The Canadian Maple Leaf

The Canadian Maple Leaf

I received this pin from Ron Eberhardt, now retired from TxDot. He got this pin at a professional meeting.

The Union Jack used to be the flag of Canada, as I mentioned in a post about US-Canadian flags.

The National Flag of Canada, also known as the Maple Leaf and l’Unifolié (French for “the one-leafed”), is a flag consisting of a red field with a white square at its center, in the middle of which is featured a stylized, 11-pointed, red maple leaf. Adopted in 1965 to replace the Union Flag, it is the first ever specified by statute law for use as the country’s national flag. The Canadian Red Ensign had been unofficially used since the 1890s and was approved by a 1945 Order in Council for use “wherever place or occasion may make it desirable to fly a distinctive Canadian flag”.

In 1964, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson formed a committee to resolve the issue, sparking a serious debate about a flag change. Out of three choices, the maple leaf design by George Stanley, based on the flag of the Royal Military College of Canada, was selected. The flag made its first official appearance on February 15, 1965; the date is now celebrated annually as National Flag of Canada Day.

Many different flags have been created for use by Canadian officials, government bodies, and military forces. Most of these flags contain the maple leaf motif in some fashion, either by having the Canadian flag charged in the canton, or by including maple leaves in the design. The Royal Union Flag is also an official flag in Canada.

After the resolutions proposing a new national flag for Canada were passed by the two houses of parliament, a proclamation was drawn up for signature by the Canadian queen. This was created in the form of an illuminated document on vellum, with calligraphy by Yvonne Diceman and heraldic illustrations. The text was rendered in black ink, using a quill, while the heraldic elements were painted in gouache with gilt highlights. The Great Seal of Canada was applied in wax over a silk ribbon.

This parchment was signed discreetly by the calligrapher, but was made official by the autographs of Queen Elizabeth II, Prime Minister Lester Pearson, and Attorney General Guy Favreau. In order to obtain these signatures, the document was flown to the United Kingdom (for the Queen’s royal sign-manual) and to the Caribbean (for the signature of Favreau, who was on vacation). This transport to different climates, combined with the quality of the materials with which the proclamation was created, and the subsequent storage and repair methods (including the use of Scotch Tape) contributed to the deterioration of the document, leading to its restoration in the 1990s. The proclamation is today stored in a temperature and humidity controlled, sealed case.

In my own view, the maple leaf was picked to allow Canadians to distance themselves from UK rule, and in particular to mollify Quebecois who have nothing, it seems, but disdain for anything British.

As I write this the Scots are voting on whether to become independent from the U.K. Well, the old Union Jack continues to be under attack.

Location: 10-E3

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