by Auguste Vachon

Saint-Laurent Herald
Associate Member of the Académie internationale d'héraldique

The unicorn in Canada? What a curious subject! Are not unicorns more properly associated with China, India and Africa where they were first sighted or with a credulous medieval Europe which played host to fairies, goblins and dragons? On looking closer at this question, we find that Canada's unicorn heritage is surprisingly rich and deserves to be brought to scholar's attention. This is best achieved as an historical outline within which Canadian manifestations naturally find their place.

The antediluvian unicorn described in the Talmud and in Medieval Arabian accounts was enormous. On its horn, which it paraded among the clouds, it could skewer several elephants, a catch it sometimes lost to the fabulous roc bird bent on feeding its young. Too large for Noah's arch, it was towed behind tied by the horn, an awkward arrangement which caused its drowning. The discovery of large dinosaur bones in the 16th century reinforced the notion that all unicorns had drowned during the great flood.(1)

Fig. 1  The Centrosaurus of America
Fig. 1 The Centrosaurus of America

Such disproportionate creatures do remind us of dinosaurs and indeed there were one horned dinosaurs (suborder Ceratopsia) found mostly in North America: the Centrosaurus (fig. 1) the Monoclonius and the Styracosaurus, all well represented among the fossils of Canada's Dinosaur Provincial Park in southeast Alberta. These creatures, which looked like the rhinoceros and shared it's impulsive brutality, belonged to the Upper Cretaceous Period and represented the ultimate in dinosaur evolution before their extinction sixty-five million years ago.(2) But this is all a little fanciful. Knowledge of such ancient creatures could hardly have been imbedded in man's memory even if we believe, as some do, that the distant past is somehow recorded in our chromosomes.(3) More than sixty-three million years separate the last dinosaurs from prehistoric man.

Still, early fossil discoveries greatly helped fuel the idea that large fabulous creatures such as dragons and unicorns once roamed the earth. As the unicorn's horn became widely sought for its magic and curative powers, particularly as an antidote against poison, traders turned to fossilized remains and even to mineral formations such as stalagmites and stalactites to satisfy the market.(4)

Every year in Canada, as in other parts of the world, there are reported sightings, particularly in bodies of water, of large monstrous creatures which many believe to be surviving dinosaurs. An article entitled "There could be dinosaurs" originally published in the Saturday Evening Post (1948) describes huge one horned monsters sighted by hunters in the jungle of Africa.(5)

The striking uniformity of legends in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas puzzled the great unicorn scholar, Odell Shepard. He concludes to a common point of origin in the distant past: "if it were not for the fear of being taken quite seriously, one would like to toy with the notion that the original home of the unicorn was the Lost Atlantis".(6)

The unicorn described in the 3rd century B.C. by Claudius Aelian, is like the rhinoceros, powerful, aggressive and swift while that depicted by Gaius Julius Solinus is a composite, cruel and indomitable monster. However, in the works of the physician Ctesias (4th century B.C.), we already find the Medieval unicorn in the making. It is found in India and takes the form of a large wild ass with a white body, a dark red head and a horn on the forehead.(7)

Still, the idea of a brutish unicorn persisted for many years. Isidore of Seville (c. 560-636 A.D.), an encyclopaedist whose influence continued into the Middle Ages, proclaims that the unicorn, though not a rhinoceros, is capable of overthrowing an elephant.(8)

Seven references in the Old Testament depict the unicorn as powerful, ferocious, wild and insuperable, thus perpetuating an old myth to this day.(9)

While early accounts claimed to be based on observation, the idea of a more refined unicorn derived from the unscientific methodology of the Physiologus: a collection of some fifty allegories written by an anonymous Greek naturalist, probably working in the 2nd century A. D. The Physiologus was translated into a number of languages from the 4th century and became the model for many of the bestiaries of the Middle Ages. Its methodology entailed conferring Christian virtues upon animals. Thus, the unicorn was remodelled into a smaller animal, more like a goat, but always wild and invincible except in one circumstance. Having scented a young maiden in the forest, it would speed to her, place its head in her lap, and being fondled would fall asleep. Hunters would then capture and lead this rare trophy to the king.

