Coming up on this Canada Day, our nation’s birthday, it’s not uncommon to see what has come to be the iconic red and white Canadian flag emblazoned on hats, shirts, sandals, umbrellas and the like. Anywhere people can seem to find a place to stick a Canadian flag emblem, they seem to do so.
Canada Day is that one day of the year where Canadians dig through their closets to find their red and white gear and proudly wear it wherever they go.
For many, the flag, along with the maple leaf, is a sign of pride and national identity. Canadian troops and athletes venturing abroad have used the maple leaf and the flag on their uniforms to represent our nation for countless years.
The national flag we know today has now reached its own milestone — 50 years in existence. Believe it or not, and some of you may remember, Canada did not have its own significant flag.
Previously being used by the country as a flag was the Canadian Red Ensign, which bore the Union Jack and the shield of the Royal Arms of Canada.
We can thank former Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson for encouraging the government to adopt a distinctive Canadian Flag in order to show national unity and to have a symbol that would represent Canada on the global stage.
According to Canadian Heritage, the search for a new flag began almost 90 years ago, when a committee began to research possible designs. It wasn’t until 1946 when another parliamentary committee was formed to look for a new flag design. Submissions were called for and over 2,600 were received, but again nothing happened towards an official selection.
In 1964, Pearson encouraged the House of Commons to find a flag in time for the 1967 Centennial. Again a committee was formed, submissions were called for and three possible designs were selected.
Out of the selections, which included a design again incorporating the Red Ensign or three red maple leaves, one design was favoured; a red flag with a single red maple leaf on a white square.
After some debate, eventually the committee agreed on the single-leaf design, which was then approved by both the House of Commons and the Senate. Queen Elizabeth proclaimed the new flag to be taken into effect on Feb. 15th, 1965, where it was unveiled on Parliament Hill.
The Speaker of the Senate, Maurice Bourget, declared the flag as a symbol of Canada’s unity, which also represents the citizens of Canada, without the distinction of race, language, belief or opinion.
So this Canada Day, let’s acknowledge the half-century significance of our national flag. Wear it with pride.