Flag of Ontario

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Flag of Ontario.svg
UseCivil and state flag
AdoptedMay 21, 1965; 55 years ago (1965-05-21)
DesignA red field with the flag of the Royal Union Flag in the canton defaced with the shield of the Ontario coat of arms

The flag of Ontario is the provincial flag of Ontario, Canada. It is a defaced Red Ensign, with the Royal Union Flag in the canton and the Ontario shield of arms in the fly. The flag of Ontario was derived from the Canadian Red Ensign, which was used as a civil ensign and as a de facto flag of Canada from the late 19th century to 1965.


Before 1965, the Canadian Red Ensign had served as the de facto national flag of Canada. It was flown at all military installations in Canada and overseas, outside the legislature and government buildings, at Royal Canadian Legion halls, and many private homes.

In 1964, the federal government, after a long and acrimonious debate, adopted the Maple Leaf flag as the flag of Canada. This decision was unpopular among some Canadians.[citation needed] These included many Ontarians, particularly in rural areas that made up much of the political base of Premier John Robarts' Ontario Progressive Conservatives.

The Canadian Red Ensign

Robarts thus proposed that Ontario would have its own flag and that it would be a Red Ensign like the previous Canadian flag. It was traditional for jurisdictions around the world with a British system of government and way of life to adapt either a blue or red ensign as a flag, by adding the local coat of arms or some other symbol. In Ontario, it was logical to place the Ontario shield of arms on the flag. Robarts felt the Ensign was an important symbol that reflected Ontario's British heritage and the sacrifices made by Canadian troops under the Red Ensign. As Robarts put it, the Ontario flag "covers our history".

Canadians were exhausted by the long debate over the national flag and leaders of both the Ontario Liberal Party and the Ontario New Democratic Party supported the design for the proposed Ontario flag. The only opposition came from Sudbury Liberal Member of Provincial Parliament Elmer Sopha who was fervently opposed to the flag, arguing that it failed to reflect Ontario's diverse character and that it was "a flag of revenge" against the new national flag. However, he was joined by only one other MPP, Liberal Leo Troy, in voting against the flag, and it was passed by the Legislative Assembly on March 17. It went in effect on May 21, 1965.[1]

The flag of Ontario flying
The flag of Ontario flying

The flag of Manitoba was adopted under similar circumstances.


The flag of Ontario is a defaced Red Ensign. The flag was an adaptation of the Canadian Red Ensign, which had been the de facto national flag of Canada since 1867. The flag is a red field with the Royal Union Flag in the canton and the Ontario shield of arms in the fly. The coat of arms of Ontario had been previously granted by Royal Warrant of Queen Victoria in 1868. It features a green field with three gold maple leaves and above it, a white band with a red St. George's cross.

The specifications of the flag are 1:2. The shade of red in the flag is specified as "British Admiralty Colour Code No. T1144 for nylon worsted bunting and No. T818A for other bunting." The shield of the coat of arms is "centred in the half farthest from the staff".

In 2001, a survey conducted by the North American Vexillological Association (NAVA) placed the Ontario provincial flag 43rd in design quality out of the 72 Canadian provincial, U.S. state, and U.S. territory flags ranked.[2]

Ontario Flag Day[edit]

On May 13, 2015, the Liberal MPP from Etobicoke Centre Yvan Baker put forward the Ontario Flag Day Act, 2015. This bill, which passed the house and received royal assent on June 4 in the same year, declares May 21 every year as Ontario Flag Day.

Other flags of Ontario[edit]


  1. ^ "Emblems and Symbols". Government of Ontario. Retrieved 2007-10-02.
  2. ^ "2001 State/Provincial Flag Survey". North American Vexillological Association. 10 June 2001. Archived from the original on February 23, 2015. Retrieved 11 March 2014.

External links[edit]