by Kevin Clasper-Inglis
On February 15th Canadians celebrated the 50th anniversary of our distinct flag. Our maple leaf has become one of the most instantly recognizable in the world. It has come to symbolize the Canada we know and love today, united through history and remarkable nation-building.
For many of us, especially young generations, the maple leaf flag is so ingrained in our identities as Canadians that it is hard to think of Canada as ever having been associated with another flag. Canada has, of course, been represented by many different flags throughout our history, from the French Fleur-de-lys to the British Union Jack. When the time came, however, for a new flag to be created post World War Two to signify Canada as its own nation and identity, agreeing on a design was no easy job.
When the decision to create a distinct Canadian flag was made, parliament approached it in a very democratic and Canadian way, requesting to Canadians to come up with their own flag designs that best represented our country. Hundreds of Canadians promptly settled down to work designing and sketching potential flag designs to send to the flag committee in Ottawa, some featuring the fleur-de-lys, the union jack or some even featuring beavers. One particular design was England’s St. George’s cross flag with the face of a different Beatles member in each quarter. The design that Prime Minister at the time, Lester B. Pearson, favoured featured three conjoined maple leafs between two bands of blue to recognize Canada’s French past. In the end, the chosen design was that of George Stanley, a prominent Canadian historian and university professor. It was the brilliantly simple flag we know today, one that did not feature any memento to our English or French past, but to our collective identity as Canadians.