Examinations for the Art and Science of Heraldry


The RHSC offers proficiency courses and examinations for those individuals who wish to learn more about the art and science of heraldry and for those who wish to go further in order to achieve a designation of Licentiate of the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada -- LRHSC. The program is designed as self-directed learning. The examinations are based on the material found in the bibliography below.

Program Description

Self-directed learning comprises three levels, each level building on the previous one and adding more sophisticated material. Examinations are available from the RHSC in either English or French. Progress to Level 2 requires a passing grade in the examination for Level 1. Additional requirements for those candidates who wish to achieve the designation of LRHSC is described below.


This is an introduction to the art and science of heraldry, and is intended to form a foundation of knowledge in the history of heraldry, explore the component parts of an achievement and introduce the individual to the contemporary place of heraldry in Canada today. An important capability at the conclusion of Level 1 is the ability of the candidate to correctly blazon a relatively simple coat of arms.

  1. General Heraldry - Either Boutel's Heraldry by J. P. Brooke-Little; or The Complete Book of Heraldry by Stephen Slater. For those selecting the latter, a hand-out will be prepared describing those areas in Boutel that are not fully covered in Slater.
  2. Heraldic Dictionary - A New Dictionary of Heraldry by Stephen Friar is currently available in print. However, any standard dictionary of heraldry, such as Brooke-Little's An Heraldic Alphabet, Franlyn and Tanner's An Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Heraldry or Elvin's A Dictionary of Heraldry would be satisfactory.
  3. Canadian Heraldry - (a) Beddoe's Canadian Heraldry. Because this book is virtually unavailable, an on-line or CD version will be made available to candidates. (b) A handout outlining specifically Canadian terms of blazon covered in the syllabus will be made available to candidates.
  4. Primer - A Canadian Heraldic Primer by Kevin Greaves is readily available in English and French, through the Society.
  5. Blazonry - A handout, A Guide to Basic Blazonry by Kevin Greaves, will be made available to candidates.
  6. Canadian Heraldic Authority - Information about the CHA can be obtained from its website or via the RHSC website link.

  1. The origins of heraldry as it developed in Western Europe. The history of heraldry in Canada.
  2. The Canadian Heraldic Authority, the officers of arms and their titles. Granting and registering arms in Canada.
  3. The complete armorial achievement - component parts.
  4. The tinctures of heraldry, including the common furs (ermine and vair and their variants). The rules of tincture.
  5. The field and its divisions:
  6. a. The Ordinaries; b. The diminutives, including multiples; c. The sub-ordinaries.
  7. The most commonly used charges, as well as their attributes and attitudes:
    a. Animals; b. Monsters; c. Birds; d. Fish; e. Trees and flowers; f. Armour and weapons; g. Human figures and parts; h. Common symbols of profession, craft and trade; and i. Common simple figures:
     Broad arrowGarb
     CinquefoilMullet (and spur rowel)
     Fleur de lisTrefoil
  8. Crosses - the most common types:
  9. Crowns and Coronets - the most common types:
     The Royal CrownNaval
     Coronet of a DukeVallary
     BaronCrest Coronet
     Canadian Coronets*Crest Coronets with other symbolic features*
  10. Crests and Crest Ornaments - Coronets, chapeaux, wreaths and mantlings.
  11. Supporters and Compartments. Insignia of office, orders, honours and decorations. The marshalling of arms in Canada (for office only)*.
  12. Badges - personal and clan badges.
  13. The inheritance of arms - Canadian practice. A general knowledge (only) of the marks of cadency for male and female inheritors. Other means of differencing arms for cadency in Canada.*
  14. Canadian public heraldry. The arms of Canada and the Provinces; arms of selected municipalities; badges of selected military units, ships, police forces (you will have to select some and list same).*
  15. Blazonry - the language of blazon. For an additional 20 points, candidates will be required to blazon a simple achievement.**
* For these items, a special hand-out will be required, outlining the special Canadian features mentioned
** For this section, candidates should have a copy of - Greaves - A Guide to Basic Blazonry.


