Painting the Province Plaid – Ontario Tartan Makes its Debut by Bruce Deachman

From the Ottawa Citizen 7 July 2006: Conservative MPP’s private member’s bill finally becomes law, giving the province its own colours.

Ontario can now boast an official tartan, joining the white trillium, amethyst, Eastern white pine and Common loon as recognized symbols of the province.

And Bill Murdoch, the Tory MPP from Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound whose private member’s bill made it happen, jokes that his next bill might be “to require every person in the province, every male, to wear a kilt at least once a year.”

Based on the tartan of Sir John Sandfield Macdonald, Ontario’s first premier, the Province of Ontario Tartan — its official name — has four colours: three shades of green to represent the province’s forests and fields; two shades of blue for its water; red for the province’s aboriginal communities; and white for the sky.

The cloth has been registered with the Scottish Tartans Authority in Crieff, Scotland, the final step in making it the province’s official tartan.

“It’s important to have symbols to be an Ontarian,” said Mr. Murdoch. “It’s a non-partisan and non-conflicting thing. It’s a fun thing.”

In June 2000, a private-member’s bill Mr. Murdoch put forward — the Tartan Act — received Royal assent, but a minor error in its colour description held up the process.

That matter wasn’t rectified until the final day of the most recent Legislative sitting — this past June 22 — when the province’s Good Government Act omnibus amendment received assent.

“It sure took a long time to get done,” said Mr. Murdoch, who also, back in 1991, had April 6 declared the province’s official Tartan Day.

“If the world was going to come to an end and we had to pass a bill, we’d probably never get it passed in time.”

According to Mr. Murdoch, the Province of Ontario Tartan is one that can be worn and enjoyed by all Ontarians, regardless of their heritage.

“This is an Ontario tartan,” he stressed.

“Anyone in Ontario can feel good about wearing a tartan, because it’s yours.

“Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it,” he added.

“It’s a helluva lot more comfortable than a tight pair of jeans up your ass,” he said.