|John Ross Matheson
OC CD QC FRHSC
|Member of the Canadian Parliament
May 29, 1961 – June 24, 1968
|Preceded by||Hayden Stanton|
|Succeeded by||Desmond Code|
November 14, 1917|
|Died||December 27, 2013
|Political party||Liberal Party of Canada|
|Relations||Peter Milliken (Cousin)|
|Awards||OC , CD , QC , LL.M. , LL.D.|
|Service/branch||Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, 1st Canadian Infantry Division, Royal Canadian Artillery|
He was born in Arundel, Quebec, the son of the Reverend Dr. A. Dawson Matheson and his wife Gertrude (née McCuaig). H17417 Matheson underwent training at the Royal Military College of Canada in 1936. Matheson graduated from Queen's University in 1940, winning the prestigious Tricolour Award in that year for distinguished achievement.
Matheson served as an officer with the 1st Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, 1st Canadian Infantry Division in Italy during World War II where he was wounded. He held honorary militia appointments with the 30th Field Artillery Regiment, Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery from 1972 to 1982. He later retired with the rank of Colonel.
Family and legal career
After the war, Matheson met Edith Bickley, a radiologist's assistant, in St. Anne de Bellevue Hospital in Montreal, Quebec. He said they would never have met if she hadn’t been such a curious nurse. The couple married and eventually had six children. He received a Bachelor of Laws degree from Osgoode Hall Law School, a Master of Arts degree from Mount Allison University, and a Master of Laws degree from the University of Western Ontario. He was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1948 and was created a Queen's Counsel in 1967. He practiced law with the firm of Matheson, Henderson & Hart in Brockville, Ontario. A member of the United Church of Canada, Matheson resided in Kingston, Ontario until his death in December 2013.
Matheson was a leading member of the multi-party parliamentary committee whose mandate was to select a new flag design. It was Dr. George F.G. Stanley's idea that the new flag should be red and white, and that it should feature the single maple leaf. Matheson wrote a book, Canada's Flag: A Search for a Country, about the creation of the new flag. (This book began as Matheson's master's thesis, supervised by Dr. George Stanley at Mount Allison University.) "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."
In 1968, he was appointed a judge of the Judicial District of Ottawa-Carleton. In 1984, he was appointed a judge of the County Court of Lanark. In 1985, he was appointed a judge of the District Court of Ontario. From 1990 to 1992, he was a justice of the Ontario Court of Justice (General Division).
- In 1993, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.
- In 1999, he was the inaugural recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians, awarded to a former parliamentarian "who has made an outstanding contribution to the country and its democratic institutions."
- Knight of Justice Venerable Order of Saint John
- Knight Commander of Merit Order of Saint Lazarus
- Canadian Centennial Medal (1967)
- Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal (1977)
- 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal (1992)
- Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal (2002)
- Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012)
- Canadian Forces Decoration (1977)
A small, local committee in Brockville, Ontario, is claiming that Brockville is "the birthplace of the Canadian Flag" and John Matheson "the father of the flag". Both claims are erroneous, and inspired by an effort to boost tourism dollars; the City of Brockville has since taken down its "birthplace" signs. Dr. George Stanley, Dean of Arts at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario, proposed the design for the flag, and the Great Canadian Flag Debate, which led to the adoption of the flag, took place in Ottawa. Matheson himself concluded that Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson was the real "father" of the Canadian flag.
The John Matheson Sword is awarded annually to the Preparatory Year cadet at the Royal Military College Saint-Jean who achieved the highest results in all four components of the College’s program, namely Academics, Leadership, Athletics and Bilingualism.
- Great Gunners Royal Canadian Artillery Museum http://www.rcamuseum.com/English/Great%20Gunners/matheson.htm
- John Ross Matheson - Serving His Country at Home and Abroad http://www.queensjournal.ca/story/2007-11-09/news/serving-his-country-home-and-abroad/
- Matheson, J.R. Canada's Flag: A Search for a Country, Mika Publishing Company, Belleville, Ontario, Canada, 1986
- "Canadian Heritage Flags". Canadianheritage.gc.ca. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
- Distinguished Service Award, Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians. Retrieved 2011-01-19.
- "Brockville Flag Claim Gone from Signs," Brockville Recorder and Times, 17 March 2015
- John Matheson, Canada's Flag: A Search for a Country (Boston: G.K. Hall, 1980), pp. 236-237.
- John Matheson – Parliament of Canada biography
- "Canadian Who's Who 1997 entry". University of Toronto Press.
- "Historian says Brockville's claim as birthplace of modern Canadian flag is incorrect," The Kingston Whig-Standard, 19 November 2014
- "Brockville's erroneous claims about Canadian flag," The Kingston Whig-Standard, 20 November 2014
- "Debate heats up over 'birthplace of Canadian flag' claim", Toronto Sun, 21 November 2014
- "There is no 'Father of the Flag'," The Kingston Whig-Standard, 5 December 2014
- "The maple leaf has symbolized Canada for 50 years, but its origins are still misunderstood," National Post, 15 December 2014
- "City's flag flap expands," Brockville Recorder and Times, 18 December 2014
- "Time to reject city's 'absurd' birthplace claim," Brockville Recorder and Times, 20 January 2015