The history

by Achille Fortin (0082), president
translated by Louise Gosselin (0013)
and Robert House

The history of The Coat of Arms of the Association des Fortin d’Amérique

During the first gathering of the Fortins in the summer of 2002 at St-Joachim, many of the members expressed an interest in creating a Coat of Arms for the Fortin family. The idea was acknowledged and filed for future action, bearing in mind that the Association was still in its infancy… In the summer of 2003, the Fortin family held its annual gathering at St-Jean-Port-Joli and the interest in obtaining a Coat of Arms was again raised and the Board of Directors was mandated to implement this project.

Prior to the Board of Directors commencing the study, André Fortin (043), his wife Raymonde Boutin and his brother Conrad Fortin (097), an industrial draughtsman, began some research which led to the creation of a model of the Coat of Arms for the Fortin families in America. They dedicated more than fifty hours on this project. The result of their research was presented to the Board of Directors at the meeting held on October 2, 2003. The interest to obtain a Coat of Arms became a priority. The then current President, Jean-Pierre Fortin, asked me to make the necessary inquiries to understand the ways and means of obtaining the approval from the Heraldic Authorities of Canada.

I started the investigation and at the meeting held on November 23, 2003, I presented a plan and associated costs. At the same meeting, a resolution was proposed and accepted unanimously that a request for a Coat of Arms be made to the Chief Herald of Canada and I was mandated to achieve this project.

A written request was sent to the Chief Herald of Canada on December 15, 2003. The request included the following documents:

  • The history and details of incorporation of the Association
  • A resolution of the Board of Directors requesting the grant of a Coat of Arms
  • A copy of the President’s annual report 2002-2003
  • The financial report dated May 31,2003
  • A copy of the proposed Coat of Arms

We were advised that the necessary steps would commence after payment of the processing fees of 450 $ and that Mrs Karine Constantineau, assistant Herald, also named Herald Miramichi, would be assigned the management of our project.

The discussions with Mrs Constantineau started on January 29, 2004. She informed us the she was available to proceed with the creation of a Coat of Arms which would reflect the personality and the history of the Association des Fortin d’Amérique. Mrs Constantineau reminded us that the identification of a Coat of Arms must be done rapidly and must include a clear drawing. In addition, for a Coat of Arms to be beautiful and heraldic, the elements which are integrated must form a whole, be simple and rapidly catch one’s eye. The motto which appears on all Coat of Arms must be short and express certain elements of the philosophy and the daily aspirations of the Association. Regarding the model proposed by the Association, she advised us that it could not be accepted as is, but that the elements and the motto which were proposed could serve as a base to begin the dialogue.

A first proposition of Coat of Arms was submitted at the end of April 2004. The proposed elements were well balanced and visible against a plain shield, original and very personal. In addition, the motto “Foi, labour” (Faith, work), submitted by the Board of Directors was accepted. We were advised that it was not possible to display the word « Fortin » on the scroll at the top of the shield. However, this operation could be accomplished after the approval of the Coat of Arms was granted.

The Board of Directors formed a sub-committee composed of five members, Achille Fortin, André Fortin,

Jean-Pierre Fortin, Rolande Fortin and Zachée Fortin to analyse the first proposition and any others as necessary. The sub-committee was mandated to submit the results of their analysis to the Board.

During the period from April to September 2004, the members of the sub-committee studied many proposals for the Coat of Arms and attaining a concensus was a long process. The presence of Mrs Karine Constantineau at one of the meetings greatly contributed to obtaining this result. These discussions permitted us to get explanations of certain rules and standards required in order to obtain the granting of the Coat of Arms. This meeting also allowed us to outline the expectations of the members of the Association to the Herald Miramichi who had the authority to manage and recommend our file to the Heraldic Authority of Canada.

The members of the Board of Directors accepted the final proposition of the Coat of Arms submitted by the Herald Miramichi, at the meeting held on September 11, 2004. This proposal took into consideration all of the comments collected during the correspondence, telephone calls and the sub-committee meeting with Mrs Constantineau. Among the modifications carried out was the addition of a star in the elements appearing on the shield. The star was added to represent the Fortins who live in the United States. The word “Famille” (Family) was added to the motto. At this meeting, the attending members authorized the preliminary design and colour of the proposed Coat of Arms of the Fortins in America. This design was prepared by Mr David Farrar, of Farrar Graphics, heraldic artist, and cost 450 $.

By the end of September, it was time to prepare the official “letters patent” for the Coat of Arms which included the final representation of the emblems (painted final art) and a legal text (calligraphy). The members of the Board of Directors chose one of the two proposed format of the “letters patent” and decided that the French text should be at left on the bilingual document. The members in attendance adopted the final text which explains the symbolism of each element contained in the Coat of Arms. The symbolism reads as follows : The Coat of Arms of the Association des Fortin d’Amérique is composed of elements of the Coat of Arms of Normandy and Perche, ancestral regions of the Fortins. The fortress is a reference to the name Fortin, as the word « fortin » means small fort. The waves represent the Atlantic crossing made by our ancestors coming to Nouvelle-France. The Fleur de Lys represents France and French Quebec. The Maple Leaf reminds us of the Fortin’s presence in Canada and the Star, their presence in the United States. The motto « Famille, foi, labour » (Family, faith, work) becomes the watchword for the Fortins of yesterday and today. The original concept of the Coat of Arms is by Karine Constantineau, Herald Miramichi, assisted by the heralds of the Canadian Heraldic Authority. The artist is David Farrar and the calligrapher Luc Saucier. The final design of the letters patent and calligraphy cost 590 $ and 200 $ respectively. The official granting of the Coat of Arms to the Association des Fortin d’Amérique and the registration of the symbolism are recorded in Volume IV, page 416 of the Public Register of the Coat of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada dated November 15, 2004 and signed by Robert Douglas Watt, Herald of Arms of Canada. In February 2005, the Association received the two official documents which grant the Coat of Arms and the official notification of the grant of the Coat of Arms to the Association appeared in the Gazette of Canada on March 12, 2005.

Having in hand the official copy of the Coat of Arms of the Association des Fortin d’Amérique, the Board of Directors planned to unveil it at the Fortin gathering at Baie-St-Paul in July 2005. It was also decided to create a pin bearing the effigy of the Coat of Arms and order its production. The pin will show the word “fortin” on a scroll above the shield. Carrier Fortin is in charge of this project. On July 9, 2005, during the banquet where more than 200 persons were present, the Coat of Arms of the Association des Fortin d’Amérique was unveiled. This was a very moving moment during the gathering.

What was a dream in 2002. a project in 2003. became a reality.
The official Coat of Arms symbolizes extremely well the history, the presence and the life of the Fortins in North America.

Unveiling of the coat of arms by Achille Fortin, President and Jean-Pierre Fortin, Founding President.