Friday, February 13, 2015

The Canadian Flag: a Brief History

By Katlin Davey,
UNB Arts 3000 
Public History Intern

The story of the birth of the Canadian flag is a unique one. As we approach the 50th anniversary, it is important to reflect upon the events of 1965, since a national flag contributes to the making of a national identity. For Canadians without a memory of the Red Ensign, it is hard to imagine a Canada that was not shaped by the Maple Leaf. Adopting a new Canadian flag, however, was no easy mission. Many Canadians supported moving forward with a new flag, while many did not. The process to develop a new national flag began in early 1964, and on February 15th 1965 a new Canada was born.

Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson was a strong supporter of the development of a new national flag. While the Red Ensign had served the purpose of a national flag for many years, he believed that Canada had matured as a country and so needed to be redefined as well as reunited. Prime Minister Pearson understood that the creation of a new flag should be a bipartisan effort, so a bipartisan committee was created. As a result, a call for open submissions was issued, and people from all over Canada submitted their ideas about what the new national flag should look like. Over 3000 designs were submitted, and of these over 2000 contained a maple leaf. Eventually the committee narrowed down the selection to just three.