The Canadian Flag, sometimes referred to as the “Maple Leaf”, is a true symbol of Canada and shows how we love our land by having a maple leaf on the flag. The colours of the flag are the official national colours of Canada, red and white. King George V appointed them in 1921.
The Maple Leaf wasn’t the only flag Canada had. Prior to the Maple Leaf there was the St. George’s cross. The St. Georges Cross was an English Flag of the 15th century. It was flown over Canada when John Cabot reached the east coast of Canada in 1497. Thirty-seven years later, the fleur-de-lis was planted on Canadian Soil when Jacques Cartier landed here and claimed the land for the King of France. The flag was flown until the early 1760’s, when Canada was ceded to the United Kingdom. The Royal Union flag (with the Crosses of St. George’s and St. Andrew’s flags) replaced the fleur-de-lis after 1759.
The search for a new flag begun in 1925, when a committee of Privy Council begun to research possible designs for a national flag. In 1946, a select parliamentary committee called for submissions of designs and they received over 2000, but the Parliament never voted on a design. Early in 1964, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson informed the House of Commons that the government wished to adopt a national flag. In October 1964, after eliminating different designs. The committee was left with three designs, a red ensign with the fleur-de-lis and the Union Jack, a design with three red maple leafs, and a red flag with a single maple leaf on a white square in the middle. Pearson preferred a design with three red maple leafs between two blue boarders.
Alan Beddoe, a retired navel captain, and Colonel Fortescue Duguid were two heraldry experts, who both favoured the three leaf design, and played decisive roles in the choice of our flag. Dr. George Stanley was Dean of Arts at the Royal Military College in Kingston, and brought to the attention of the committee the fact that the Commandants flag at the College – a maple on a red and white ground – was quite attractive. The combination of red and white appeared in the General Service Medal issued by Queen Victoria. Red and white were subsequently proclaimed Canada’s National colours by King George V in 1921.
A key element of the National Flag is the stylized maple leaf; Mr. Jacques St. designed it. The proportions of the flag were outlined by Mr. George Bist, a World War II veteran, and precise coloration of the flag defined by Dr. Gunter Wysze. The final determination of all aspects of the new flag was made by a 15- member parliamentary committee, which is officially credited with the design.
The committee decided to recommend the single leaf design, which was approved by revolution of the House of Commons on December 15, 1964, followed by the Senate on December 17, 1964, and proclaimed by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, to take effect on February 15, 1965.
The Maple Leaf Flag was raised for the first time at noon, on February 15, 1965 on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. The ceremonies were played many times across the Country. Canadians gathered all around to watch this moment of history.