From this typology evolved two extremes. In a mystic vein, the horn became the upright branch of the Christian cross, the Holy Ghost's instrument of fecundation and the symbol of divine incarnation. In Arabian accounts, on the other hand, the unicorn is pictured as a depraved creature falling asleep, drunk with virginal milk, and being captured by hunters.(10)

In the wake of the Physiologus, the Medieval unicorn becomes small, white, proud and ferocious, fast as lightning, elegant and magic. It possesses the body of a small horse, the legs of an antelope, the beard of a goat, the tail of a lion and a long spirally horn like the tusk of a narwhal. It is the very type of unicorn exemplified in the noted tapestries, La Dame à la Licorne, of the Cluny Museum in Paris.

It appears that the unicorn entered the realm of heraldry in the 15th century only. This late adoption seems imputable to the unicorn's sacred status in medieval times.(11) Having become more refined, it was then clothed in attributes of Christ, the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary. Being a solitary creature, it was made the model of monastic life. Proud and feared by enemies, it embodied (notwithstanding its affiliation with the horse) the moral values of chivalry, including courtly love. Its link with the Holy Ghost made it a symbol of mysticism and spiritual values. Contrasting sharply with the brutish creature of earlier pagan times, the unicorn had evolved into a sort of god-beast (a recurring phenomenon in many ancient religions) on which were conferred all the virtues: the very opposite of a scapegoat. The unicorn's sacredness was nurtured by its remote abstract nature. During the same period, the more prosaic ox was anathematized by the Church as a pagan symbol although it had warmed the Infant Christ with its breath and was a kingpin of the agricultural economy of the times.(12)

Some rather pragmatic explanations of the unicorn phenomenon are based on perspective: the two long close-set horns of the oryx seen as one in profile, bulls represented sideways with one horn in sculptures of Egypt and Mesopotamia.(13)

In nature, there are only two animals which possess one horn, the rhinoceros and the narwhal. The latter's tusk can measure some nine feet and is truly the horn of the unicorn as represented since Medieval times. Having its home in arctic seas, including Canada's northern waters, the narwhal was chosen as sinister supporter of the arms of the Heraldry Society of Canada in 1972.

As we have seen, during Medieval times and for centuries afterwards, the unicorn's horn was in great demand as an antidote against poisons, a danger which then faced anyone in power. The horn used by French Kings was entrusted to the monks of Saint-Denis and the custom of making the utensils, cups and bowls of the King from narwhal's tusk apparently continued till the French Revolution. Some rich seigneurs would even mortgage or sell part of their estate to buy the precious commodity.(14) The horn's powers as an antidote were based on legend: "...the wild Beasts of the Wilderness use not to drink of the Pools, for fear of venomous Serpents there breeding, before the Unicorn hath stirred it with his Horn."(15)

The marketing of all kinds of horns and tusks as antidotes led to counterfeit trade. André Thevet, a French traveller, reports that artisans on an island in the Red Sea were busy (c. 1550) straightening walrus tusks for export East and West as true unicorn horns.(16) The English geographer, Richard Hakluyt informs us that a physician friend from Bristol had showed him the half a yard long tusk of a walrus caught near the Îles de la Madeleine in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The physician claimed "he had made tryall of it in ministering medecine to his patients, and had found it as soveraigne against poyson as any Unicornes horne."(17) In 1577, the explorer Martin Frobisher picked up a narwhal horn on an island in Frobisher's Strait (Northern Canada) and having presented it to Queen Elizabeth I, it was placed in her wardrobe and became widely known as the " Horn of Windsor". A German traveller is said to have valued it at a 100,000£.(18) This was judged exaggerated, but there is little doubt that the trade in horns was not unlike the drug trade of today. Frobisher's own 1576 voyage, which included three ships and thirty-five men, had cost some 1,600£.(19)

Fig. 2  A sea unicorn on a 1593 map of North America by Cornelis
de Jode.
Fig. 2 A sea unicorn on a 1593 map of North America by Cornelis de Jode.
The true unicorn horn being a product of the sea, it is little wonder that a sea unicorn was also imagined. Such a creature illustrates a 1593 map of North America by Cornelis de Jode. It has the body of a horse with webbed feet, a fish tail and a narwhal's horn (fig. 2). It is really the mythical sea horse with a horn.

