|George Francis Gillman Stanley|
July 6, 1907|
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
|Died||September 13, 2002
Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada
|Buried at||Sackville Cemetery|
|Awards||CC, CD, KStJ, DPhil, DLitt, FRSC, FRHistS, FRHSC (hon.)|
|Other work||historian, author, soldier, teacher, public servant|
Colonel George Francis Gillman Stanley, CC, CD, KStJ, DPhil, DLitt, FRSC, FRHistS, FRHSC (hon.) (July 6, 1907 – September 13, 2002) was a Canadian historian, author, soldier, teacher, public servant, and designer of the current Canadian flag.
George F.G. Stanley was born in Calgary, Alberta and received a BA from the University of Alberta in Edmonton. He went to Keble College, University of Oxford, in 1929 as the Rhodes Scholar from Alberta, and earned a BA, MA, MLitt and DPhil; he also played for the Oxford University Ice Hockey Club, which won the Spengler Cup in 1931. At Oxford, he wrote his ground-breaking book, The Birth Of Western Canada: A History Of The Riel Rebellions, and began his lifelong work on Louis Riel.
Stanley returned to Canada in 1936 and was appointed a professor of history at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick. He joined the Canadian Army upon arriving there. During World War II, he served as a historian in the Historical Section at Canadian Army Headquarters in London; he was also responsible for administering the War Artist Program, whose staff included Bruno Bobak, Molly Lamb Bobak, Alex Colville, Charles Comfort, Lawren P. Harris and Will Ogilvie. Stanley was discharged as a Lieutenant-Colonel in 1947. He then taught at the University of British Columbia, holding the first ever chair in Canadian history in Canada. In 1949, Stanley went to teach at the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC), where he remained for twenty years. At RMC, he served as the first Dean of Arts for seven years and had the rare opportunity to build ab initio an outstanding faculty in the humanities and social sciences. His students included John de Chastelain, Jack Granatstein, and Desmond Morton. Thanks in part to Stanley's efforts as RMC Dean of Arts, the Royal Military College of Canada Pipes and Drums were equipped with most of their highland kit, including the Mackenzie tartan in 1965. In 1969, Stanley returned to Mount Allison University to become director of the new Canadian Studies program, the first of its kind in Canada. He retired from teaching in 1975, but continued to write and remained active in public life well into his nineties. He is buried in Sackville, New Brunswick.
The historian, R.C. [Rod] Macleod of the University of Alberta, has written that: “Much of English Canada’s understanding of the formative years of the Canadian West comes from George Stanley’s remarkable work, The Birth of Western Canada. Considering that it was one of the earliest works by an academically trained historian in this country, it has stood the test of time remarkably well. No other work of Canadian history published before the Second World War is as regularly read by historians, students and the general public…. [This] subject will always be identified with his name.”
In 1982, he became the 25th Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick since Confederation and served in this capacity until 1987. The mid-1980s were a festive time as New Brunswickers marked their province's bicentennial. During those years, eminent visitors from around the world, such as Queen Elizabeth II and Pope John Paul II, also came to help New Brunswick celebrate. The Stanleys, with their strong sense of tradition and their comfortable manner with people from all walks of life, proved well suited to this viceregal role.
In 1946, George Stanley married Ruth L. Hill, ONB, BCL, LLD, a Montreal lawyer (she was gold medalist in law at McGill University). They had three daughters: Dr. Della M.M. Stanley [The Hon. Thomas Cromwell], Professor Marietta R.E. Stanley (1952–2008) [formerly married to Maurice McAtamney], and Dr. Laurie C.C. Stanley-Blackwell [John D. Blackwell]. The Stanleys also have two grandchildren: Thomas E.G.S. Cromwell [Megan Ormshaw] and Ruth L.H.Q. Stanley-Blackwell.
