Flag of Canada
|Name||The Maple Leaf, l'Unifolié|
|Use||National flag and civil and state ensign|
|Adopted||February 15, 1965|
|Design||A vertical bicolour triband of red, white, and red in the ratio 1:2:1, with a red maple leaf charged in the centre.|
|Designed by||George F. G. Stanley, John Matheson|
The National Flag of Canada, also known as the Maple Leaf and l'Unifolié (French for "the one-leafed"), is a flag consisting of a red field with a white square at its centre, in the middle of which is featured a stylized, 11-pointed, red maple leaf. Adopted in 1965 to replace the Union Flag, it is the first ever specified by statute law for use as the country's national flag. The Canadian Red Ensign had been unofficially used since the 1890s and was approved by a 1945 Order in Council for use "wherever place or occasion may make it desirable to fly a distinctive Canadian flag".
In 1964, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson appointed a committee to resolve the issue, sparking a serious debate about a flag change. Out of three choices, the maple leaf design by George Stanley and John Matheson, based on the flag of the Royal Military College of Canada, was selected. The flag made its first official appearance on February 15, 1965; the date is now celebrated annually as National Flag of Canada Day.
Many different flags have been created for use by Canadian officials, government bodies, and military forces. Most of these flags contain the maple leaf motif in some fashion, either by having the Canadian flag charged in the canton, or by including maple leaves in the design. The Royal Union Flag is also an official flag in Canada.
The flag is horizontally symmetric and therefore the obverse and reverse sides appear identical.
The width of the Maple Leaf flag is twice the height. The white field is a Canadian pale (a square central band in a vertical triband flag, named after this flag), and each bordering red field is exactly half its size. In the centre of the white field is a red maple leaf. In heraldry, the flag has been blazoned as "Gules on a Canadian pale argent a maple leaf of the first." The blazon was registered with the Canadian Heraldic Authority on March 15, 2005.
The maple leaf has served as a symbol celebrating the nature and environment of what is now Canada since the 18th century. The number of points on the leaf has no significance; the number and arrangement of the points were chosen after wind tunnel tests showed the current design to be the least blurry of the various designs when tested under high wind conditions. The image of the maple leaf used on the flag was designed by Jacques Saint-Cyr; however, Jack Cook claims that this stylized eleven-point maple leaf was lifted from a copyrighted design owned by a Canadian craft shop in Ottawa. In 1921, King George V proclaimed the official national colours of Canada as red, from Saint George's Cross, and white, from the French royal emblem since King Charles VII.
- FIP red: General Printing Ink, No. 0-712;
- Inmont Canada Ltd., No. 4T51577;
- Monarch Inks, No. 62539/0
- Rieger Inks, No. 25564
- Sinclair and Valentine, No. RL163929/0.
The colours 0/100/100/0 in the CMYK process, PMS 032 (flag red 100%), or PMS 485 (used for screens) in the Pantone colour specifier can be used when reproducing the flag. For the Federal Identity Program, the red tone of the standard flag has a hexadecimal value of #FF0000, and a RGB value of 255-0-0. In 1984, the National Flag of Canada Manufacturing Standards Act was passed to unify the standards used for flying the flag both indoors and outdoors.
The first flag known to have flown in Canada was the St George's Cross carried by John Cabot when he reached Newfoundland in 1497. In 1534, Jacques Cartier planted a cross in Gaspé bearing the French royal coat of arms with the fleurs-de-lis. His ship flew a red flag with a white cross, the national flag of France at the time. New France continued to fly the evolving French military flags of that period.
As the de jure national flag of the United Kingdom, the Union Flag (commonly known as the Union Jack and, by law, called the Royal Union Flag in Canada since 1964) was used similarly in Canada since the 1621 British settlement in Nova Scotia. Its use continued after Canada's legislative independence from the United Kingdom in 1931 until the adoption of the current flag in 1965.
Shortly after Canadian Confederation in 1867, the need for distinctive Canadian flags emerged. The first Canadian flag was that then used as the flag of the Governor General of Canada, a Union Flag with a shield in the centre bearing the quartered arms of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick surrounded by a wreath of maple leaves. In 1870 the Red Ensign, with the addition of the Canadian composite shield in the fly, began to be used unofficially on land and sea and was known as the Canadian Red Ensign. As new provinces joined the Confederation, their arms were added to the shield. In 1892, the British admiralty approved the use of the Red Ensign for Canadian use at sea. The composite shield was replaced with the coat of arms of Canada upon its grant in 1921 and, in 1924, an Order in Council approved its use for Canadian government buildings abroad. In 1925, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King established a committee to design a flag to be used at home, but it was dissolved before the final report could be delivered. Despite the failure of the committee to solve the issue, public sentiment in the 1920s was in favour of fixing the flag problem for Canada. New designs were proposed in 1927, 1931, and 1939.
