North America > Canada Flag

Canada Flags


Northern America

Country Flags by Continent

The National Flag of Canada, also known as the Maple Leaf, and l'Unifolié (French for "the one-leafed"), is a red flag with a white square in its centre, featuring a stylized 11-pointed red maple leaf. Its adoption in 1965 marked the first time a national flag had been officially adopted in Canada to replace the Union 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 appointed a committee to resolve the issue, sparking a serious debate about a flag change. Out of three choices, the maple leaf design by George F. G. Stanley and John Matheson based on the flag of the Royal Military College of Canada was selected. The flag made its first 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, used as a symbol of Canada's membership in the Commonwealth of Nations, and of its allegiance to the Crown. The Union Flag remains a component of other Canadian flags, including the provincial flags of British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario.

The Current Canadian Flag

The Maple Leaf flag

The Canadian National Flag was adopted by the Canadian Parliament on October 22, 1964 and was proclaimed into law by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (the Queen of Canada) on February 15, 1965 [the certification of Parliament's decision was made on Jan. 28, 1965, Feb. 15 being the 'in force' date]. The Canadian Flag (colloquially known as The Maple Leaf Flag) is a red flag of the proportions two by length and one by width, containing in its centre a white square, with a single red stylized eleven-point maple leaf centred in the white square.

The colours red and white used in the Canadian flag are the same as those colours used in the Union Flag (of the UK). Red and white are the national colours of Canada since 1921 (when they were proclaimed by King George V on the recommendation of the Canadian Government). The heraldic description of the Canadian National Flag is: Gules on a Canadian pale argent a maple leaf of the first.

Philatelists will note the issue of a Canadian stamp commemorating the 30th. Anniversary of the National flag on May 1, 1995.

Sources (of this item and the following ones):
Department of the Secretary of State of Canada, The Arms, Flag and Emblems of Canada, 1984
Department of the Secretary of State for Canada, Canada: Symbols of Nationhood, 1988
Bruce Peel "Emblems of Canada: Flag" The Canadian Encyclopedia, Hurtig Publishers: Edmonton, 1988.
Peter Cawley - 25 May 1995

There are standards available from the Standards Council of Canada for making the National Flag of Canada from fabric.

CAN/CGSB-98.3-M91 National Flag of Canada (One-Event-Only Use)
CAN/CGSB-98.2-92 National Flag of Canada (Indoor Use)
CAN/CGSB-98.1-92 National Flag of Canada (Outdoor Use)