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Ottawa, Ontario (Canada)

Last modified: 2007-05-19 by phil nelson
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[Ottowa flag]
image by Zachary Harden, 27 February 2007
Adopted: 24 January 2001

See also:

City Flag

From the Ottawa visual image page on the flag:


The stylized O design is the centrepiece of the new flag. The look is simple, but festive. When it is flying, the feeling of vibrant motion is very apparent.

The flag's design uses the blue and green colours chosen to represent the new city. The dynamic use of colour is a direct reflection of how the citizens feel about their city. The large blue is symbolic of the rivers and waterways that are a part of life in the Ottawa area. The large green areas speak to our quality of life and the abundance of green space in the region.

Flag Usage

All departments, Council, committees, boards and commissions may use the flag authorized by Council. Flags will also be available for use by the public.

The standard size for the flag is 183 cm wide by 91 cm tall. It may be reproduced at a smaller or larger size but the proportions of 1:2 must never be altered.

The coat of arms of Ottawa is described as follows:

On October 20, 1954, the Right Honourable Vincent Massey, C.H., Governor General of Canada, presented to Ottawa City Council the Arms of Ottawa, issued under grant of the Kings of Arms.

The Coat of Arms is a distinguished and official symbol with an elevated status that is set apart from the Wordmark and other marketing and communication tools. As a heraldic device, it is intended for ceremonial application only. Its use will be restricted to key applications and may include the following examples: Mayor's ceremonial stationery; Mayor's chain of office; selected proclamations; seals; certificates and invitations; selected souvenirs; and, executive gifts. The Coat of Arms is granted under the authority of the Governor General as the Head of the Canadian Heraldic Authority. Under no circumstances will it be altered without approval of Council. Should any organizations or groups wish to use the Coat of Arms, prior approval must be sought by making application to the Director of Client Services and Public Information or his/her designate. Approval must be provided by City Council.

The logotype, indeed the wordmark, of Ottawa, is described as follows

The foundation of the new look is the Ottawa Wordmark. It will be used frequently: on outdoor signs, vehicles, advertising and printed materials, uniforms and souvenirs, and will be the most commonly used visual element by the City of Ottawa.

The focal point of the logo is a stylized O formed by three streamers which come together, symbolizing unity and harmony and working together towards a common goal. It suggests energy and motion, reflecting the vibrancy of our city as well as its economic and business strengths - a city that's innovative and on the leading edge.

The shape of the streamers is reminiscent of a maple leaf and a hint of local architecture, while the colours blue and green - most frequently chosen by the public - remind us of the parks, green space and waterways that surround us.

The Wordmark will be the main identification tool used by the City of Ottawa. It will be the most commonly used visual element by the City of Ottawa and most visible to the community. Its main objectives are to: clearly identify the programs, services and facilities provided through municipal tax dollars, and present a unified image to the public. This includes and is not limited to the following: all stationery and forms; all publications; newspaper advertisements; facility and other asset signs; staff identification/uniforms; souvenirs; vehicles; and, electronic usages.

The section on the city policy on usage of the symbols states that the symbols of Ottawa were adopted by the City Council on 24 January 2001.
Ivan Sache, 26 February 2007

Ottawa - Carleton Regional Municipality

Flag of Ottawa-Carleton Regional Municipality
by Chris Pinette

Last month I was in Ottawa and I saw the flag (above). Does anyone know what it is? Is it the flag of the city of Ottawa? No one in Ottawa could tell me. It was flying next to the Canadian National Flag and the Provincial flag of Ontario.
Chris Pinette - 8 August 1996

This flag looked familiar so I browsed through the few copies I have of Flagscan. I found the flag, or rather one that looks very similar. The only difference is that the white Y based on the hoist is made up of wavy (not straight) lines, and that the maple leaf is set in the centre of the flag. I guess these things are not easy to see when flags are hoisted. The flag illustrated in Flagscan is the flag of the Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton. I suppose it is what Chris saw. The flag was adopted 26 June 1985 by the Regional Council and is a simpler version of the coat of arms. The white wavy section represents the rivers Ottawa and Rideau, while the maple leaf indicates the Canadian capital.
Jan Oskar Engene - 10 August 1996