During the reign of James I (1424-1437), the unicorn replaced the dragon as a supporter of the arms of Scotland and, by 1503, James IV had adopted two unicorn supporters. When James VI of Scotland also became James I of England a century latter, he introduced the unicorn as a supporter of the arms of England. From these two noble sources, the unicorn came to Canada, first as the dexter supporter of the arms of Nova-Scotia, c. 1625, and in 1637 within the second and third quarters of the arms of Newfoundland. In 1921, it was chosen as sinister supporter of the arms of Canada and, in 1992, the governor general, as head of the Canadian Heraldic Authority, granted a unicorn as dexter supporter in augmentation to the arms of Manitoba, recognizing the importance of Scottish settlement in the province.

Fig.3 New Arms of Canada by Cathy Bursey-Sabourin

Fig.3 New Arms of Canada, by Cathy Bursey-Sabourin, Fraser Herald,
based on the suggestion, by Bruce Hicks of Ottawa,
that the motto of the Order of Canada be included around the shield.

Two recurring questions regarding the arms of Canada (fig. 3) are "Why is the unicorn chained and why is it holding the banner of royal France?". It did come to Canada already chained from the arms of Scotland and subsequently those of England. However, why it is chained in the first place is more difficult to explain.

Chaining animals in heraldry is a common practice and many of the chained animals such as bulls, deers, lions, griffins, and unicorns are strong or swift and often ferocious. One can hardly speak of enslavement since the chain's end is generally not tied down. If fetters were originally intended, the animal obviously got away bringing along both collar and chain. Moreover, these chained animals retain a haughty independent appearance almost as if they had voluntarily chosen to serve the armiger. Their chain seems to convey a notion of discipline, but without diminishment. One is reminded of the motto "Libre et ordonné", chosen by the late Right Honorable Roland Michener, former governor general of Canada.

A major work on symbolism states that the chain does not necessarily signify enslavement: "In a socio-psychological context, the chain symbolizes the need to adapt to life within society and one's capacity of integration within a group".(20) It has been suggested that when the chained unicorn appears as supporters of the royal arms of Scotland, England or Canada, the most plausible explanation is the unicorn serving the sovereign:

"One Scottish armorist, recalling that the unicorn would rather die than be brought to subjection, thought that the creature was intended to declare Scotland's sovereign independence, but he offered no explanation of its collar and chain. These would seem to denote that the beast had been tamed and its haughty spirit bent to serve the Scottish King."(21)

It could be said that the unicorn is holding the banner of France because it had no choice in the matter. The committee which designed the arms of Canada wanting to represent the founding nations, it was normal for the lion, an emblem of England, to hold the Union Flag, leaving the unicorn with the banner of royal France. The idea of including banners had come from the royal arms of France in which two angel supporters each hold the banner of France. The committee had wanted to match the lion of England with one of these angels, but Edward Marion Chadwick, an heraldist from Toronto, had strongly objected to coupling an angel with a beast.(22) Some have viewed the combination of fleurs-de-lis with the unicorn as symbolic of the old alliance between Scotland and France. In Canada, however, there are many examples of cooperation between Canadians of French and of Scottish origin, particularly in the fur and lumber trade. The endeavours of Scottish explorers and French Canadian voyageurs, working for the North West and Hudson's Bay Companies, played a decisive role in securing for Canada the western territories from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Ocean.

