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About Sickkids
About SickKids

February 15, 2017

Part of SickKids history waves proudly upon our flag

By Roshan Dewani, Intern, Communications & Public Affairs

Photo of SickKids flag.

This year marks Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation (Canada 150) and the 52nd anniversary of the Canadian national flag, which was raised for the first time on Parliament Hill on February 15, 1965.

High atop the flagpoles at the entrance to The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) proudly waves not only the Canadian and Ontario flags, but also SickKids’ very own flag. The SickKids flag is based on our coat of arms which was designed by Dr. Robert B. Salter, a renowned and pioneering orthopaedic surgeon and researcher at SickKids.

Red, blue and white, the flag features four key elements from SickKids’ coat of arms which were designed to represent the hospital’s core pillars and responsibilities; the rod of Aesculapius, the lighted lamp of Florence Nightingale, the open book and the ancient heraldic key.

Intersecting at the centre of the flag, the red cross of St. George of England on a white background is symbolic of the fact that SickKids was named after The Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street in London, England. The maple leaf in the centre of the red cross of St. George symbolizes that SickKids is a municipal, provincial, national and international institution.

The rod of Aesculapius with a serpent entwined were attributes of Aslepius (Latin: Aesculapius), the Greek god of medicine and is symbolic of SickKids’ medical staff.

The lighted lamp of Florence Nightingale is symbolic of nursing staff and represents SickKids’ first responsibility to patient care.

The open book is a heraldic symbol that is used by many universities. It represents SickKids’ second responsibility, learning. SickKids is a teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto and provides education at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Patients pose with the SickKids flag
Patients pose with the SickKids flag

The ancient heraldic key is the third symbol which represents mystery of enigma or a task to be performed and a means of carrying it out. This symbolizes the third pillar, research. The wards of the key are intentionally drawn to form the letter “E” which can be considered a subtle indication of excellence. 

Salter's design of SickKids’ crest was approved by the Board of Trustees in 1975 to mark the hospital’s centennial. Our flag is a modified version of the shield used in the crest, and was adopted in 1993. 

Canada150 SickKids series logo
To recognize Canada 150, we are celebrating SickKids moments that have shaped the hospital – and the nation. Throughout 2017, we’ll be highlighting the people and ideas that have contributed to Canada’s past, present and future.