For the Scottish at Heart

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A little levity for the New Year (and not at all relevant to environmental law): regulated symbols of our province.

While you may be aware that the Province of Ontario has a provincial tree (the Eastern White Pine designated under the Arboreal Emblem Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. A.25), a provincial bird (the common loon (Gavia immer) designated under the Avian Emblem Act, 1994, S.O. 1994, c. 15), a provincial flower (the white trillium (trillium grandiflorum) designated under the Floral Emblem Act, R.S.O. 1990, F.21), and a provincial mineral (amethyst under the Mineral Emblem Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. M.13) but are you familiar with the provincial tartan?

The Tartan Act, 2000, S.O. 2000, c. 8 adopts as the tartan of Ontario a four block repeating pattern tartan that is described down to the thread count and the colour of each strand of thread in the statute.  The first block is identified as the mixed green block and consists of 129 threads of varying specified colours.  The second block is called the forest green block and also consists of 129 threads of varying specified colours.  The third black is called the mid blue block and consists of 82 threads of varying specified colours.  The fourth block is called the navy blue block and also consists of 82 threads of varying specified colours.

The arrangement of the blocks is such that the mixed green block is adjacent to the forest green block in the width and to the mid blue block in the length, and the forest green block is adjacent to the mixed green block in the width and to the navy blue block in the length.


Mixed green block



Forest green block


Mid blue block



Navy blue block

If you are more visual than the descriptive drafters of the statute, here is a link to a picture from the Legislative Assembly.

According to the Act, the shades of green in the tartan represent the forests and fields of Ontario, the red represents the First Nations of Ontario, the blue represents the waters of Ontario and the white represents the sky over Ontario (there are white threads interspersed throughout the blocks).

For anyone who has ventured to Maxville in August for the annual Highland Games, where every clan’s individualized tartan is proudly on display, the level of detail set out in the statute for Ontario’s tartan might not be a surprise.  The addition of a few different coloured strands of thread can transform the tartan of one family to that of another.

While not as ubiquitous as the royal blue-dominant Nova Scotia tartan or the red, yellow and green-based tartan of Canada, the Ontario tartan is distinct in design and readily recognizable.

So for anyone without a family tartan who wants to embrace the plaid, proudly don the tartan of Ontario!

This blog post was written by Cheryl Gerhardt McLuckie, a member of the Environmental Law team.  Cheryl can be reached at 613-369-0365 or at

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