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Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia (Canada)

Last modified: 2008-06-07 by phil nelson
Keywords: nova scotia | cape breton island | bald eagle | island | sea | eagle: bald | tartan | saltire |
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Common Flag
[Cape Breton Island] image by Rob Raeside, 16 April 2008

Official Flag
[Cape Breton Island "Eagle flag"] image by Antonio Martins

See also:

Cape Breton Island

Cape Breton Island is part of Nova Scotia, but retains a very strong sense of regional identity, with Scottish and French influences much more obvious in its culture than on mainland Nova Scotia. There has been an unofficial flag of Cape Breton Island for many years, and when I went to try to buy one on my last visit there, I discovered that it no longer exists, and that this new official flag is there.

The new flag is white with four coloured bars across the bottom in blue over green over yellow over grey. These bars are separated by a narrow black fimbriation. The green bar rises up in the fly to silhouette a hill. Toward the hoist is a stylized green bald-headed eagle in flight. The four bars represent the usual things - blue for sea; green for green hills; I forget what yellow is but it is something to do with the people; grey for the coal that is mined there. Ratio: 1:2.

The old flag used in Cape Breton Island was generally forest green (although one manufacturer insists she made in dark blue), with a yellow (or white) circle in the centre, carrying an outline map of Cape Breton Island coloured in Cape Breton Island tartan (green, yellow, black and white). I was hoping that I would get to post the first flag with tartan on it.
Rob Raeside, 3 October 1997

The white flag with the CBI-shaped eagle is almost never seen now, except on a few front licence plates on cars. It appears to have faded away, and the flag most widely seen on the island is now a Canadian pale, forest green and white, a couped forest green saltire overlain by a gold ring with a green map of Cape Breton Island in the centre on white. On the ring are written the words CAPE BRETON ISLAND and CANADA.
Rob Raeside, 16 April 2008

Cape Breton Island was known as Isle Royale under the French Regime.
Luc Baronian, 12 November 2005

Previous Flag

[Cape Breton Flag] image from Flagscan

from Flagscan [fsc]

In the 1940s a local flag emerged. lt was designed by a Mr. Maclean of Ankerman St., Sydney.. lts design suggests a saltire on a blue field with a circle the centre. However the arms of the saltire are broken at the outer ring of the circle. The design reflects the flags of Scotland and Nova Scotia. A map, in green, of Cape Breton fills the gold disc inside the circle. On the grey outer ring appear the words, at the top, Cape Breton Island, at the bottom the word Canada, each in upper case. Between the words and on each side are five small symbols, a fir tree (for the Micmaq Indians), a fleur-de-lis for the French settlers, a thistle for the Scottish, a rose for the English, and a shamrock for the Irish. Later immigrants are represented by the outer black ring. The blue field is the Atlantic Ocean, the arms of the saltire are gold and represent the four counties of Inverness, Richmond, Victoria, and Cape Breton. The green map indicates farming, mineral and lumber resources, and the beauty of the Island. The gold circle stands tor fishing and offshore resources. The inner black circle recalls the coal mines, the first major industry of Cape Breton Island. The grey circle represents the steel industry. The arms of the saltire are broken and the gap between these bars and the circle marks the crossing of settlers to the New World.

Falko Schmidt, 11 January 2002

I'm a native Cape Bretoner, and I'm familiar with the so-called, "previous flag," with the saltaire and image of the island, and all. The odd thing is though, that the versions of this flag that I've seen, are primarily vert and or. That is green and yellow. The field of this flag is green, not blue, nor is there any reference, in symbols of the peoples who are Cape Bretoners. The flag I've seen may be a simplified, more graphic version of this earlier flag.
Brian Gabriel, 16 April 2007

Today I saw a very similar flag, except that the saltire was green and the field was white (don't remember the details of the seal). The flag did look fairly old. It was hung in the front window of an Ottawa residence in Chinatown.
Luc Baronian, 12 November 2005


[variant of current flag] by Rob Raeside

Keep in mind that until the white flag with an eagle appeared in 1997, there was no official flag for the island. However the island has a strong sense of regional identity, and it is no surprise that different people devised flags to represent the island. They were made locally, and I think both were sold in gift shops and tourist bureaus. My sense is that the yellow saltire on blue was more commonly seen in the 1980's, but the tartan map flag in the 1990's. That may have coincided with the declaration of the official tartan of Cape Breton Island.
Rob Raeside, 19 February 2003

The Cape Breton tartan was developed in 1957 and has been in common use since then. The only significant event in the 1990s which may have some significance to the mentioned decade of the 1990s is that 8 communities in Cape Breton County were amalgamated into one community, namely the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. Those communities are Sydney, North Sydney, Sydney Mines, Glace Bay, New Waterford, Dominion, Louisbourg, and the County of Cape Breton. To mark this, a coat of arms, badge, and a flag were granted to the new municipality by the Chief Herald of Canada, Mr. Robert Watt. Perhaps this was what was meant by the proclamation of the tartan in the 1990s.
Barry Gabriel, 24 October 2007

The idea that this flag was produced to coincide with the the acknowledgment of the Cape Breton tartan I believe is wrong. The Cape Breton tartan, a regional tartan, perhaps the only one listed in official Scottish tartan lists, was produced quite some time ago, and is not of recent derivation.
Brian Gabriel, 16 April 2007