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Canada Flag

Flag of Canada
Flag Name(s)Maple Leaf, l'Unifolié (French) [Flag Of Canada]
Aspect Ratio(1:2)
Color Schemered white
Color and Design

A vertical triband of red (hoist-side and fly-side) and white (double width) with the red maple leaf centred on the white band.

Meaning & SymbolismThe Canadian national flag consists of two colors: white and red. These are the official colors of Canada as proclaimed by King George V of Britain in 1921. Both colors have historical significance. While the white refers to the French royal emblem used in the reign of Charles VII, the red symbolizes the cross of St. George, which was the emblem of the first flag that flew in Canada. The colors red and white also meant to symbolize hope and prosperity, as well as peace, tranquility and neutrality. The maple leaf design represents the cultural heritage of the nation and the natural resources of Canada.
Description and Brief History

The national flag of Canada, which is sometimes called the “Maple Leaf" consists of a red field with a white square at its center, in the middle of which is featured a stylized, red, 11-pointed maple leaf charged in the centre. It is the first flag to have been adopted by both houses of Parliament and officially proclaimed by the Canadian monarch as the country's official national flag. The flag has become the predominant and most recognizable national symbol of Canada.

In 1964, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson formed a committee to resolve the ongoing issue of the lack of an official Canadian flag, sparking a serious debate about a flag change to replace the Union Flag. 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.

The Canadian Red Ensign was in unofficial use since the 1860s and officially approved by a 1945 Order in Council for use "wherever place or occasion may make it desirable to fly a distinctive Canadian flag". Also, the Royal Union Flag remains an official flag in Canada, to symbolize Canada's allegiance to the monarch and membership in the Commonwealth of Nations.

Why maple leaf? The maple leaf has been used as a Canadian emblem since the 18th century. It was first used as a national symbol in 1868 when it appeared on the coat of arms of both Ontario and Quebec. In 1867, Alexander Muir composed the patriotic song "The Maple Leaf Forever", which became an unofficial anthem in English-speaking Canada. The maple leaf was later added to the Canadian coat of arms in 1921. From 1876 until 1901, the leaf appeared on all Canadian coins and remained on the penny after 1901. The use of the maple leaf by the Royal Canadian Regiment as a regimental symbol extended back to 1860. During the First World War and Second World War, badges of the Canadian Forces were often based on a maple leaf design. The maple leaf would eventually adorn the tombstones of Canadian military graves.

The number of points on the leaf has no special significance; the number and arrangement of the points were chosen after wind tunnel tests showed the current design to be the least blurry of the various designs when tested under high-wind conditions. The image of the maple leaf used on the flag was designed by Jacques Saint-Cyr; Jack Cook claims that this stylized eleven-point maple leaf was lifted from a copyrighted design owned by a Canadian craft shop in Ottawa.


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