In 1953, just a few weeks after Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, Eric’s friend and fellow Arts and Letters Club member Vincent Massey was installed in Rideau Hall and became the first Canadian in modern times to be appointed Governor General. Rt. Hon. Massey had been instrumental in establishing the Canadian War Art program, and no doubt had a hand in Eric’s military art commission.
Whenever a new monarch accedes to the throne, a new Great Seal is designed. The Seal is used to certify Acts of Parliament, and the keeper of the Great Seal is the Queen’s representative, the Governor General. In the past, the Great Seal of Canada was always designed in Great Britain. Vincent Massey resolved that this important artifact would be designed by a Canadian in Canada. In 1954, on the strength of his interest in heraldry, Eric was awarded a commission to design the Great Seal.
Eric’s design and production routine for the Great Seal was thorough but straightforward: he made many drawings, first to establish an overall design, and then more detailed drawings for the figure, the crest and the typography. At the conclusion of the design phase, Eric carved the relief out of a slab of plaster that was at least twice the size of the final piece.
Rt. Hon. Vincent Massey was delighted with Eric’s design, and in the following year, he commissioned Eric to create a medal for the Massey Foundation Award of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.