During the Second World War, the Red Ensign was the national flag Canadian troops carried into battle. A joint committee of the Senate and House of Commons was appointed on November 8, 1945, to recommend a national flag to officially adopt. By May 9 the following year, 2,695 designs were submitted and the committee reported back with a recommendation "that the national flag of Canada should be the Canadian red ensign with a maple leaf in autumn golden colours in a bordered background of white". The Legislative Assembly of Quebec, however, had urged the committee to not include any of what it deemed as "foreign symbols", including the Union Flag, and Mackenzie King, then still prime minister, declined to act on the report, leaving the order to fly the Canadian Red Ensign in place.
By the 1960s, however, debate for an official Canadian flag intensified and became a subject of controversy, culminating in the Great Flag Debate of 1964. In 1963, the minority Liberal government of Lester B. Pearson gained power and decided to adopt an official Canadian flag through parliamentary debate. The principal political proponent of the change was Prime Minister Lester Pearson. He had been a significant broker during the Suez Crisis of 1956, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. During the crisis, Pearson was disturbed when the Egyptian government objected to Canadian peacekeeping forces on the grounds that the Canadian flag (the Red Ensign) contained the same symbol (the Union Flag) also used as a flag by the United Kingdom, one of the belligerents. Pearson's goal was for the Canadian flag to be distinctive and unmistakably Canadian. The main opponent to changing the flag was the leader of the opposition and former prime minister, John Diefenbaker, who eventually made the subject a personal crusade.
Pearson was leader of a minority government and risked losing power over the issue; however, he knew the Red Ensign with the Union Jack was unpopular in Quebec, a base of support for his Liberal Party, but the Red Ensign was strongly favoured by English Canada. On May 27, 1964, Pearson's minority government introduced a motion to parliament for adoption of his favourite design of a "sea to sea" (Canada's motto) flag with blue borders and three conjoined red maple leaves on a white field. This motion led to weeks of acrimonious debate in the House of Commons and the design came to be known as the "Pearson Pennant". Diefenbaker demanded a referendum be held on the flag issue, but Pearson instead formed a 15-member multi-party parliamentary committee to select a new design.
Through a period of study with political manoeuvring, the committee chose the current design, which was created by George Stanley and inspired by the flag of the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario; a plaque there marks his moment of inspiration. The design was approved unanimously by the committee on October 29, 1964, and later passed by a majority vote in the House of Commons on December 15, 1964. The Senate added its approval two days later.
Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, proclaimed the new flag on January 28, 1965. It was inaugurated on February 15 of the same year at an official ceremony held on Parliament Hill in Ottawa in the presence of Governor General Major-General Georges Vanier, the Prime Minister, the members of the Cabinet, and Canadian parliamentarians. The Canadian Red Ensign was lowered at the stroke of noon and the new Maple Leaf flag was raised. The crowd sang "O Canada" followed by "God Save the Queen". Maurice Bourget, Speaker of the Senate, said "The flag is the symbol of the nation's unity, for it, beyond any doubt, represents all the citizens of Canada without distinction of race, language, belief, or opinion." For the nation's centennial celebrations in 1967, the Canadian government used a flag bearing the Royal Arms of Canada (whose shield was used on the Red Ensign) on a red field.
1957 version of the Canadian Red Ensign that had evolved as the de facto national flag until 1965
After the resolutions proposing a new national flag for Canada were passed by the two houses of parliament, a proclamation was drawn up for signature by the Canadian queen. This was created in the form of an illuminated document on vellum, with calligraphy by Yvonne Diceman and heraldic illustrations. The text was rendered in black ink, using a quill, while the heraldic elements were painted in gouache with gilt highlights. The Great Seal of Canada was applied in wax over a silk ribbon.
This parchment was signed discreetly by the calligrapher, but was made official by the autographs of Queen Elizabeth II, Prime Minister Lester Pearson, and Attorney General Guy Favreau. In order to obtain these signatures, the document was flown to the United Kingdom (for the Queen's royal sign-manual) and to the Caribbean (for the signature of Favreau, who was on vacation). This transport to different climates, combined with the quality of the materials with which the proclamation was created, and the subsequent storage and repair methods (including the use of Scotch Tape) contributed to the deterioration of the document, leading to its restoration in the 1990s. The proclamation is today stored in a temperature and humidity controlled, sealed case.
Alternative flags 
As a symbol of the nation's membership in the Commonwealth of Nations, the Royal Union Flag is an official Canadian flag and is flown on certain occasions. Regulations require federal installations to fly the Royal Union Flag beside the Maple Leaf when physically possible, using a second flagpole, on the following days: Commonwealth Day (the second Monday in March), Victoria Day (which is also the sovereign's official birthday in Canada), and the anniversary of the Statute of Westminster (December 11). The Royal Union Flag can also be flown at the National War Memorial or at other locations during ceremonies that honour Canadian involvement with forces of other Commonwealth nations during times of war. The Maple Leaf flag always precedes the Royal Union Flag, with the former occupying the place of honour. The Royal Union Flag is also part of the provincial flags of Ontario and Manitoba, forming the canton of these flags; a stylized version is used on the flag of British Columbia and the flag of Newfoundland and Labrador. Several of the provincial lieutenant governors formerly used a modified Union Flag as their personal standard, but the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia is the only one who retains this design. The Royal Union Flag and Canadian Red Ensign are still flown in Canada by veterans' groups and others who continue to stress the importance of Canada's British heritage and the Commonwealth connection.
