By Rita Button
You may have noticed a flag flying over Bastion Square and wondered about its origin. It’s actually the unofficial flag of Vancouver Island.
Benjamin Wyon, Chief Engraver of Her Majesty’s Seals, designed the flag which was approved by Queen Victoria in 1865. At that time, the Vancouver Island settlement was “its own British colony with full rights to create its own flag,” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Vancouver_Island). Ships were required to fly “ensigns with the badge of their colony on the fly” to distinguish their vessels from Royal Navy ships and other British Government vessels.” The flag wasn’t actually created until Vancouver Island joined British Columbia, the settlements on the Mainland, thus becoming part of a bigger group, no longer requiring its own flag.
“Michael Halleran, a Victoria resident, … created an historically accurate version of the full flag” https://www.victoriabuzz.com/2019/06/heres-the-history-behind-the-rare-flag-of-Vancouver-Island/ which is available for purchase at Jeune Bros. on Johnson Street. It is believed that the flag was never actually created until 1988—and that’s because Michael Halleran took the time to do something about it!
The symbols represent the qualities nineteenth century England appreciated about Vancouver Island: the caduceus— winged two snaked staff represents commerce, the pine cone symbolizes the forests and the beaver connects Vancouver Island to the Hudson Bay fur trade.
You can see the flag at Bastion Square. As well, some businesses such as Adams Storage, fly the flag with pride, because they are very pleased to be part of Vancouver Island. https://globalnews.ca/news/1944345/150-years-later-flag-flies-high-for-colony-of-vancouver-island/
Just in case you were wondering, now you know!