Ottawa-based design studio Northern Army has created an online archive of their favorite Canadian logos. Here, Air Canada's logo from 1965. The airline has since made ever-so-slight alterations to the famous maple leaf, making it look curvier and more organic.

The database started as a personal pet project: “We wanted to collect the logos we grew up with and are still inspired by in one place,” says Rene Antunes, cofounder of Northern Army. Here, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's outwardly radiating logo from 1974. In 1992, CBC simplified the logo, changing it to just red on a white background.

Many of the designs featured have what Antunes calls a "retro slant" and have since been updated or replaced. Here, the logo for the City of Montreal.

So far, the designers have collected 186 (and counting) logos. Here, the Toronto Zoo's logo.

It’s clear that the Northern Army team has an affinity for the more restrained, flat graphics from the 1960s through the '80s. However, the Montreal Canadiens hockey team logo, seen here, remains the same today.

“There’s a degree of coldness to our design, which I suppose is fitting,” Antunes tells Co.Design. Here, Bank of Montreal's logo, before it became red, white, and ensconced in a circle.

A few flat, pared-down grains stand for the Canadian Wheat Board.

The logo for the Canadian National Railway Company, which remains unchanged today.

Vancouver hosted the 1986 World Exposition on Transportation and Communication, also known as Expo 86.

The National Film Board's logo.

The National Hockey League might be headquartered in New York, but with seven teams in Canada, Northern Army decided to include the company's original 1917 logo.

The design studio included some lesser-known designs as well, like the icon for electricity provider Ontario One.

The Parks Canada design from 1970.

Province of Ontario.

TV Ontario's bubbly logo.

One particularly retro icon: retailer The Bay's old golden logo.

1976 Summer Olympics.

The design for Conklin Shows, a traveling circus troupe, hasn't changed much today. See all the logos here.

Co.Design

18 Of Canada's Best Logos

To spotlight their country's under-appreciated graphic design, Northern Army has created an online dossier of some of Canada’s exceptional branding efforts. Not bad, eh?

The Swiss get a lot of credit for their graphic design. And New York gave the design world the likes of Saul Bass, Paul Rand, and Milton Glaser, to name just a few. But Canada’s legions of graphic designers seem to go somewhat uncelebrated, which is a shame: A scroll through this new online register of the country’s logos reveals that our northern neighbors have long had a capacity for tasteful and minimal branding.

The Northern Army Preservation Society of Canada, as it’s called, is an online dossier of Canada’s best logos, curated by Ottawa-based design studio Northern Army. Rene Antunes, cofounder of Northern Army, says it started as a personal pet project: "We wanted to collect the logos we grew up with and are still inspired by in one place," he says. The "preservation" part refers to what Antunes calls the "retro and vintage slant to many of these logos," since many have been outmoded and replaced by design updates.

Conklin Shows (left), Canada's National Film Board (right)

So far, they’ve collected 186 (and counting) logos. There are some of Canada's most famous designs, like the globally recognized Air Canada maple leaf, the outwardly radiating Canadian Broadcasting Corporation symbol, and the ultra-clean Olympic logo for 1976. Mixed in with those are far more obscure designs, like old grocery store emblems.

Looking at these, it’s clear the Northern Army team has an affinity for the more restrained, flat graphics from the 1960s through the '80s. "There’s a degree of coldness to our design, which I suppose is fitting," Antunes tells Co.Design. Going forward, they plan to keep amassing favorite and forgotten logos, and think that the process might help reassert Canadian design identity at a time when the Internet makes that kind of geographic uniqueness harder to come by: "I think to some degree we’re losing some of the characteristics that set us apart. The Internet has globalized design in a way where regional styles are less pronounced," Anderson says. Next up for the Preservation Society: stories and background on some of the logos and designers featured on the site.

A few of Northern Army's favorites are in the slide show above. See all the logos here.

*A previous version of this story said we had 20 logos. In fact, there are 18 of Northern Army's favorites.

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  • Unfortunately some of these classic, strong logos have since been redesigned by unenlightened committees hiring weak or junior designers. The new logo for Ontario is the saddest example of this.