Behind the scenes of the creation of Julie Payette's coat of arms


Claire Boudreau, Chief Herald of Canada, Canadian Heraldic Authority:

So from the moment we knew the name of the Governor General designate, the natural thing to do is to read, to research, to go on the web and to discover more, a lot more about the history of the incumbent. We will have this thirst to see interviews where she would have been, herself, explaining where she is coming from, her past, her family history, but also her ambition -- why did she want to become an astronaut in her case, and what's important to her. The element, that I found the web, was this badge, this patch that she had created herself for her first mission. It has a rocket on it, a small rocket, and inside the rocket is a star, a musical note, a crescent, a rose. And, on the top of the rocket there was a little blue cat. All of the elements have tons of meaning. So, I thought it was very interesting that already in her past that she had the occasion to see her self and design what's important to her.

In her case, what was clear to me is this desire or this acknowledgement of the capacity of the human race of humans to go further, to transcend all boundaries. That was the first thing for sure. Music. Music was another thing because it's very important in her life, and she loves classical music and music is a source of inspiration for her. And, when I was looking at photos of her, the way she looks at people, she has this frank and direct connection. The animal that came into my mind, because I'm looking for symbols of course, was the Canadian lynx. For me this animal is a feline, but it has a way to look at its environment, and it's discreet at the same time so I really liked it.

Once we had the preliminary art, which is approved in principle, there's a few steps to do. So, you have to do the layout first. You have to put it right, and you have to trace the design on it. You will use pencil crayons and tracing paper to do it. This line art will be inked. This is precision work for sure. You need to be trained to do it because you will do it by hand. The base coat will be done with the gold first. You have choice to use yellow, but this document has gold. So you will prepare that, and you will apply the gold, and you will burnish the gold first. And then after that, you will move along the design by adding colours, and you have many choices, you could do it by colour, but you will also try to lock some parts. And, then you will make sure, of course, that the shadows are in place and that the details are right. And your preliminary art will always be your guide. But, the final art is giving you so much more because it's a piece of art, and the preliminary (work) is done by markers. So, yes, there's a difference in between. But, the main importance is that it's made to last, so it will be of course kept preciously. It will be photographed, and it will be made digitally after, but we take the time to paint it by hand for ensuring the quality of the design.