Design of the Canadian ePassport

Canada’s ePassport is full of iconic images that make Canadian passports more attractive and more secure. These images showcase Canada’s history and the building of our great nation. Canada's ePassport has been available to all Canadians since July 1, 2013.

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Aboriginal People

Canada's Aboriginal People – the original people of North America and their descendents – are at the very start of the Canadian story. These images are symbolic of their rich cultures and history and proudly open Canada's new e-Passport.

The eagle feather is a symbol often associated with First Nations, who have lived on this land for millenia. From sea to shining sea First Nations comprise many diverse cultures; Canada has more than 600 distinct groups. The eagle is accorded the highest respect by First Nations and is considered the messenger of the Creator. The eagle feather represents the link between the People and the Creator.

The inuksuk calls to mind Inuit culture. The inuksuk is a traditional stone marker, where stones are placed on top of one another in particular formations, which was used to leave messages in the vastness of Northern Canada. Inuksuat can be seen in communities across Canada's north and an inuksuk is also proudly displayed on the territorial flag of Nunavut.

The Métis, whose ancestry is traced back to Europeans and First Nations, are represented by the infinity symbol. The infinity symbol represents the blending of two cultures, Aboriginal and European, into one society.

Countless Canadian place names come from aboriginal words, including the word "Canada" itself. In 1535, two young Aboriginals showed French explorer Jacques Cartier the way to a village. They used the word "kanata," which means "village" in the Iroquois language, but Cartier applied this word to the entire region.

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Samuel de Champlain

Samuel de Champlain's is known before history as the Father of New France, and in many ways, of Canada itself. He established Quebec City, and served as the first Governor of the colony. Explorer, geographer, and cartographer, Champlain changed the course of history. As is written in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography: "In him we must salute the founder of Canada."

In 1613 and again in 1615, Champlain explored the Ottawa River. Here we see an image of the statue of Champlain at Nepean Point in Ottawa. It is located at the same spot where Champlain made his solar observation during his 1615 expedition.

In these pages, we also see a drawing of the Don de Dieu, the ship Champlain sailed on several of his expeditions. In the background is an engraved map that was drawn in his own hand in 1612. This map, which represents New France, is the oldest map he created and still exists today. It illustrates the territory explored by Champlain and information gleaned from Native Americans and other French and English explorers. This is the first map to indicate the name "Montreal."

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The Fathers of Confederation

Here we can see one of Canada's most familiar and historic images: the painting of the Fathers of Confederation. The efforts of these men led to the foundation of the Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867.

Lost in the great fire that consumed Parliament's Centre Block in 1916, the painting by Robert Harris of Canada's Fathers of Confederation is still the most iconic single piece of artwork in our history. It was re-created by artist Rex Wood as a Centennial Project in 1967, the year Canadians marked the 100th anniversary of the work of the Fathers – George Brown, George-Étienne Cartier, Thomas D'Arcy McGee, John A. Macdonald and Sir Charles Tupper, and others -- that resulted in the creation of Canada on July 1, 1867.

Sir John A. Macdonald became Canada's first prime minister and was knighted for his efforts in bringing about Confederation. The page includes the following quotation of Macdonald speaking about Canada, the country he brought into being:

"…a great nation—great in thought, great in action, great in hope, and great in position."

Macdonald, in an address to voters in Toronto, early 1860s

Sir George-Étienne Cartier was one of the most influential politicians of his generation. Together with Sir John A. Macdonald, he was co-premier of the Province of Canada when he said famously.: 

"Le temps est venu pour nous de former une grande nation."

Cartier to the Assemblée législative, Québec, February 7, 1865

Cartier and Macdonald jointly envisioned a nation that would stretch from Atlantic to Pacific. Both played key roles in the construction of the transcontinental railway that would accomplish their dream. One of them, Macdonald, lived to travel the railway's bands of steel all the way to the Pacific coast. In 2015 Canada will mark the bicentenary of Sir John A. Macdonald's birth.

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The Last Spike, 1885

The driving of the last spike in the Canadian Pacific Railway marked one of the greatest achievements of Canada's first century. With its vast territory, Canada's railroad enabled the movement of settlers and natural resources across the country, securing trade, development and growth at a critical time in Canada's history. But it meant even more. Sir John A. Macdonald, put it best:

"Events have shown us that we are made one people by that road," adding, "that iron link has bound us together."

