Development of the CSC Badge: A history of pride


Let's Talk: Sharing the stories and voices of CSC

By Dave St. Onge and Peter Ruttan

In the 1970s, Canada’s criminal justice system underwent a massive reorganization. Perhaps the most profound change came with the merger of the Canadian Penitentiary Service and the National Parole Service (not the same organization as the current Parole Board of Canada). The goal of this new, combined agency was to enable more continuity in correctional planning. By the fall of 1977, the merger was complete and, for a short time, this new agency was known as the Canadian Corrections Service (CCS).

Donald R. Yeomans, Commissioner of Corrections at the time, recognized that this agency needed an entirely new identity in order to boost the morale of its staff. 

The 1970s Canadian Penitentiary Service plastic cap badge.
The 1970s Canadian Penitentiary Service plastic cap badge.

The badge, used in Canada’s penitentiaries for more than a century, was a basic design, consisting of an eight-pointed star surmounted with a crown.  At its centre was a maple leaf, a symbol of Canada. A ring encircled the leaf with the words “Penitentiaries Canada,” and “Penitenciers Canada” in the French version. By the 1970s, the badge was no longer made of stamped brass, but an anodized plastic.

Commissioner Yeomans felt that this important agency and its staff deserved better. 

A new badge

In 1978, the Commissioner approached Government House (Rideau Hall) and asked if they would assist in designing a badge for the new Service. A design committee was assembled consisting of senior CCS administrators and consultants from Government House. Mr. Carl Lochnan, Director of Honours at Government House, became the lead consultant of what was informally known as the Service Identification Project.  

This design committee felt strongly that the development of a new departmental identity should be a broadly consultative process, and staff across the country had opportunities to provide input. It was decided that the organization’s name in both official languages would be incorporated into a single badge.

By mid-1978, Mr. Lochnan had drawn seven proposed designs. The sketches included a ‘glory,’ which resembles “rays of light emanating symbolically from a star or the sun.”  All but two of the designs included keys, due to the significant role keys play in correctional institutions. Six of them included a maple leaf. 


The first proposed badge design idea. Badge with a maple leaf in the centre, two keys below it and a crown on top. Text that reads Correctional Service Correrctionnel
Second proposed idea of the badge. Badge with maple leaf in the centre, a key and a torch below, with the crown sitting atop. Text that reads, Correctional Service Correctionnel
Third proposed idea of the badge. Badge with maple leaf in the centre, a key and a torch below, with the crown sitting atop. Text that reads, Correctional Service Correctionnel

Fourth proposed idea of the badge. Badge with maple leaf in the centre, a key and a torch below, with the crown sitting atop. Text that reads, Correctional Service Correctionnel
Fifth design of the badge. Badge with yellow castle turret in the middle, crown atop. Text that reads "Correctional Service Correctionnel"
Sixth proposed badge design. Phoenix in the middle of badge with a maple leaf, with crown atop. Text below that reads Correctional Services Correctionnel

One design featured a turret at the centre, which harkened back to the brass rank badges that penitentiary officers wore on their epaulettes beginning in the 1930s, and referenced the guard towers of the older institutions.

Also among the proposed designs was one with a mythical phoenix rising from the flames. A note written on the reverse explains that the phoenix symbolized, “rising from the past to a better or brighter future.”

In November 1978, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs were given an opportunity to view the seven designs.

Seventh proposed design of the badge. Badge with maple leaf, key and a torch.

Commissioner Yeomans later recollected that Senior Deputy Commissioner John Braithwaite had suggested the use of a torch to symbolize hope and guidance, and a key to express both incarceration and ultimate freedom.

These elements were incorporated in the seventh image, which was chosen as the basic design.

New badge is selected 

CSC badge with maple leaf in the middle, in front of a key and torch. Crown on top of badge, with text that reads Correctional Service Canada, Futura Recipere below.
Getting closer! The key now points upward, to balance with the flame of the torch and the Latin motto was added.

After much consultation and more alterations, the new badge was beginning to take shape. 

