Whatever happened to …

… the Canadian Red Ensign?

Happy Canada Day!

Everyone knows what the Canadian Flag is, right?  We even have the Great Canadian Flag flying at the foot of Ouellette Avenue in Windsor.


Thanks, Morguefile.com

But it wasn’t always our flag.  Before 1965, Canada’s national flag went through a number of variations.  Officially, the national flag was the Union Jack although it was more commonly seen to be the Canadian Red Ensign.


Thanks, Wikipedia – Public Domain

As a Cub Scout, I remember drawing, colouring, and understanding the Red Ensign.  There’s a lot of history buried in that flag.  The most bizarre thing, I remember at the time, was the varying widths of the white stripes.  Flags of similar design are used throughout the British Empire and in various military units.

I vaguely remember the controversy when Prime Minister Pearson set about coming up with a new flag.  Growing up in a conservative community, we were ready to leave the country if there was no blue in the winning flag.  I remember the local newspaper running a poll and the town favoured a design like the current flag only with one of the bars being blue.  Obviously, our community was wrong and it decided to stick around as part of Ontario.

Today, you can see the Red Ensign in various formats including many provincial and military flags.

Your thoughts for a Canada Day.

  • Are you old enough to remember the Canadian Red Ensign?
  • In your community, can you still see a flag based on the Red Ensign?  Where?
  • Have you ever seen a Canadian Blue Ensign?
  • What does it mean if you intentionally fly a national flag upside down?
  • What kind of flag has a gold fringe around it?
  • Can a Canadian Flag ever be flown at half mast?
  • Can a Canadian Flag even be in a position such that it touches the ground?
  • In Canada, where does the Canadian Flag appear when flown next to flags from other countries?
  • Can you fly another flag on the same lanyard as the Canadian Flag?
  • Do you know what it means to “break the flag”?  Have your ever broken one?

Can you show your Canadian Flag etiquette knowledge and protocol?

Please do so in the replies below.

1 thought on “Whatever happened to …

  1. I definitely fail on flag etiquette knowledge and protocols! I only know a bit more about the Cdn Red Ensign through teaching adult newcomers to Canada. The “Canadian Symbols” to study for citizenship includes flags, of course. Here is a copy/paste of the details:

    Flags in Canada

    A new Canadian flag was raised for the first time in 1965. The red-white-red pattern comes from the flag of the Royal Military College, Kingston, founded in 1876. Red and white had been colours of France and England since the Middle Ages and the national colours of Canada since 1921. The Union Jack is our official Royal Flag. The Canadian Red Ensign served as the Canadian flag for about 100 years. The provinces and territories also have flags that embody their distinct traditions.

    Liked by 1 person

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