A similar design, with straight white lines is not a flag, it's the logo of the Ottawa-Carleton region
Luc Baronian - 19 June 1997

The "logo" may be such, but I think it flies as a flag - and in more places than the Ottawa City flag. I cannot be 100% sure if the lines were straight or wavy now, but I would be surprised if I did not notice that - it so obviously represents the river!
Rob Raeside - 19 July 1997

Of course, since the region is larger than the city... 

I know what you mean, the city flag doesn't seem very popular.

You are not the first to make this remark. What I believe is that they first used the straight lines unofficially and made them wavy when it became official. (But this is just speculation). What is sure is that 2 sources (Flagscan and the very reliable Ottawa-Carleton web page) show the wavy line flag. According to Flagscan, it became official June 26, 1985. The arms of the region have this design displayed as a Y with the maple leaf in the center and a crown in the upper triangle. Over the shield a mural crown and under, the motto *Cum Progressu Euntes* (Moving with Progress).
Luc Baronian - 19 June 1997

I did also see this flag in a magnificent avenue of flags outside an office complex, along with the flags of 10 other "townships" I always see it at the train station and over a few (rare) buildings. presumably the other components of the Ottawa-Carleton region. Two of them (Rideau Township and Dulbourn) have their names on the flags, but the others were unidentifiable. Also in this avenue are the flags of the Ottawa-Carleton region, Ontario and Canada.
Rob Raeside - 19 July 1997

I came on a page about the flag of Ottawa-Carleton. I cite the text which is attached to this flag :

- The regional flag is a modified version of the armorial bearings of the regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton. It was created by David Baker, technician-draughtsman with the Department of transport of the MROC. (Municipalite-Regionale 'Ottawa-Carleton in French)

- The corrugated white sign in form of Y, as on the regional armorial bearings, represents the Rideau and Ottawa rivers, topographic elements which played a great part in the colonization and the economic development of the area.

- The red maple sheet symbolizes the area of the national capital and the People of Canada

- Approval with the Regional Council - on June 26, 1985

Pascal Gross - 11 March 1998

Former flags of Ottawa

1901-1987 flag
[Ottowa flag 1901-1987] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 8 April 2006

1987-2000 flag
[Ottowa flag 1987-2000] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 8 April 2006

Coat of Arms detail
[Ottowa flag] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 8 April 2006

The City of Ottawa flew a different flag, a tricolour of (from the hoist to the fly) royal purple, red and blue. Royal purple was put in because Queen Victoria made Ottawa the capital, while red and blue were the colours of the Liberal and Conservative parties at the time the flag was adopted, in 1901. In 1987 the whole Ottawa arms was put on the middle red panel.
Source: Jaques Cyr: "Flags in the Ottawa Valley", Flagscan, Vol. 8, No. 2, 1993, pp. 11-16
Jan Oskar Engene - 10 August 1996

The flag of Ottawa City was a vertical blue-red-purple, with the full arms in the center. Harrington describes it in Flagscan as symbolizing the conservatives, the liberals and the royalty, but I always thought there was a link to do with the identical colours used by the Canadian and British armies.
Luc Baronian - 19 June 1997

I did see a flag similar to the one Luc describes, but a purple-red-purple tricolour with a coat of arms on it. This combination is quite eye-catching! As I only ever seemed to see that flag outside fire stations, I took it to be the flag of the fire department. There were two men that I thought were two firemen (the flags were fluttering) supporting the shield. I have since found the coat-of-arms at and think that the two men are a lumberjack and a policeman(?). (They are a timber timmer and an officer of the Civil Service Rifle Regiment - LVB)

This is probably the flag that Luc is referring to as the city flag, although I wonder what happened to the blue.
Rob Raeside - 19 July 1997