THE WINGED UNICORN
“Larger than life!”
A Ships Company, whether based on sea or land, should take pride in the design and history of its Ships Crest. Ships
and NRDs have attractive crests and in many cases fascinating stories behind their heraldry. UNICORN sailors
(in their unbiased opinion) believe they have one of the finest!
HMCS UNICORN, an important part of Saskatoon for over 80 years, was established in 1923 and commissioned
as a land-based ship (“Stone Frigate”) in 1943. The ship's crest was adopted from the former HMS UNICORN of the
Royal Navy, and was approved in 1948. It is often noted that the UNICORN crest is unique in that it is a unicorn with
wings! The specific reasons for this are lost in the mists of time, but it may be because ships of the Royal Navy often
wings to their crests after a particularly arduous campaign.
It is likely that the wings you see on today's crest
sometime during the 18 th century. One famous HMS UNICORN was an aircraft carrier,
so the wings were
particularly relevant for that ship.
HMCS UNICORN honors all namesake Royal Navy vessels by remembering their battle honors,
which date back to 1588!
So, if a ship has a uniquely attractive and historical crest, what do you do with it? Show it off, of course!
With this in mind, UNICORN sailors decided to have the crest prominently displayed on the units' beautiful hardwood
deck. Various options, including having stencils made and decal printing were explored, but found to be unsatisfactory.
The scale was just too big! Fortunately, a “Friend of Unicorn”, came to the rescue.
Gloria Stefanson is a local movie set designer and talented artist. When UNICORN approached her with the
project, she was enthusiastic and able to immediately envision what was required. Using the original approved crest
design from 1948, she recreated the exact image on the center of the deck- over 3 meters in size! Gloria began work on
the project in August. The surface was prepared, the design laid out, and the crest painted completely by hand -carefully
matching colors and details- in acrylics and gold leaf. The final product received no less than nine coats of clear finish to
protect it. The remainder of the deck was refinished over the Christmas leave period to add the finishing touch.
“I was pleased and honored to be asked to do this project” says Stefanson.
“This was a very challenging, yet very unique creation. It's a ‘once-in-a-lifetime' thing for an artist”.
"HMCS Unicorn's Deck Crest"
The final product is no less than stunning. Our Unicorn has come alive!
Members of the Ship's company
and visitors to UNICORN alike are impressed and proud of this symbol of their pride and history.
CPO2 Mike Steckhan