The History of Our School Crest
We know that the St. Michael’s School crest was created when founder Kyrle Symons wrote to Dulwich College, his alma mater in England, and asked to use their crest for his new school, with a colour change from all red to a blue chevron with black stars. We don’t have an exact history of how the University School crest was created, but the scarlet colour, martlets and open book reflect the crest of Victoria College from that time and are still seen in the University of Victoria coat of arms today. These elements are also thought to be drawn from Victoria College’s early connections to McGill University.
In fact, the elements from both crests appear widely throughout education and family heraldry, and help us understand the hopes that each founder had for their school. These definitions are pulled from various online resources including Wikipedia and the Hall of Names.
The book symbolizes learning and, if open, signifies manifestation. Written on the book of the University School crest was the motto Mens Sana In Corpore Sano, meaning “a healthy mind in a healthy body.” The motto was removed at amalgamation and does not appear in any future version.
The martlet, or heraldic swallow, is depicted with short tufts of feathers in the place of legs and is a device for someone prompt and ready in dispatch of their business. The martlet also signifies nobility acquired through bravery, prowess or intelligence and, in English heraldry, was a mark of cadency signifying the fourth son, who would likely not inherit land and would have to subsist on the wings of his virtue and merit alone.
Made from four uniform arms, this can be a symbol of unity, service, faith, navigation, balance, equality, or the four seasons, elements or directions.
Also called a mullet in heraldry, the five-point star, or cinquefoil, symbolizes honour, achievement and hope.
The chevron is commonly found among the insignias and heraldries of many of the earliest higher education institutions in the United States and the United Kingdom and signifies protection. In heraldry it is granted to those who had participated in some notable enterprise or faithful service.
With amalgamation, a new combined crest was created depicting the two founding schools’ crests, with University School’s overlapping St. Michael’s School’s. While that overlapping crest was used formally for many years, our research found that the standalone SMUS (or SMU) crest that we recognize today started appearing soon after amalgamation. That familiar crest can be seen stitched into school blazers in photos taken during the 1973-74 school year. By the 1998-99 school year, the SMU written in the school crest had become SMUS.