Chinese workers played a major role in the building of the railroad across Canada. In 2006, the Government officially apologized for the Chinese Head Tax policy that existed at the time, and saluted the contribution of Chinese workers to the construction of one of the pillars of Canadian nationhood.

The image depicts railroad director Donald A. Smith driving the last spike to complete the Canadian Pacific Railway on November 7, 1885, at Craigellachie in Eagle Pass, British Columbia. Rail continues to carry goods and people and remains a vital link that moves Canadian products to markets and the world.

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The Canadian North

The True North Strong and Free – a notion so fundamental it is in Canada's national anthem, O Canada, and has inspired the Canadian imagination for generations. The magical beauty of the North, its vibrant peoples and cultures – like the Inuit, Métis and Dene -- are a foundation of our national identity. The North is vital to Canada's future. It is our call to greatness.

The topographical map shown here illustrates the vast expanse of the Canadian North and highlights Canada's three territories: Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.

The image also highlights famed Canadian Arctic adventurer and explorer Captain Joseph-Elzéar Bernier. Bernier led numerous maritime expeditions in the Canadian North between 1906 and 1913 in his vessel, the Gauss, which he renamed the Arctic. He reinforced Canada's sovereignty over these ancient lands when he mounted a plaque on Melville Island on July 1, 1909. Today, the Canadian Rangers, the Canadian Armed Forces, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police help protect Canada's sovereignty over this vast natural inheritance.

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The Prairies

Canada's vast Prairies – which encompass the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba – are limited only by the imagination. The lands from which Canadian icons like Amelia Lemon Burritt, John Diefenbaker, Gordie Howe and Peter Lougheed came forth; the Prairies' greatest resource is her people.

Generations of hard work have made the Prairies Canada's breadbasket before the world. With more than 37 million hectares of land under cultivation — 80 per cent of Canada's farmland — the Prairies are an agricultural powerhouse. This remarkable success story is complemented by oil and gas production, forestry, mining and more. From the first pioneers to the Prairie residents of today, the Prairies exemplify the spirit, identity, and resourcefulness of our great country.

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Canada will always serve as a beacon of hope for millions seeking freedom and opportunity from around the world. One of our greatest prime ministers, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, put it best more than 100 years-ago when he said "Canada is free and freedom is its nationality." Laurier became Canada's first francophone prime minister in 1896. Upon election, his government immediately launched a campaign to encourage settlement of the West, leading to the creation of the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan in 1905.

Pier 21, pictured on these pages, was one of the most significant ports of entry for newly arrived immigrants. Located in Halifax, from 1928 to 1971, one million immigrants passed through Pier 21 and spread throughout Canada. It was also from this pier that 500,000 Canadian soldiers departed to defend freedom during the Second World War. Today, Pier 21 is a National Historic Site that symbolizes the building of the diverse, multicultural Canada we know today.

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The Centre Block of Parliament

Few Canadian buildings are as recognizable as the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. Flanked by the East and West blocks, the Centre Block of Parliament — with its distinctive Peace Tower and Library, the site of the House of Commons and the Senate — is familiar to Canadians and people around the world. Set above the rushing waters of the mighty Ottawa River, its position is commanding and fitting as the home of parliamentary democracy in our nation.

Although the buildings are alive with the drama of modern day debates, the echoes of times and personalities long since past still linger there. From Winston Churchill to Franklin Roosevelt and Nelson Mandela, world leaders have visited here and shared with Canadians speeches that have stood the test of history.

The Peace Tower was built as the First World War raged and was named in commemoration of Canada's commitment to peace. On the third floor is the Memorial Chamber, a richly carved room of gentle light, dedicated to recognizing the supreme sacrifice paid by so many in the service of Canada. The 92.2-metre tower also contains an observation area and the Carillon, a series of 53 bells weighing from 4.5 kg to 10,090 kg. The Dominion Carillonneur entertains visitors to Parliament Hill with regular recitals.

The page also includes a quotation from Canada's 13th Prime Minister, the Right Honourable John G. Diefenbaker, speaking about Parliament: "Parliament is more than procedure - it is the custodian of the nation's freedom."

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Niagara Falls

"I heard the mighty rush of water, and felt the ground tremble underneath my feet." So wrote novelist Charles Dickens upon visiting Niagara Falls in the 19th century. Niagara Falls is one of the world's most beautiful and recognizable natural wonders. Awesome in their thundering power and serene beauty they are situated on the border between Ontario, Canada, and the state of New York, in the United States. Niagara Falls is part of the Niagara River, which connects Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. These two lakes are part of the Great Lakes, along with Lakes Huron, Michigan and Superior. Together, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on earth.

