There’s a whole generation or two that have only known one Canadian flag. The red and white maple leaf has been our official flag since this day, February 15, 1965. There is a source of national pride when you see it flying anywhere. Who hasn’t passed a school or a sporting event or an official building without seeing it flying proudly in the breeze.
These generations need to know that this was not always the national flag. The year 2012 is the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 with festivities happening all summer. This may be the time when these generations visit a fort or a historical monument and see a little more than just the red and white maple leaf.
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Before we adopted the maple leaf flag, the Red Ensign was the standard that flew everywhere. The symbols of Great Britain and the founding provinces appear in the shield. Unlike the maple leaf flag which was simple in design, this is a really rich, complex piece of art.
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Of course, the way of 1812 pre-dated Canada as a country. The Union Jack is the flag of Great Britain and will be very prominent at historical sites this year. In fact, during my dog walk today at the King’s Navy Yard, I saw two Union Jacks in addition to the American flag, a pure white standard, and of course the Canadian Flag flying high over them all.
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As a Boy Scout, I recall folding and breaking the flags above. The biggest learning curve is the the orientation of the Union Jack. If you look carefully, there is a right side up.
Despite this walk back through history, just take time to reflect on the fact that Canada has its official flag for 47 years. If you can remember the Red Ensign, that will date you. The Government of Canada has a complete reference section providing additional background on the flag of Canada.
- War of 1812 Website
- Ontario War of 1812 Celebrations
- Amherstburg 1812
- The Official War of 1812 Bicentennial Website
- Bicentennial of the War of 1812
- 1812 History
- The War of 1812 Chronology – Niagara
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