OTTAWA – “The creation of our national flag 50 years ago was a defining moment for Canada. Today, our flag is recognized internationally as a symbol of unity, peace and freedom and is source of pride for all Canadians. As we approachCanada’s 150th birthday in 2017, our Government is proud to honour the historic sites, persons and events that have shaped Canada into the strong, proud and free country that it is today,” says Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada.
The Canadian flag – the iconic red and white with a single maple leaf at its heart – is a symbol of Canadian unity and an internationally recognized symbol of our country. Today, on the 50th anniversary of the very first time the Canadian flag was flown over Parliament Hill, the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, announced the designation of the creation of the national flag as a national historic event, on the recommendation of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada.
Though previous proposals for a new national flag for Canada, dating back as early as 1925, were unsuccessful, a 15-member, all-party, Senate and House of Commons Committee was formed in 1964 to again study the issue in anticipation of the 1967 centennial of Confederation. After many weeks of work and consideration, the final design of the maple leaf flag we all know today was approved by the House of Commons and the Senate and proclaimed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada.
Fifty years ago, the national flag was first flown at an official ceremony on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on February 15, 1965. At the stroke of noon – with the Governor General, the Prime Minister, Parliamentarians and thousands of Canadians in attendance – the new flag was raised while the crowd sang O Canada.
As our country nears its 150th birthday in 2017, the Government of Canada invites Canadians to learn more about the important sites, persons and events that have shaped their country’s history. Canada’s national historic designations enable us to experience our rich history and heritage in a special way and play a big part in the celebration of Canada150.
- From about 1870, various forms of the Canadian Red Ensign were used on land and sea as Canada’s unofficial flag but were never officially adopted as the national flag. Until the adoption of the present national flag, Britain’s Royal Unionflag (Union Jack) was the only official national flag of Canada.
- In 1964, the all-party Parliamentary committee considered nearly 2,000 designs over the course of six weeks before ultimately recommending the single leaf, red-and-white design proposed by Canadian historian George F.G. Stanley.
- The design of the national flag pays homage to Canada’s natural and cultural history through the use of the maple leaf and Canada’s national red and white colours.
- Red and white were proclaimed Canada’s national colours by King George V in 1921.
- The maple leaf, as found on the national flag, is a stylized design. The symbolism lies in the maple leaf itself, which is the traditional emblem of Canada. There is no special significance to the eleven points.