Because it holds the ancient banner of France and is gorged with a coronet heightened with fleurs-de-lis in the arms of Canada, the unicorn has sometimes been viewed as a symbol of French Canadians, the chain then symbolizing the subjugation of the Francophone minority to the Anglophone majority.(23)

Fig.4 Seal of Jacques Raudot

Fig. 4 Seal of Jacques Raudot, Intendant of New France.
Courtesy of the National Archives of Canada

Though this interpretation is obviously erroneous, the unicorn does have a Canadian French heritage. Jean de Douhet, Sieur de Larivière dit de L'Étang, who was killed by the Mohawks in 1687 bore in the 2nd and 3rd quarters a unicorn rampant.(24) The arms of Jacques Raudot, intendant of New-France, which are beautifully preserved on a document of 1705, are supported by two unicorns (fig. 4).(25) Joseph Perthuis de La Salle (1714-82), a seigneur and official of New-France, bore a unicorn passant.(26)

After the Treaty of Paris of 1763 which ceded New France to England, we find a chevron between three unicorn heads and another as crest in the arms of Sir Edmund Walker Head, governor general of British North America.(27) A noted member of the Heraldry Society of Canada, John P. B. Brooke-Little, Clarenceux King of Arms, also bears three unicorn heads and a demi unicorn as crest.(28) We also find three unicorn heads and another as crest in the arms of the Parish von Senftenberg, an old family from Austria with a number of descendants in Ontario.(29) In 1996, the village of Elora, Ontario, was granted as supporters, by the Chief Herald of Canada: two unicorns Azure, armed, unguled and crined Or, both differenced with the badge of the village as a pendant.

Fig. 5 Map of Pierre Desceliers, 1550.

Fig. 5 Map of Pierre Desceliers, 1550. Simplified version.

Though the heraldic unicorn heritage of Canada is rich, this mythical animal is first connected with North America on a map published c. 1542, usually attributed to Desceliers or John Rotz, and termed the Harleian map after its former owner Edward Harley, Earl of Oxford. On it are seen two unicorns in the vicinity of Canada's present frontiers, somewhere between Quebec, Montreal and the Bay of Penobscot in the State of Maine, a territory which was part of New France at that time.(30) A map by Pierre Desceliers, dated 1546, is illustrated with a unicorn sejant somewhere north of Cape Cod, today on American soil, but then part of New France.(31) A second map by Desceliers (fig. 5, simplified version) displays two unicorns, in the vicinity of Montreal, then called Hochelaga.(32) In John Ogilby's America (1671) we find a unicorn among animals of North America, such as the beaver, the moose and the American eagle. This same illustration reproduced in a Dutch work of 1673 is described as a scene north of New York "on the Canadian Border".(33)

Our first impression is that the unicorns on these maps are fanciful, but on closer examination, we discover that they have a specific significance.

In 1513, Balboa discovered the Pacific Ocean and in 1520-21 Magellan crossed that ocean discovering just how large it was. In the wake of these explorers, "...the Spaniards apparently propagated false longitudinal reports to bring their new Pacific discoveries on their side of Line of Demarcation" as established by Pope Alexander VI in 1493. This, for a while, gave new life to the idea that Asia and America were joined together somewhere in the northern regions.(34) Cartographers gave graphic expression to this idea by including on maps of Canada, northern parts of China which the Polo brothers had crossed during their great trek. In this vein, Desceliers includes, west of the St. Lawrence, the Desert of Lop (Gobi Desert), the Province of Tangut, the cities of Kamul (Hami) and Kanbalu. His 1550 map is illustrated with an Arabian looking warrior and a number of inhabitants in Asiatic garments somewhere between the Saguenay River in Canada and Tangut in China. The unicorn is at home on these maps linking North America with Asia since Marco Polo reported seeing these creatures in the wild on the borders of India. Polo was disappointed with the appearance of his unicorn since what he had seen was obviously a rhinoceros: "They are not of that description of animals which suffer themselves to be taken by virgins.."(35)

