Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Legislature gets new tartan for its 200th anniversary

The new tartan's colours — green, red, black, yellow/gold, white and tan — are meant to incorporate important emblems that embody the legislature.

Halifax designer Veronica MacIsaac used colours including green, red, black and gold in new tartan creation

Highland dancers perform at a ceremony at the legislature in Halifax on Friday, April 5, 2019. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

The Nova Scotia Legislature is giving a nod to the province's Scottish heritage — unveiling a new registered tartan made by a young Halifax fashion designer.

The tartan is a first for a Canadian parliament.

"It's a fabulous honour," designer Veronica MacIsaac said following a ceremony Friday at the House of Assembly, which is marking its 200th anniversary this year.

"I was very happy when I received the call, and I'm happy to be a part of this."

MacIsaac said it took about a week to come up with the design after receiving specific instructions from the legislature's staff.

Speaker Kevin Murphy addresses a ceremony at the Nova Scotia Legislature in Halifax, marking the designation of Province House's official tartan. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

The tartan's colours — green, red, black, yellow/gold, white and tan — are meant to incorporate important emblems that embody the legislature.

"They were very specific about what colours they wanted," she said. "They also were very specific about which colours were to cross other colours, so there was only kind of a few ways I could go with it really."

MacIsaac said she submitted five versions and the final one was selected by the staff.

Tartan Day

Nova Scotia House Speaker Kevin Murphy unveiled the new tartan and a new act was also introduced officially designating it in the house. The Nova Scotia Tartan Act recognizes April 6 as Tartan Day, in appreciation of the Scottish clans in Canada.

MacIsaac has gained attention for fashion designs incorporating tartan.

She said she uses tartan designs in her clothing in a "modern way" so that people can proudly wear their family tartans in a style that they would normally wear.

MacIsaac said she has customers all over the world, selling across North America and the United Kingdom, as well as in places as diverse as Hong Kong and South Africa.

MLAs attend a ceremony as the government introduces the House of Assembly Tartan Act, which will designate the official tartan for Nova Scotia's House of Assembly in Halifax on Friday. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

However, she said it was "fantastic" to be asked to design the legislature's tartan because she was born in and works in Nova Scotia.

"I just think it's a great way to add a little bit more tartan into the world and who doesn't want that?" said MacIsaac.

Murphy said the green in the tartan represents the legislative chamber, while the red reflects the so-called Red Chamber, where house committees meet.

Black represents the speaker's and clerks robes, while gold depicts the mace and white is indicative of the laws passed by the House of Assembly, he said. Tan represents the sandstone exterior of the legislature known as Province House.

'Paying tribute to Nova Scotia's roots'

Murphy said the tartan reflects the past and future of the legislature while "paying tribute to Nova Scotia's roots."

"We have 26 current [legislature] members who identify as having Scottish ancestry," he said. "According to the 2016 census, 30 per cent of Nova Scotia's population identifies as having Scottish ethnicity."

According to its website, Province House is the oldest legislative building in Canada and "has been characterized by some as the finest example of Palladian architecture in the country."

It has been the permanent home of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly since 1819.


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