The Red Ensign is occasionally still used as well, including official use at some ceremonies. It was flown at the commemorations of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in 2007. This decision elicited criticism from those who believe it should not be given equal status to the Canadian flag and received praise from people who believe that it is important to retain the ties to Canada's past.
The Canadian Duality Flag is an independently developed unofficial flag originally circulated by its promoters to demonstrate the unity of Canada at rallies for the no side during the lead-up to the 1995 Quebec referendum. Though the white in the official design is derived from French royal symbolism, the Duality Flag adds to the red sections stripes of blue roughly in proportion to the number of Canadians who are primarily French-speaking. The blue was chosen because it is the main colour that is used on the flag of Quebec.
In Quebec, the provincial flag (a white cross on a field of blue with four fleurs-de-lis) is often considered a national flag along with the Maple Leaf flag, as is the Acadian flag in the Acadian regions of the Maritime provinces. As is the flag of Labrador, the Iroquois Nation, the Metis Nation, and a list of other groups.
No law dictates the proper use of the Canadian flag. However, Canadian Heritage has released guidelines on how to correctly display the flag alone and with other flags. The guidelines deal with the order of precedence in which the Canadian flag is placed, where the flag can be used, how it is used, and what people should do to honour the flag. The suggestions, titled Flag Etiquette in Canada, were published by Canadian Heritage in book and online formats and last updated in August 2011. The flag itself can be displayed on any day at buildings operated by the Government of Canada, airports, military bases, and diplomatic offices, as well as by citizens, during any time of the day. When flying the flag, it must be flown using its own pole and must not be inferior to other flags, save for, in descending order, the Queen's personal standard, the governor general's standard, any of the personal standards of members of the Canadian Royal Family, or flags of the lieutenant governors. The Canadian flag is flown at half-mast in Canada to indicate a period of mourning. Canadian Forces does have a special protocol for folding the Canadian flag for presentations, such as during a funeral ceremony; however, CF does not recommend this method for everyday use.
Promoting the flag 
Since the adoption of the Canadian flag in 1965, the Canadian government has sponsored programs to promote it. Examples include the Canadian Parliamentary Flag Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage and the flag program run by the Department of Public Works. These programs increased the exposure of the flag and the concept that it was part of the national identity. To increase awareness of the new flag, the Parliamentary Flag Program was set up in December 1972 by the Cabinet. The purpose of this program was to allow members of the Canadian House of Commons to distribute flags and lapel pins in the shape of the Canadian flag to their constituents. The program has been in operation since 1973. Flags that are flown from the Peace Tower and the East and West blocks of Parliament Hill are packaged by the Department of Public Works and can be obtained free of charge. However, the program has a 23-year waiting list for East and West block flags, and a 35-year waiting list for Peace Tower flags.
Since 1996, February 15 has been commemorated as National Flag of Canada Day. In 1996, Minister of Canadian Heritage Sheila Copps instituted the One in a Million National Flag Challenge. This program was intended to provide Canadians with a million new Maple Leaf flags in time for Flag Day, 1997. The program was controversial because it cost some $45 million, and provided no means to hoist or fly the flags. The official numbers from Canadian Heritage put the expenses at $15.5 million, with approximately a seventh of the cost offset by donations.
A plaque commemorating the creation of the Canadian flag was installed by the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) in Kingston, Ontario, circa 1985. Near the Parade Square, in March 1964, while viewing the College flag atop Mackenzie Building, George Stanley, then Dean of Arts at RMC, first suggested to J.R. Matheson, then Member of Parliament for Leeds, that the RMC flag should form the basis of the national flag. The two collaborated on a design that was ultimately approved by parliament and by royal proclamation adopted as the national flag of Canada as of February 15, 1965.
See also 
- Arms of Canada
- National Flag of Canada Day
- List of Canadian provincial and territorial symbols
- Canada at Wikipedia books
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Flags of Canada|
- National Flag of Canada (Department of Canadian Heritage)
- George F.G. Stanley's Flag Memorandum to John Matheson, 23 March 1964 (includes Dr. Stanley's original sketches for the Canadian Flag)
- John Matheson's postcard to George Stanley, December 15, 1964, 2:00 AM, announcing the House of Commons' approval of the new Canadian Flag
- Royal Proclamation
- The Canadian Heraldic Authority, The Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Confirmation of the blazon of a Flag, March 20, 2006, Vol. V, p. 261: Proposed Flag for Canada, George Stanley, March 1964; Letters Patent confirming the blazon of the Proposed Flag: George Stanley, 1964
- Flag Etiquette in Canada
- Canada at Flags of the World
- CBC Digital Archives – The Great Canadian Flag Debate
- "National Flag of Canada". Historica Minute.