5 amazing facts about the creation of the National Flag of Canada

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February 15th is National Flag of Canada Day. This flag was first used on Parliament Hill on February 15, 1965. That means it has only been around for about 50 years.

Wait, Canada is more than 150 years old. Why did it take so long for Canada to have a national flag? Let’s find out:

  1. Before 1965, Canada used different flags

    Canada has used many flags throughout its history. One of the earliest flags was the Banner of France. The Red Ensign (flag of the British Merchant Marine) was also used. Canada also used the Royal Union Flag, also known as the Union Jack.

  2. In the past, people tried to make a national flag three times

    In 1925, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King wanted to create a new flag for Canada. But many people still wanted to keep the Union Jack. So, the idea was not accepted.

    Mackenzie King tried again in 1945-46. He asked people to submit ideas for a new flag. A total of 2,409 designs were sent in. Most of them had maple leaves. But, many people still wanted to keep the Union Jack.

  3. The Prime Minister promised that a new flag would be ready in two years

    In 1961, Lester (“Mike”) Pearson was the Secretary of State for External Affairs. He wanted to send Canadian troops as peacekeepers. But, the troops used the Red Ensign, which was a British symbol. This made Pearson want to create a national flag for Canada. He asked John Ross Matheson, an expert on flags, to help.

    When Pearson became Prime Minister in 1963, he promised that Canada would have a national flag in two years. About 5,900 designs were sent to the Multi-Party Committee. In the end, two designs were chosen. The single-leaf design won the vote. It was approved by the House of Commons and the Senate. The Queen signed the royal proclamation on January 28, 1965. This made the single-leaf design the official flag of Canada.

  4. The Great Flag Debate

    This is a discussion about the design of a flag.

    • The Canadian government wanted to create a new flag. So, they formed a committee to study the issue. They asked for people to submit designs. After two years, the committee presented one design to the House of Commons.
    • This started a long debate. Around 308 speeches were made! In the end, the current flag was approved with a vote of 163-78.
  5. Who made the Canadian Flag?

    John Ross Matheson is the Father of the Canadian Flag. The design was created by Dr. George Stanley. He made two designs. One had a single red maple leaf in the centre. The other had three maple leaves on one stem. Matheson changed Stanley’s design slightly. He chose one maple leaf with a white box in the middle. This made the Canadian flag one of the most recognizable and respected symbols in the world.

Respect and reverence for the flag

Did you know that it is not allowed to add anything to the flag or to use it as a tablecloth?

The National Flag of Canada is a very important symbol. It should be used with respect. When it is flown in Canada, it should be the only flag on the mast (the only exception is the Flags of the Royal Family). Everyone should face the flag, be quiet, and take off their hats. People in uniforms should salute. When the flag is raised or lowered (or carried in a parade), these rules still apply.

The Canadian flag is a symbol of the country. Here are some things you should not do with the flag:

  • Use it as a tablecloth, seat cover, box cover, or as a stage or platform curtain.
  • Cover a statue, monument or plaque with it for an unveiling ceremony.
  • Pin or sew anything on the flag.
  • Sign on it or draw on it in any way.

You can pin the Canadian flag to your clothes or backpack, wear it on your shirt, or fly it proudly in your front yard. But remember to leave the design as it is.

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