Written accounts also reflected the belief that North America was linked with Europe. Jean de Fonteneau, alias Jean Alphonse, a navigator who had visited Japan, expressed this very idea in 1452 as he guided Roberval's fleet up the St. Lawrence: "These lands are linked with Tartary and I think it is the tip of Asia based on the roundness of the earth." A bit further, he adds: "And the Savages say that there are here unicorns."(36)

There could have been a form of unicorn in Amerindian mythology since accounts of unicorns have also come from Mexico in 1539 and Florida in 1564.(37) It may well be, however, that when asked if there were unicorns as proof of the link to Asia, Amerindians replied affirmatively to please white explorers. They often replied thus when asked concerning diamonds, precious metals and a passage to India.

Another account of the presence of unicorns comes from Louis Nicolas a missionary in New France from 1664 to 1674. A great admirer of nature, Nicolas worked at classifying the flora and fauna of the New World and prepared, for publication, a large manuscript with illustrations.(38) His first draft entitled Traitté des animaux... contains a description of the unicorn with the following observation: "Few of them are killed by the Indians because they are rare, their young die easily being hypersensitive as to their diet." He is convinced of the existence of such creatures since so many travellers have reported seeing them.(39) In a more polished version of his manuscript entitled Histoire naturelle des Indes occidentales..., he quotes a description in Spanish from Lodovico de Varthema (Barthema or Vertomanus), a 16th century Italian traveller from Bologna. Varthema's unicorn, seen at Mecca, has the appearance of: "...a two and a half year old reddish-brown horse with a sharp horn some five feet long on its forehead, slender legs, cloven hooves, highly hirsute back feet (sic). It is proud but good natured, its horn is highly efficient against all sorts of poisons, and it thrives in Ethiopia". He also mentions Melchidésech Thévenot who has described the unicorn in his work Ambassade des Hollandois à la Chine (1666).

Nicolas further informs us that "his own representation of this animal (fig. 6), drawn with a pen, is a faithful depiction of the one he saw killed by the Indians and the one Varthema has described".(40) It is interesting that his illustration is captioned Licorne de la mer rouge (Unicorn of the Red Sea region) without reference to his Canadian sighting.

Fig. 6 Unicorn and tiger, c.1670
Fig. 6 Unicorn and tiger as copied from Gesner by Louis Nicolas, c.1670
Seemingly, Nicolas made up the entire story to qualify as one of the great travellers who had seen his own unicorn. Still, he was not reputed a liar and unicorns at that time did belong to the mysterious world of monsters which are regularly sighted, but never proven to exist. The best known examples today are probably the Loch Ness monster and the Yeti, but sightings of similar monsters are also frequent in North America. Possibly some unicorns were simply freaks of nature. At the beginning of the 19th century a South African farmer described an animal shot near his home as a creature striped yellow and black and having a "hard, bony substance covered with hair and ten feet long" protruding from its forehead.(41)

We know today that it is possible to create a form of artificial unicorn. Apparently some African cattlemen have long ago mastered the art of training the horns of their bulls so that they joined and twisted together as one making them excellent defenders of the herd.(42) In 1933, an American doctor created a similar creature by implanting side by side the horn buds of a calf which developed as one horn.(43)

In the abstract, the unicorn remains very much alive here in Canada as elsewhere. Works on the unicorn or dealing with unicorns are numerous. It is also present in literature(44), in children's and comic books, as statuettes, jewellery, souvenirs and trinkets of all kinds, on decals, calenders and wear, such as T-shirts, jeans, swimsuits and ties. Perhaps as a way of venting the Mr. Hyde side of their personality, humans are fascinated with monsters as witnessed by the continuing success of horror stories and movies.****

On 16th century maps and in the accounts of Amerindians, unicorns represented the belief that North America was united to Asia and that exploration would eventually lead to the wealth of the East. Perhaps the most important question raised by these early testimonies is whether the idea of the unicorn came to the Amerindians from the Europeans or whether it was present in their own folklore prior to white men's arrival in the New World. The author would be pleased to hear from anyone with views on the matter.


