Dusty Phrases

Hi! Welcome to “Dusty Phrases.” You will find below an ancient phrase in one language or another, along with its English translation. You may also find the power to inspire your friends or provoke dread among your enemies.

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A mari usque ad mare


from sea to sea

This is the national motto of Canada. From wiki:

A mari usque ad mare (Latin: [aː ˈmariː ˈuːskᶣɛ ad ˈmarɛ]FrenchD’un océan à l’autreFrench pronunciation: [dœ̃nɔseˈã aˈloʊ̯tʁ]; English: From sea to sea) is the Canadian national motto. The phrase comes from the Latin Vulgate translation of Psalm 72:8 in the Bible:

Et dominabitur a mari usque ad mare, et a flumine usque ad terminos terrae
(King James Bible: “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth”).

The first recorded use of the phrase to represent Canada was by George Monro Grant, who was Sandford Fleming‘s secretary and a Presbyterian minister who used the phrase in his sermons. His great-grandson Michael Ignatieff suggests that Grant used the phrase in a nation-building effort during the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. The use of the word “dominion” in the verse reflected the common use of the name “Dominion of Canada” for the new country.

The motto was first officially used in 1906 on the head of the mace of the new Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan. This phrase was suggested for a national motto by Joseph Pope, then-Under Secretary of State, when the Canadian coat of arms was redesigned in 1921. Pope was a member of the four-person committee appointed by the federal government to redesign the coat of arms (the other members were Thomas Mulvey, A.G. Doughty and Major-General W.G. Gwatkin). No motto had been included in the original design. Major-General W.G. Gwatkin proposed “In memoriam in spem” (“In memory, in hope”) as a motto, but Pope’s proposal garnered more support. The draft design was approved by Order in Council on April 21, 1921, and by the Royal Proclamation of King George V on November 21, 1921.

As part of the Canadian coat of arms, the motto is used as a mark of authority by various government agencies and representatives. It is also present on all denominations of Canadian banknotes, and on the cover of Canadian passports. On its own, it appears on all federal government proclamations.