This image shows the Canadian side of the falls, called Horseshoe Falls and makes it clear why they have long attracted huge numbers of visitors from Canada and around the world. They continue to be a popular destination for families, weddings, conferences and honeymoons.

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The Canadian National Vimy Memorial, France

Brigadier-General Alexander Ross, who commanded a battalion at Vimy Ridge, left history this memory of what took place in April 1917 on a hill in France, far from Canadian shores: "From dugouts, shell holes and trenches, men sprang into action, fell into military formations and advanced to the ridge -- every division of the corps moved forward together. It was Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific on parade. I thought then, and I think today, that in those few minutes, I witnessed the birth of a nation."

The capture of Vimy Ridge in April 1917 was a turning point in the First World War and a pivotal moment in Canadian history. When Canadian soldiers came together and took this German stronghold, they succeeded where other Allies had failed. This was the first time that the four Canadian divisions came together and fought as one. It is said that this four-day battle marked our country's coming-of-age on the international stage.

These pages show the Canadian National Vimy Memorial on Vimy Ridge, which marks the site of the great Canadian victory and stands as a tribute to all who served their country in battle and risked or gave their lives in that four-year struggle. The memorial, designed by Canadian sculptor and architect Walter Seymour Allward, and dedicated by King Edward VIII, stands on Hill 145, overlooking the Canadian battlefield. At the base of the Memorial, in English and in French, are these words:

To the valour of their countrymen in the Great War and in memory of their sixty thousand dead this monument is raised by the people of Canada.

More than 66,000 Canadians died in action, or of their wounds after the war—more than one in ten of those who had worn uniforms. Among the dead are many who have no known grave. Inscribed on the ramparts of the Memorial are the names of 11,285 Canadian soldiers who were posted "missing, presumed dead" in France. Another 6,994 names of missing Canadians are carved on the Menin Gate at Ypres, Belgium.

The Vimy Memorial has come to symbolize Canada's long commitment to defend freedom, democracy, and human rights in the world.

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The City of Québec

Québec City, founded in 1608 by French explorer Samuel de Champlain, is the most northerly walled city in North America. With its strategic location on the Saint Lawrence River, the city's roots were in the fur trade. Today, as the beautiful capital of the province of Québec, Québec City is the heart of francophone Canada. Its historic neighbourhood of Old Québec, depicted here, is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site.

The impressive building overlooking the scene is the Château Frontenac, a hotel built for the Canadian Pacific Railway Company and opened in 1893. It is one of the world's most photographed hotels and a national historic site. Indeed, Québec City is a unique tourist destination, known for its rich history, European charm and many festivals. The famous Carnaval de Québec, for one, attracts tens of thousands of visitors each winter.

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Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Proudly wearing their famous stetsons and Red Serge, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are Canada's iconic ambassadors to the world.

Canada's national police force traces its origins back to 1873, when a central police service was created by Canada's first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, to enforce the law and keep the peace in Canada's newly acquired western territories. The new police force gradually acquired the name North-West Mounted Police (NWMP). In 1920, the North-West Mounted Police merged with the Dominion Police, a federal service based out of Ottawa, and was renamed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

These images showcase the past and the present of Canada's national police service. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has evolved into an active and effective modern police service comprising of more than 31,000 men and women. The RCMP is unique in the world since it was a national, federal, provincial and municipal policing. The RCMP's scope of operations includes organized crime, terrorism, illicit drugs, economic crimes and offences that threaten the integrity of Canada's national borders.

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Moments in Canadian sport

Sports are an essential part of Canadian culture and identity. Canadians of all ages enjoy a variety of sports throughout the year.

These images celebrate two of Canada's most iconic and popular sports. The image on the left depicts young football players honing their skills, with the Grey Cup pictured in the background. The Grey Cup is the top prize in Canadian football and is awarded annually to the championship winning Canadian Football League (CFL) team each year. This year, the Canadian Football League is marking its centennial year.

The right-hand image shows another iconic Canadian scene: children playing pond hockey on a crisp winter day. Ice hockey is Canada's national winter sport and a true passion for countless Canadians of all ages. Many young players have dreams of hoisting the Stanley Cup, pictured in the background. The Cup is given each year to the winner of the National Hockey League playoffs.

