Let’s talk about the Canadian Flag, eh? What a unique design – and it’s perfectly symmetrical – looks the same no matter which way it’s flying!
I’d like to think it’s widely recognized around the world. So much, in fact that people from (ahem) other countries sew Canadian Flags to their backpacks so people think they’re Canadian!
So can anyone guess how long Canada has had the flag you see today?
The 50-star version of the Star Spangled Banner is 56 years old. The Maple Leaf we use today was adopted 51 years ago. Before that, well, let’s just say that Canadians aren’t always as agreeable as some might think.
Before 1965, our flag looked like this:
It was called the Canadian Red Ensign, and it paid homage to our British roots in the top left corner (where we came from) and the Canadian Coat of Arms in the centre-right (who we became).
Many Canadians wanted a flag that depicted our own identity as a free country, away from our colonial roots, but many others wanted an original flag that still contained the Union Jack. And over the years, Canadians debated what that depiction might look like. In 1964, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson presented the plan to change the flag and Canadians argued for over six months on what the final product would look like, causing much tension and conflict within parliament during the process. In fact, according to reports, it got downright nasty between people at Parliament Hill for a while.
To see some of the proposed flags and the controversy, check out this video:
Eventually, today’s design of the Maple Leaf was approved. It contained red and white (already the official colours of Canada, by King’s decree), and a centred maple leaf (a symbol used to represent Canada since the 1700’s). Finally, in 1964, the Canadian government voted to adopt the Maple Leaf as the new national flag.
Ta da! (in case you didn’t know what it looked like):
So I’ll conclude with some interesting national flag facts:
- The majority of flag suggestions depicted a maple leaf, followed by a union jack, and followed by a beaver. We could have had a rodent on our flag!
- February 15th is “National Flag Day” in Canada, the day of the official inauguration ceremony in 1965.
- People might still see the original Red Ensign around Canada – mostly at Veterans organizations and legions. Most of the people who rejected the Maple Leaf were veterans, who had fought for Canada under a much different flag.
- There is no official law saying how you should treat or fly the Canadian Flag, but the Department of Canadian Heritage have published some rules and guidelines that people should follow.
- The Canadian flag is twice as long as it is wide.
- It is not illegal to burn the Canadian Flag as it would violate citizens’ freedom of expression under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In fact, it is suggested that the dignified way to destroy a worn or tattered flag is to burn it privately.
Canadians are very proud of their flag. They will wave it at the top of mountains. wear it on their shirts, or wrap a Canadian Flag towel around them on the ski hills (no names)! If you see someone with a Canadian Flag, say “Hello Canada!” Apparently, the world thinks we’re pretty friendly people (for the most part)!