The Great Seal of Canada (French: Grand Sceau du Canada) is a governmental seal used for purposes of state in Canada, being set on letters patent, proclamations and commissions, both to representatives of the Queen and for the appointment of cabinet ministers, senators, and judges. Many other officials, such as officers in the Canadian Armed Forces, receive commissions affixed with the Privy Seal, not the great seal. It is not for sealing up a document as letters close.
The great seal's design is changed soon after the accession of a new sovereign and is considered by the Department of Canadian Heritage to be one of the official symbols of Canada.
Great Seal of Canada Wikipedia
The first Great Seal of Canada was carved in The United Kingdom and sent to Canada to replace a temporary seal which had been used since Confederation in 1867. On the great seal assigned to Canada in 1869, the arms of each of the original provinces—Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Québec, and Ontario—were shown separately, two on each side of the figure of Queen Victoria seated beneath a canopy.
In view of the intended tour of Canada by George VI in 1939 as king of Canada, the federal parliament passed an act to let the Great Seal of Canada be used for functions that were, at that time, normally carried out by the King in London using the Great Seal of the United Kingdom—such as the issuing of an instrument of ratification for an international treaty—but were to be performed by the King while in Canada. This event, symbolizing Canadian independence and continuing loyalty to the Crown, was described by the tour's official historian as establishing a new official procedure "which asserted and recognized Canada's equality of political status within the British Empire."
Dies (seal-making devices) for old seals are destroyed whenever a new monarch takes the throne. The current great seal was designed by artist Eric Aldwinckle and made at the Royal Canadian Mint when Queen Elizabeth II succeeded her father in 1952 and it went into use on 14 November 1955. The seal die is made of specially tempered steel, weighs 3.75 kilograms (8.27 pounds), and is 127 millimetres (5 inches) in diameter. The image depicts the Queen enthroned on the coronation chair and robed, holding the orb and sceptre, and the 1957 version of the Royal Arms of Canada in front. Around the perimeter is inscribed REINE DU CANADA—ELIZABETH II—QUEEN OF CANADA. Previous Great Seals of Canada were inscribed in Latin. While the governor general is the keeper of the Great Seal, the Queen's representative places it in the protection of the Registrar General of Canada. Each of the provinces has its own unique great seal for similar purposes, which is used by the lieutenant governor of the province and kept by the provincial attorney general.Images of the Great Seal of Canada
Like the Great Seal of the United Kingdom in respect of the Crown of that country, the Great Seal of Canada is the chief seal of the Crown of Canada, and is used to show the Canadian monarch's approval of important state documents. The sovereign acts on the advice of the government of the day. However, unlike Canada, use of the Privy Seal was abolished in the United Kingdom after the passing of the Great Seal Act 1884.
The Canadian Great Seal is used not only for administrative purposes, but also ceremonially, when it is put into the custody of a new governor general as part of the customary swearing-in and installation procedure. It is protected under the Security of Information Act, Section 5(2)(e) stating: "Every person who, without lawful authority or excuse, manufactures or sells, or has in his possession for sale, any die, seal or stamp referred to in subsection (1) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 14 years or by summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than 12 months or to a fine of not more than $2,000."