge design: Correctional Service Cnada.
On March 29, 1979, Solicitor General Jean-Jacques Blais submitted the design to the Governor General of Canada Edward Schreyer for his consideration, and asked him to bring it to the attention of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. On April 10, 1979, Queen Elizabeth viewed the design, signed her approval, and returned the document to Ottawa.
The framed original design rendering approved by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Commissioner Donald R. Yeomans on display at Canada’s Penitentiary Museum, Kingston.
The new badge is unveiled
On Wednesday, August 1, 1979, Solicitor General Allan Lawrence officially opened the new Kent Institution in Agassiz, B.C. At the event, he unveiled the new CSC badge. In his speech he said, “As an aid toward building an esprit de corps, and as a symbol of the new the Correctional Service of Canada, I am pleased and honoured to announce today, for the first time in the history of the Service, the authorization by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of its new insignia.”
“In acknowledging the efforts that are made every day, every hour, every minute by the members of the Correctional Service of Canada to protect the society they serve, and to provide hope and opportunities for the offenders with whom they work, it gives me great pleasure to unveil the new insignia of the Correctional Service of Canada.”
He then unveiled the insignia and presented the first uniform cap badge to Commissioner Yeomans.
Nearly 30 years later, in 2008, the Canadian Heraldic Authority (a branch of the Governor General of Canada) recommended that CSC go through the process of “Granting of Arms” to have the badge/coat of arms reaffirmed by Her Majesty. This was necessary as the crown, known as the crest, was at the top of the badge. Peter Ruttan, CSC’s Chief of Protocol, worked to get CSC’s arms (badge and ensign, or flag) registered formally. The process involved the colourful language of heraldry, hand painting the arms, hand calligraphy, and digital remastering of the arms in various electronic formats. Mr. Ruttan made a slight modification to the badge, reversing the shading on the bottom point of the star.
As Her Majesty had already signed t he badge design in 1979, she only needed to review the new artwork. On November 23, 2009, then Commissioner Don Head, Minister of Public Safety Peter Van Loan, and the Chief Herald of Canada Claire Boudreau unveiled the new heraldic artwork at the Canadian Aviation Museum in Ottawa, during a ceremony celebrating CSC’s 30th anniversary.
The artwork now hangs on either side of the Commissioner’s boardroom doors on the ninth floor at national headquarters in Ottawa. The badge and ensign can also be found on :
Forty-three years after the initial design was approved by the Queen, the badge is still visible on officers’ caps and uniforms—a symbol of pride in the corrections work they carry out.