Women's and men's Canadian hockey teams consistently rank among the best in the world. Canada is also an international leader in a variation of hockey called sledge hockey, which is designed for players with physical disabilities.

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The Famous Five and Terry Fox

Pages 30 and 31 of the new Canadian passport honour inspirational Canadians whose determination and strength resonate to this day.

The Famous Five, depicted on the left, are a group of five women known for launching the "Person's Case" of 1927. Nellie McClung (depicted in statue), Henrietta Edwards, Louise McKinney, Emily Murphy and Irene Parlby launched the case, seeking to prove that women were "persons" under Canadian law and could, therefore, sit on the Senate of Canada. When these trailblazing women won their case, they not only earned the right for women to serve in the Senate but helped pave the way for women to participate equally in all other aspects of public life.

On the right, is a depiction of courage and inspiration in the face of great odds –Terry Fox, who lost a leg to cancer in 1977. He was just 18 years old. In 1980 he began his Marathon of Hope to raise money for cancer research. Fox covered 5,373 kilometres in 143 days, through Atlantic Canada, Quebec and Ontario, before the cancer returned and forced him to stop his run near Thunder Bay, Ontario. Terry Fox died on June 28, 1981, one month before his 23rd birthday. Each year, millions of people participate in a fundraising run in more than 30 countries around the world in his name to raise money for cancer research.

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Canadians in War

Canada has a long and proud military tradition. Throughout our history, Canada's military forces have performed important and challenging roles on the sea, on land and in the air protecting our sovereignty, defending our freedom, and standing against oppression.

These pages depict some of the epic contributions that continue to define our country and Canadians. They also reflect our shared determination to remember those who have served and sacrificed in the defence of our country and our values.

The First World War (1914-1918), or "the Great War", saw more than 600,000 Canadians in uniform and claimed more than 60,000 Canadian dead and nearly three times as many injured. These were vast numbers for a population of only eight million Canadians. Here we see a picture of W.A. "Billy" Bishop, a legendary Canadian flier and recipient of the Victoria Cross.

Canada's contributions during the Second World War (1939-1945) were immense, diverse and influential. More than one million Canadians and Newfoundlanders served to help win the struggle against the tyranny and oppression that threatened the world. More than 45,000 Canadians gave their lives, and another 55,000 were wounded, fighting for our freedom. . In the lower left corner of this page, we see an image of Her Majesty's' Canadian Ship (HMCS) Sackville, the last remaining Flower-class corvette of the more than 120 built in Canada. By war's end, the Royal Canada Navy was the third largest Allied navy.

In the middle of the page is an image of Canadian infantry who fought alongside United Nations forces against Communism in the Korean War. All told 26,791 Canadians served in the Korean War and approximately 7,000 more between the cease-fire and the end of 1955. The names of 516 Canadian dead are inscribed in the Korea Book of Remembrance.

Depicted on the right is the National War Memorial, which stands triumphantly in the heart of downtown Ottawa. The memorial stands as the focal point of our nation's reverence for those who have served Canada in uniform and is the site of Canada's national Remembrance Day service each November 11. Since 2000, the National War Memorial is also the resting place of Canada's Unknown Soldier.

Many thousands of Canadians have served and continue to serve in conflict zones around the world, including today in Afghanistan. Canadians salute these brave men and women in uniform and remain grateful for their service and sacrifice.

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Cape Spear and the Bluenose

Bordered on three sides by the world's mightiest oceans, Canada's maritime legacy is rich and proud.

The ship pictured here is the famed Bluenose, a schooner built in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, in 1921. The Bluenose was not only a racing schooner, but also one of the great fishing vessels that helped build the reputation of the Grand Banks fishery. This iconic vessel is featured on the Canadian 10-cent coin.

Behind the Bluenose is Cape Spear, Newfoundland and Labrador, which is the most easterly point of land in North America. The lighthouse at Cape Spear dates back to 1836 and is the oldest surviving lighthouse in Newfoundland and Labrador. Its light helped ships navigate safely around the rocky coast near St. John's Harbour. During the Second World War, a coastal defence battery was constructed here to protect the Habour's entrance.

Visitors from across Canada and around the world today survey the horizon for whales, icebergs and of course the ships headed in and out of St. John's Harbour for their Atlantic journeys.