This level is based on similar material as required for Level 1, but requiring a greater range of knowledge and greater detail. The candidate must first successfully achieve a passing grade on the Level 1 examination.

  1. International Heraldry
  2. Arms of women - British, Continental and Canadian practice.
  3. The Royal Arms - history.
  4. Heraldic distinctions of rank, office and honour (including insignia) in Canada, Britain and elsewhere.
  5. Marshalling inherited arms by: a. impalement; b. dimidiation; c. escutcheon of pretence; d. quartering.
  6. Canting arms.
  7. Funeral hatchments.
  8. Corporate Heraldry:
  9. Flags: a. Banners; b. Standards; c. Pennants; d. Gonfanons; e. Other.
  10. The use and display of heraldry; ancient and modern.
  11. Advanced topics in blazoning arms:
  12. Practical Blazonry: For an additional 20 points, candidates will be expected to blazon an illustrated heraldic achievement.
  13. Hatching and tricking.
  14. Sources of heraldic knowledge - reference books, manuscripts, seals, rolls of arms, stained glass, pedigrees, monumental brasses, tombs, etc.
  15. Heraldic Research. The candidate will be required to undertake a course of study (guided or self-directed) in a specific heraldic subject - chosen in consultation with the Chief Examiner - and present a critical essay or review of the literature on that subject. This essay should be of 2000 - 3000 words and provide an overview of the subject or a critical summary, available from published materials that are relatively easy of access.


Level 3

Those candidates who wish to achieve the designation of Licentiate of the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada -- LRHSC, must not only successfully complete Level's 1 & 2 examinations, but must also successfully complete one of the following:

  1. Must submit a presentation (in duplicate) of an original scholarly thesis on some aspect of Canadian heraldry on a topic first approved by the board of examiners prior to the candidate undertaking the research.
  2. Or obtain twelve (12) credits by presentation of evidence of being instrumental in the process of obtaining grants of armorial bearings to:
    1. Group 1: - 12 credits
      • A grant to one of the following:
        1. an incorporated municipality
        2. a university, a college of a university, or a community college
        3. an official government body (national, provincial or territorial) or equivalent
        4. a professional governing body (national or provincial)
        5. a nationally recognized private corporation
        6. a grant of a badge to a Canadian Forces unit or formation
    2. Group 2: - 6 credits
      • A grant to one of the following:
        1. a nationally organized association
        2. a nationally organized charitable organization
        3. a national ecclesiastical organization
        4. a major ecclesiastical body (diocese, cathedral or equivalent)
    3. Group 3: - 4 credits
      • A grant to one of the following:
        1. a provincially organized association or charitable body
        2. a provincially organized private corporation
        3. a church or synagogue
    4. Group 4: - 3 credits
      • A grant to one of the following:
        1. other corporate body
        2. individual (personal arms), with crest
    5. Group 5: - 2 credits
      • A grant to one of the following:
        1. officially recognized cadet unit (as a badge)
        2. individual (personal arms), without crest
        3. other acceptable heraldic work
    6. Equivalency: - Where a question of equivalency arises, it shall be determined by the Society, at its absolute discretion.
Successful completion of Level 3 entitles the candidate to use the post-nominal letters L.R.H.S.C. (Licentiate of the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada). The documents submitted for examination for Level 3 remain the property of the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada.

Fees and Instructions
Fees Level 1 Level 2 Level 3
Member $80.00 $80.00 $100.00
Non-Member $80.00 $120.00 $200.00

A cheque for the fees (in Canadian currency) should be made payable to the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada and enclosed together with the name, address and telephone number of some person who will agree to receive the examination and to supervise the writing of it.

In order to request more information regarding the examinations, or to apply for an examination, candidates should write to:
Chief Examiner
P.O. Box 8128
Terminal T
Ottawa, ON K1G 3H9


Sources upon which the examinations have been most principally based have been set out in bold text. Some are still in print. Others may be obtained second hand. Notwithstanding the foregoing, it may be possible for candidates to obtain help preparing for the examinations through individual instruction from members of the Society or through lectures organized by the individual branches.

English Bibliography


French Bibliography

Released: January 12, 2004
Updated: September 25, 2016