In 1976, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada and was promoted to Companion in 1994. He also received a Knight of Justice of the Order of St. John, the Canadian Forces Decoration and twelve honorary degrees, as well as his five earned degrees. He was a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (FRSC) and of the Royal Historical Society (FRHistS). In 1983, he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Heraldry Society of Canada (FRHSC). In 1950, he was awarded the Royal Society of Canada's J. B. Tyrrell Historical Medal. In 1955, he was elected president of the Canadian Historical Association; his landmark presidential address, entitled "Act or Pact? Another Look at Confederation," has been frequently reprinted and remains a core reading for students of Canadian history.
Involvement with the Canadian Flag
On March 23, 1964, Stanley wrote a formal four-page memorandum to John Matheson, a prominent member of the multi-party parliamentary flag committee, suggesting that the new flag of Canada should be instantly recognizable, and simple enough so that school children could draw it. He included a rough sketch of his design in the memorandum.
Stanley had become friends with Matheson in Kingston, Ontario, where their children learned Scottish dancing together. Two months before the Great Flag Debate erupted on May 17, 1964 with Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson's courageous—or strategic—speech at the Royal Canadian Legion's national convention in Winnipeg, Matheson had paid a visit to Stanley at Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) in Kingston. Over lunch at the RMC mess hall, the two discussed heraldry, the history and the future of Canada, and the conundrum of the flag. And as the two men walked across the parade grounds, Stanley gestured toward the roof of the Mackenzie Building and the college flag flapping atop its tower.
"There, John, is your flag," Stanley remarked, suggesting the RMC College Flag's red-white-red as a good basis for a distinctive Canadian flag. At the centre, Stanley proposed, should be placed a single red maple leaf instead of the college emblem: a mailed fist holding a sprig of three green maple leaves.
The suggestion was followed by Stanley's detailed memorandum on the history of Canada's emblems, in which he warned that any new flag "must avoid the use of national or racial symbols that are of a divisive nature" and that it would be "clearly inadvisable" to create a flag that carried either a Union Jack or a Fleur-de-lis. Stanley wrote the pivotal flag memorandum in his study at Cluny House, Pittsburgh Township, just east of Kingston; this fine stone residence was built in 1820 by Colonel Donald Macpherson (c.1755-1829), maternal uncle of Sir John A. Macdonald.
The Stanley proposal was placed on a wall in Ottawa with literally hundreds of other flag designs, and eventually was selected as one of the final three designs for consideration. Through some clever political moves by the Liberal members of the committee, it beat out John Diefenbaker's flag (a combination of fleurs-de-lis, a maple leaf and the Union Flag), as well as the Pearson Pennant (three red leaves conjoined on a stem set against a white background with blue bars on either side).
Stanley's design was slightly modified by Jacques Saint-Cyr, a graphic artist with the Canadian Government Exhibition Commission (and ironically a Quebec sovereigntist), who gave the flag its current look. It was officially adopted as the flag of Canada (replacing the Canadian Red Ensign) by the House of Commons on December 15, 1964 and by the Senate on December 17, 1964, and proclaimed by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II, taking effect on February 15, 1965.
Support for the new flag grew quickly, including in Quebec. As Matheson observed in his book Canada's Flag, "when in June 1965, Dr. George F.G. Stanley of [the] Royal Military College ... was granted an honorary doctorate at Université Laval, he was loudly applauded by the student body when the Canadian flag was referred to in his citation. The applause interrupted the citation." French-Canadian nationalists had long demanded that the Union Jack (Union Flag) be removed from any future Canadian flag.
Some debate lingered over whether Stanley or Saint-Cyr should get credit for the flag, but it was settled in 1995 when Prime Minister Jean Chrétien officially recognized Stanley as the father of Canada's flag. Stanley also suggested the name for the Canadian pale, an original vexillological and heraldic device first used in the Maple Leaf flag.