A French version of this article was published in Heraldry in Canada, vol. 16, no. 4 (Dec. 1992), pp. 10-21.


I am grateful for the help received from Edward Dahl, specialist in early cartography at the National Archives of Canada, and from Denis Robitaille, reference librarian at the National Library of Canada. Thanks are also due to Daniel Cogné, former Editor of Heraldry in Canada, for providing the illustration of the seal of Jacques Raudot. I am also indebted to my wife Paula for her help and encouragement.

1. References

1. Odell Shepard, The Lore of the Unicorn (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1930), pp. 45, 102, 157, 187.

2. 2. Dale A. Russell, An Odyssey in time: The Dinosaurs of North America (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1989), pp. 156-60.

3. 3. Robert Charroux, The mysterious past (New York: Berkley Publishing Corporation, 1975) pp. 217- 220.

4. 4. Shepard, op. cit., pp. 188-90.

5. 5. Ivan T. Sanderson, "Are there still Dinosaurs?" in Jacques Bergier and the Editors of INFO, Extraterrestrial Intervention: The Evidence, (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1974), pp. 105-121.

6. 6. Shepard, op. cit., pp. 99-100.

7. 7. Ibid., pp. 27, 36, 38.

8. 8. Ibid., pp. 51-52.

9. 9. Ibid., pp. 41-42. See Numbers xxxiii.22, Deuteronomy xxxiii.17, Psalm xxii.21, xxix.6, xcii.10, Isaiah xxxiv.7 and Job xxxix.9-12.

10. 10. Ibid., pp. 46-50, 62-65; Rodney Dennys, The Heraldic Imagination, (London: Barrie & Jenkins, 1975), p. 99; Bertrand d'Astorg, Le mythe de la dame à la licorne, (Paris, Éditions du Seuil, 1963), pp. 88-90 and Encyclopædia universalis, (Paris: Encyclopædia universalis France, 1970), vol. 3, p.219.

11. 11. Stephen Friar, A New Dictionary of Heraldry (Sherborne [Dorset]: Alphabooks, 1987), p. 354.

12. 12. Shepard, op. cit., pp. 73, 80; Jean Chevalier et Alain Gheerbrant, Dictionnaire des symboles (Paris: Éditons Robert Laffont\Jupiter, 1988), pp. 568-70; Nancy Hathaway, The Unicorn, (Middlesex [England], New York, Markham [Ontario]: Penguin Books, 1982), p.17; Michel Pastoureau, Couleurs, images, symboles (Paris: Le Léopard d'Or: recent publication n.d.), p. 226-229.

13. 13. Shepard, op. cit., pp. 44, 219-21.

14. 14. Roland Villeneuve, Poisons et empoisonneurs célèbres (Paris: Éditions J'ai lu, 1968), p.57.

15. 15. John Guillim, A Display of Heraldry (London: R. & J. Bonwicke, R. Wilkin, J. Walthoe and Tho. Ward, 1724), pp. 162-63.

16. 16. Shepard, op. cit., pp. 115-16.

17. 17. "A Briefe Note of the Morsse and the use thereof" in H.P. Biggar, The Voyages of Jacques Cartier (Ottawa: F. A. Acland, 1924, p. 304.

18. 18. Shepard, op. cit., p. 113.


20. 20. Chevalier et Gheerbrant, op. cit., p. 200.

21. 21. The Queen's Beasts described by H. Standford London, Norfolk Herald Extraordinary (London: Newman Neame, c. 1953) p. 52.

22. 22. National Archives of Canada, Report of the Committee Oct. 14, 1919, RG 26 A1, vol. 210, file 1156, part 1, 1919, pp. 102-110; Letters from Chadwick to Thomas Mulvey, under-secretary of state for Canada, Dec. 6, 8, 9, 18, 24, 31, 1919 and Jan. 8, 1920, ibid., pp. 63-83. The banner of France did fly in Canada. See Auguste Vachon, "The Royal Mark in New France" in The archivist, vol. 17, no. 1 (Jan.-Feb. 1990), pp. 10-13.


