His Majesty the King is the Sovereign of the Order, and the governor general is the chancellor and Principal Companion of the Order.
Appointments are made for sustained achievement at three levels: Companion, Officer and Member. Officers and Members may be elevated within the Order in recognition of further achievement, based on continued exceptional or extraordinary service to Canada. Usually, promotions are considered five years after the first appointment.
Recognizes outstanding achievement and merit of the highest degree, especially in service to Canada or to humanity at large.
Recognizes achievement and merit of a high degree, especially service to Canada or to humanity at large.
Recognizes distinguished service in or to a particular community, group or field of activity.
The insignia of the Order is a stylized snowflake of six points, with a red annulus at its centre which bears a stylized maple leaf circumscribed with the motto of the Order: DESIDERANTES MELIOREM PATRIAM–Latin for “They desire a better country”. The annulus is surmounted by the Royal Crown. The insignia is struck in fine silver and is composed of three individual pieces: the snowflake, annulus and maple leaf. The colour is added by hand through a unique application of opaque and translucent resin-based enamel.
Created in 1967, the now-familiar snowflake design was a collaboration between many different people; however, the final form is attributed to Bruce Beatty, C.M. His design inspiration came from the falling snowflakes of a winter afternoon in Ottawa and was then articulated using references to Ukichiro Nakaya’s Snow Crystals: Natural and Artificial catalogue, found in the Library of Parliament.
In the years since, the striking six-point white insignia has come to symbolize our northern heritage and our diversity, because no two snowflakes are alike. All insignias are proudly crafted by hand at the Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa.