Monday, August 2, 2010

From Sea to Sea

He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth (Ps. 72.8).

In the tradition of Virginia, the Old Dominion State, and the Dominion of New England, upon confederation in 1867, our northern neighbor assumed the title of "Dominion of Canada." The phrase "Dominion" currently refers to "autonomous Communities within the British Empire," but there is a deeper, more special significance to Canada's historical appellation.

When the Fathers of Confederation were meeting in Charlottetown in 1864 to determine the new formal name of "United Canada," so the story goes, the delegates were considering whether Canada should be known as "the United Colony of Canada," "the United Provinces of Canada," "the Federated Provinces of Canada," "the Republic of Canada," "the Realm of Canada," "the Union of Canada," or perhaps "the Kingdom of Canada." Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley in his morning devotions read Psalm 72 and the phrase "dominion" in verse eight was impressed upon his mind. He proposed later that day at the conference that the nation about to be born should be known as the "Dominion of Canada," in recognition of its place as a dominion of the Lord, which would spread from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean and from the North Pole to the St. Lawrence River.

The Fathers concurred, and Canada adopted its new name officially on July 1, 1867. Until 1982, that date was observed annually as Dominion Day, but is now known as Canada Day. Canada's official motto, A Mari Usque Ad Mare ("From Sea to Sea"), also deriving from Ps. 72.8, was adopted in 1921, but there has been an effort to amend the motto in recent years. In 1982, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was adopted, the preamble to which reads: "Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:...". It is debatable what legal significance this preamble has, and to what extent these words reflect any real commitment to "kiss the Son" (Ps. 2.12). Yet, these legal and historical points are not to be forgotten. They point to a Christian heritage that Canada still acknowledges today, though less and less. Currently, a plaque hangs near the Confederation Chamber in Province House which reads: "In the hearts of the delegates who assembled in this room on September 1, 1864, was born the Dominion of Canada. Providence being their guide, they builded better than they knew." May that truly be so, and may the banner of Christ's Crown & Covenant be raised high in all God's dominions.


  1. As a Canadian, I very much enjoyed your post. Some of it I knew, but some I didn't. Thank you for that valuable information.

    "May that truly be so, and may the banner of Christ's Crown & Covenant be raised high in all God's dominions."

    That is my prayer as well. Thank you.

  2. Three texts of scripture are engraved into the stone of the Peace Tower of the Canadian Parliament buildings:

    -Psalm 72:1: Give the King thy judgments O God and thy righteousness unto the King’s son.
    -Psalm 72:8: He shall have dominion from sea to sea.
    -Prov 29:18: Where there is no vision, the people perish.

    So sad that Canada has drifted from this.

    Thanks for your post.

  3. Here's a little clip about the scripture verses inscribed in the Peace Tower:

  4. Thank you, Ginny and George, for your kind and encouraging comments. I appreciate those historical facts, George. May the Lord bless Canada, and all of his dominions, with a heart to seek and to serve Him who is the Governor of the Nations.

  5. And thank you, Andrew. May God be patient with both our nations.