24. 24. E.-Z. Massicotte and Régis Roy, Armorial du Canada français (Montréal: Librairie Beauchemin, 1918), vol. 2, p. 56.

25. 25. Daniel Cogné and Patricia Kennedy, Lasting Impressions; Seals in our History (Ottawa: National Archives of Canada, 1991), p. 27.

26. 26. Massicotte and Roy, op. cit., p. 116.

27. 27. Cogné and Kennedy, op. cit., pp. 28-29. The National Archives of Canada have the original die of Sir Edmund Walker Head's seal.

28. 28. Heraldry in Canada, vol. 10, no. 3 (sept.. 1976), pp. 27, 48.

29. 29. Hans D. Birk, Armorial Heritage in Canada of Continental European Families (Toronto: Armorial Heritage Foundation, 1984), p. 133, pl. XXII.

30. 30. The original is in the British Museum, (Add. Ms. 5413).

31. 31. The original is kept in the John Rylands University Library of Manchester.

32. 32. The original is in the British Museum. At that time New France was viewed as extending to Spanish Florida, the colonization of the Thirteen Colonies having begun in 1607. See Marcel Trudel, Atlas historique du Canada Français des origines à 1867, (Quebec: Les presses de l'Université Laval, 1961), p. 10 and John Goss, The Mapping of North America: Three centuries of map-making 1500-1860 (New Jersey: The Wellfleet Press, 1990), pp. 34-35. William Willis, Documentary History of the State of Maine (Portland: Bailey and Noyes, 1869): vol 1 was used to match older names with modern ones.

33. 33. Shepard, op. cit., pp. 94, 97-98, 287: footnote 38 and pl, X. The same illustration can be found in the map collection of the National Archives of Canada, C 118,521.

34. 34. Encyclopedia Canadiana, (Ottawa: The Canadiana Company Limited, 1957), vol. 2, pp. 256-261.

35. 35. Tangut and the Desert of Lop clearly appear in fig. 4. See also Richard J. Walsh ed., The Adventures of Marco Polo (New York: The John Day Company, 1948), pp. 37-40, 68, 149.

36. 36. The description of this journey taken from Fonteneau's Cosmographie is found in Biggar, op. cit., pp. 298-99. See also Dictionary of Canadian Biography, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1966), vol. 1, pp. 309-10

37. -

38. 38. For further information see Auguste Vachon, "Louis Nicolas and the Codex canadiensis" in The Archivist, vol. 12, no. 2 (Mar.-Apr. 1985), pp.1-2.

39. 39. Traitté des animaux à quatre pieds terrestres et amphibies, qui se trouvent dans les Indes occidantales, en Amérique septentrionale, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, manuscrit français 12223, ff. 37-40.

40. 40. Histoire naturelle : ou la fidelle recherche de tout ce qu'il ya de rare dans les Indes occidantalles..., Bibliothèque Nationale de France, manuscrit fançais 24235, ff. 85-87. The reader may find it strange that Nicolas' unicorn is represented in two parts. This anomaly is explained by the fact that he often copied his illustrations from existing works, in this case from Gesner. Since the original engraving was too large for the paper he used, it had to be halved. In those days engravers would freely copy from existing works.

41. 41. Jane Werner Watson and Sol Chaneles, The Golden Book of the Mysterious, (Racine [Wisconsin]: Western Publishing Company, 1976), p. 13.

42. 42. Shepard, op. cit., pp. 44, 226-233, 242, 248.

43. 43. Hathaway, op. cit., pp. 146-148.

44. 44. See for instance, Bertrand d'Astorg, op. cit.; Michael Green, De Historia et Veritate Unicornis (On the History and Truth of the Unicorn), (Philadelphia [Pennsylvania]: Runing Press, 1983).

(Reference: The Coat of Arms, Vol. XI, No.175, Autumn 1996)

HeraldicAmerica Études / Studies