A plaque at the Royal Military College reads "Near this Parade Square, in March 1964, while viewing the College Flag atop Mackenzie Building, Col the Hon. G.F.G Stanley, then Dean of Arts RMC, first suggested to Col. the Hon. J.R. Matheson, then MP for Leeds, that the RMC College Flag should form the basis of the National Flag. The two collaborated on a design which was ultimately approved by Parliament and by Royal Proclamation adopted as the National Flag of Canada as of the 15th of February 1965." 
- The Birth Of Western Canada: A History of The Riel Rebellions (1936) Reprint (1992) U. of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-8020-6931-2
- Canada's Soldiers, 1604-1954: The Military History of An Unmilitary People (1954) Macmillan, Toronto.
- Louis Riel, Patriot or Rebel? (1954) Canadian Historical Association.
- In Search of the Magnetic North: A Soldier-surveyor's Letters from the North-west, 1843-1844 (1955) Toronto, Macmillan.
- In the Face of Danger: The History of the Lake Superior Regiment (1960)
- For Want of a Horse: Being a Journal of the Campaigns against the Americans in 1776 and 1777 conducted from Canada (1961) Tribune Press.
- Louis Riel (1963). Ryerson Press. 1st Paperback Edition, 1972. 5th Printing 1969. ISBN 0-07-092961-0.
- The Story of Canada's Flag: A Historical Sketch (1965) Ryerson Press.
- New France: The Last Phase, 1744-1760 (1968) McClelland and Stewart.
- A Short History of the Canadian Constitution (1969) Ryerson Press.
- The War of 1812: Land Operations (1983) Macmillan of Canada. ISBN 0-7715-9859-9
- The Collected Writings Of Louis Riel/Les Ecrits Complets de Louis Riel (1985) University of Alberta Press. (Text in French and English) ISBN 0-88864-091-9
- Toil And Trouble: Military Expeditions To Red River (1989) Dundurn Press Ltd. ISBN 1-55002-059-5
- Battle in the Dark: Stoney Creek, June 6, 1813 (1991). ISBN 0-919511-46-6
- The Role of the Lieutenant-Governor: A Seminar (1992).
- Sackville Cemetery, Sackville, New Brunswick
- Dr. Laurie Stanley-Blackwell, Professor of History, St. Francis Xavier University
- Act or Pact? Another Look at Confederation
- Full text of George Stanley's Flag Memorandum
- Mackenzie Building, Royal Military College, Kingston
- Biography of Col. Donald Macpherson (c.1755-1829), Dictionary of Canadian Biography
- Archbold, Rick. I Stand for Canada: The Story of the Maple Leaf Flag. Toronto: Macfarlane Walter & Ross, 2002, p. 103.
- Father of Canada's Flag.
- "Canadian Heritage Flags". Canadianheritage.gc.ca. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
- Col. the Hon. George F.G. Stanley (1907-2002): A Bio-Bibliographical Website
- Order of Canada citations for Dr. George F.G. Stanley
- The Dr. George F.G. Stanley Book Collection, University of Calgary Libraries
- The Dr. George F.G. Stanley fonds, University of Calgary Libraries
- Fonds George Francis Gillman Stanley, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa
- The Annual George F.G. Stanley Lecture in Canadian Studies, Mount Allison University
- Historical Marker Erected by the Town of Sackville, NB, 1 July 1995, to Commemorate Dr. George F.G. Stanley
- Birth of the Canadian Flag
- George F.G. Stanley The Story of Canada's Flag: A Historical Sketch (1965) Ryerson Press
- 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, 15 December 1964, 2:00 AM, announcing the House of Commons' approval of the new Canadian Flag
- 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
- Royal Proclamation of the Canadian Flag
- Flag Designer Recalls Controversy, CBC Television, 15 February 1995 (video clip)
- One Single Leaf: The Ballad of George Stanley by Lisa Lapointe (2002) - hear the song
- Dr. George F.G. Stanley's Childhood Home, 1111 7th Street S.W., Calgary, Alberta
- Plaque Unveiling at Boyhood Home of Dr. George F.G. Stanley, 15 February 2008
- National Flag of Canada Day: February 15