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National Flag of Canada Day

February 15th is National Flag of Canada Day!

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“The flag is the symbol of the nation’s unity, for it, beyond any doubt, represents all the citizens of Canada without distinction of race, language, belief or opinion.”

– The Honourable Maurice Bourget, Speaker of the Senate, 1965

On this day in 1965, the Canadian flag was raised for the first time on Parliament Hill.

When Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson commissioned the design of a new flag for Canada in 1964, there were three proposed ideas. In the end, the red flag with a single stylized red maple leaf on a white square was chosen. After some artistic modifications, it became the flag that we have now had for 52 years.

PAST CANADIAN FLAGS

2017 may only be the 52nd anniversary of the current flag, but it’s also Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation. Over that time, Canadians have used a lot of different flags. However, aside from the current flag, the only other official National Flag of Canada was the Royal Union Jack.

The Royal Union Flag (1801-1965) is the only other official National Flag of Canada in the country’s history. It was widely used across British North America and in Canada, even after Confederation.

The Red Ensign (1871-1921) was commissioned to include the arms of the provinces as well as the Royal Union Flag. It was unofficially used on land and sea as Canada’s flag.

In the Canadian Red Ensign (1921-1957), the composite shield of the provinces’ arms was replaced with the shield from the Canada Coat of Arms. It was approved for use on Canadian government building abroad, and in 1945 it was authorized in federal buildings within Canada until a new national flag was adopted.

The Canadian Red Ensign (1957-1965) was slightly different from the previous version. The maple leaves on the Canada Coat of Arms were changed from green to red.

The present flag is a single, stylized red maple leaf set on a white square with a red border. It is the second official national flag in the country’s history, and has been the official flag since 1965.

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