By the fall of 1978, they had settled on a final design. Mr. Lochnan reported showing it to managers at the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) and received a favourable and enthusiastic reaction.

The new badge consisted of a six-pointed star and sunburst, an annulus (or ring) in green and edged in gold, surmounted by the crown, and bearing the words, "Correctional Service/Service correctionnel" At the centre, a gold key and torch crossed with a stylized maple leaf superimposed over them. The lowest point of the star is overlaid with a green ribbon carrying the Latin motto Futara Recipere, which means “to Grasp the Future.” The key represents the custodial function of the penitentiary service, while the torch symbolizes training, guidance, and the parole system. 

On December 28, 1978, Commissioner Yeomans signed his approval of the badge design on a high-quality rendering painted by Carl Lochnan. The next step was to seek the approval of the Queen. In March of 1979, following consultation with the Solicitor General, Treasury Board Secretariat and the then Secretary of State for Canada, it was decided that the official name of the Service would be changed to The Correctional Service of Canada / Le Service correctionnel du Canada. This name was reflected in the badge design: Correctional Service Correctionnel • Canada. 

On March 29, 1979, Solicitor General Jean-Jacques Blais submitted the design to the Governor General of Canada Edward Schreyer for his consideration, and asked him to bring it to the attention of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. On April 10, 1979, Queen Elizabeth viewed the design, signed her approval, and returned the document to Ottawa.

The framed original design rendering approved by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
The framed original design hanging on display next to a CSC unfiform

The framed original design rendering approved by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Commissioner Donald R. Yeomans on display at Canada’s Penitentiary Museum, Kingston

The new badge is unveiled 

On Wednesday, August 1, 1979, Solicitor General Allan Lawrence officially opened the new Kent Institution in Agassiz, B.C.  At the event, he unveiled the new CSC badge. In his speech he said, “As an aid toward building an esprit de corps, and as a symbol of the new the Correctional Service of Canada, I am pleased and honoured to announce today, for the first time in the history of the Service, the authorization by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of its new insignia.”   

The finalized badge, on uniform.

“In acknowledging the efforts that are made every day, every hour, every minute by the members of the Correctional Service of Canada to protect the society they serve, and to provide hope and opportunities for the offenders with whom they work, it gives me great pleasure to unveil the new insignia of the Correctional Service of Canada.”

He then unveiled the insignia and presented the first uniform cap badge to Commissioner Yeomans.  

Nearly 30 years later, in 2008, the Canadian Heraldic Authority (a branch of the Governor General of Canada) recommended that CSC go through the process of “Granting of Arms” to have the badge/coat of arms reaffirmed by Her Majesty. This was necessary as the crown, known as the crest, was at the top of the badge. Peter Ruttan, CSC’s Chief of Protocol, worked to get CSC’s arms (badge and ensign, or flag) registered formally. The process involved the colourful language of heraldry, hand painting the arms, hand calligraphy, and digital remastering of the arms in various electronic formats. Mr. Ruttan made a slight modification to the badge, reversing the shading on the bottom point of the star.

As Her Majesty had already signed the badge design in 1979, she only needed to review the new artwork. On November 23, 2009, then Commissioner Don Head, Minister of Public Safety Peter Van Loan, and the Chief Herald of Canada Claire Boudreau unveiled the new heraldic artwork at the Canadian Aviation Museum in Ottawa, during a ceremony celebrating CSC’s 30th anniversary. 

The artwork now hangs on either side of the Commissioner’s boardroom doors on the ninth floor at national headquarters in Ottawa. The badge and ensign can also be found on the Governor General of Canada website: 

Forty-five years after the initial design was approved by the Queen, the badge is still visible on officers’ caps and uniforms—a symbol of pride in the corrections work they carry out.

Let's Talk

Let’s Talk is a publication of Correctional Service Canada (CSC). Let’s Talk shares stories new and old of the people and programs at CSC. These stories provide an engaging window into how CSC fulfills its mission of contributing to public safety and assisting in rehabilitation. Let’s Talk is your home for informative articles, podcasts, and videos about CSC.

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