A former Yellowknife resident was in for quite a surprise last month when he got a little taste of the North all the way in Rome, Italy.
When Patrick Monaghan checked into a little hotel called Hotel Montreal, he noticed something familiar: the flag of the Northwest Territories.
That’s because the hotel’s crest undeniably resembles the territory’s flag, complete with gold bars, a white fox and a wavy blue line near the top.
Monaghan, who spent 32 years living in the North, says he picked the hotel because of its proximity to the city’s train terminal and its relatively cheap cost for a night’s stay.
But he admits it also provided a sense of home because of its popularity among Canadian tourists.
“I noticed it was called Hotel Montreal whereas everything else kind of had a more Italian or European flavour … and then we got to the hotel and I noticed that there’s the NWT crest as part of their identity.
“It’s a stylized version, but I told the front desk clerk, ‘did you know that those yellow rectangles represent gold bars?’ and I got a blank look. He said, ‘no I don’t really know what you’re talking about.”
Monaghan, who now calls Vancouver home, wanted to learn more about the hotel so he asked some of the employees about its history during his six-day stay in the Italian capital.
Through the hotel’s front desk clerk, he learned that the girlfriend of the original owner suggested it be called Hotel Montreal since Hotel New York was already taken.
“So I asked the front desk clerk, who’s been there for a long time, ‘well what about the crest?’ and he had no knowledge that it was actually the NWT.
“What they did do was go to the Canadian embassy and they said, ‘we would like to use something from Canada because we’re calling it Hotel Montreal.’ The Embassy turned them down initially.
“But at some point in this process someone said, ‘use this’. It happened to be the NWT crest and I thought, ‘they have permission from the Canadian embassy to use something that’s Canadian and is copyrighted.’
“I don’t think the embassy quite realized what they were doing so the impact is that in Rome, we have this wonderful little hotel that’s called Hotel Montreal because Hotel New York was taken, and we have the NWT crest as their hotel identity.
“So somehow they have permission from the Canadian embassy, but how it ended up being chosen to use the NWT crest, I have no idea.”
On Friday, the legislature indicated to Moose FM that the armorial bearings of the NWT, including the shield of arms and the crest, are protected under the Territorial Emblems and Honours Act.
The crest is also an officially registered and protected symbol in Canada under the federal Trade-marks Act.
When it comes to enforcing the use of symbols outside of the country, the territorial government says it can only do so much.
“We have been aware of the use of a modified version of the territorial crest on the Hotel Montreal logo but it is highly unlikely that we will be following up on the issue,” read a press release issued by the legislature.
“Our ability to monitor, protect and enforce the unauthorized use of our symbols beyond our Canadian borders is, in practical terms, very limited.
“At this point in time, any arguments against potential misuses abroad would be moral in nature rather than legal.
“We receive many requests for authorized use to reproduce our territorial symbols and emblems and as a rule, we are supportive of those that wish to expand our profile and create positive awareness of our territory beyond our borders.”