For over a thousand years, originating with the Dukes of Normandy, civic authorities have borne an official seal incorporating the arms of the authority. This seal was originally worn on a gold chain around the neck of the chief official. This "decoration" has evolved into the modern Chain of Office. Although decorative, the practice of wearing a Chain of Office has become steeped in historic tradition, and is one that is followed not only by elected officials, but by the executives of civic organizations as well.
A modern Chain of Office is composed of several elements joined together with pieces of chain, from which hangs a medallion. Chains of Office are almost always sewn onto a velvet collar, which is not only decorative, but makes the chain much more comfortable to wear.
Upon inauguration of a new Mayor of Toronto, the Chain of Office is symbolically placed around the Mayor's neck and traditionally worn throughout the inauguration ceremony at the First Meeting of Toronto City Council.
When the City of Toronto was amalgamated in 1998, the new Chain of Office utilized gold medallions to incorporate elements from the five former Cities and the Borough of East York, and the Municipality of Metro Toronto. The City of Toronto Chain of Office includes, clockwise from top:
- The Shield of Canada on a gold medallion
- Two golden maple leaves and the Canadian Flag
- The Civic Coat of Arms of the former City of York with a beaver on the left-hand side of the shield, a symbol of the city's history for industry and activity
- The Civic Coat of Arms of the former City of Etobicoke featuring Etobicoke's symbol, an alder tree, in the centre of the shield
- The Civic Shield of the former City of North York featuring North York's motto, "Progress With Economy"
- The Civic Shield of the former Municipality of Metro Toronto featuring eagle wings in the top of the shield, a symbol of our city's native background
- The Civic Coat of Arms of the former City of Toronto incorporated in 1834
- The Civic Coat of Arms of the former City of Scarborough featuring Scarborough's symbol, the columbine flower, in the centre of the shield
- The Civic Coat of Arms of the former Borough of East York formerly Canada's only Borough, featuring a Bulldog, East York's mascot
- The Provincial Shield of Ontario and two golden maple leaves
- Hanging from the bottom of the Chain of Office, and worn in front, is a golden medallion with the amalgamated City of Toronto's Coat of Arms. Learn more about our Coat of Arms.
The Mayor wears the Chain of Office on ceremonial occasions when he appears in his official capacity, as a mark of pride in the city in which we live. It also acknowledges the responsibilities, authority and dignity which are attached to the office of the Chief Magistrate of the city of Toronto.
Ceremonial events where the Chain of Office would be worn: First Meeting of Council, Mayor's Levee and Official visits.
When not in use, the Chain of Office may be viewed in the display case located inside the reception area of the Mayor's office.