Coat of Arms

UBC Coat of Arms

The University of British Columbia adopted its coat of arms in 1915. The armorial bearings were prepared under the direction of Charles H. Athill of the College of Arms (London, England) based on design ideas provided by UBC’s first president Frank F. Wesbrook. The official description of the coat of arms appears as follows:

Argent three Bars wavy Azure issuant from the base a demi Sun in splendour proper on a Chief of the second an open Book also proper edged strapped and buckled Or inscribed with the words “TUUM EST” as the same are in the margin hereof more plainly depicted to be bourne and used by the said University of British Columbia on Seals Shields or otherwise according to the Law of Arms…..

Historian Harry Logan suggested that President Wesbrook envisioned the university as a provincial resource which both served and belonged to the people of British Columbia, and that idea found symbolic expression in the university’s official coat of arms:

It consists of the Provincial Coat of Arms as a base upon which rests an open book, inscribed with the two Latin words, Tuum Est (It is Yours), a motto chosen by Wesbrook himself. By the many generations of students who have since passed through the University, the words have been variously interpreted as meaning: “The University is yours”; make what use of it you can; or alternatively, with a personal, ethical content, “It’s up to you.” To President Wesbrook the words, no doubt, meant all this, but also much more than this. They were addressed not only to future generations of undergraduates but also to their parents and to all the citizens of the Province. “The University is yours.” This is the basic idea on which the University was founded… (Harry Logan, Tuum Est, p. 53).

In the Spring of 2013, in collaboration with the Ceremonies Office, Communications and Marketing refined the coat of arms to restore it to its original splendor and to ensure consistent, quality rendering for a variety of formats. The design refinements have focused on accurate historical relevance and period vernaculars, including the use of letterforms appropriate to the period. Readability has been enhanced, and the vine pattern on the books has been changed to the shape of leaves found in flora that are indigenous to campus.

The University Ceremonies Office, in conjunction with Communications and Marketing, holds stewardship of the university’s legacy elements which include the Coat of Arms and the Motto. Any requests for permission to use the UBC Coat of Arms should be directed to comm.marketing@ubc.ca.