Flag Day – Carrying on the tradition

Doug Johnson was not only a lifetime member of the Propeller Club in Southampton, he was also known as a flag expert with a collection of some 300 flags from around the world and was able to tell the historic significance of each.

Every February 15th, the phone would ring at 6:00 a.m. and it would be Doug.  “Do you know what today is?” he would say.  How could we forget, when for 10 years, Doug would tell us “It’s Flag Day!”

So in tribute to Doug, we are keeping the tradition going with a history of Canada’s flag because today, February 15th, is not only ‘Flag Day’, it is also the 54th anniversary of Canada’s flag.

It was on February 15, 1965, after much controversy, that the red maple leaf was hoisted in Ottawa at the Peace Tower.

The debate over a new flag divided English speaking Canadian anglophones and Imperialists who wanted to keep the Red Ensign that had been Canada’s flag since before Confederation.

Among the most vocal supporters of the Red Ensign was the Royal Canadian Legion Veterans who had gone to war under the Ensign.

                                                          Red Ensign

Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, announced the year before, in 1964, that a new national flag would be brought in during his tenure and he had two preferred choices.  Three maple leafs on a white background with a blue bar on either side and a single maple leaf with blue bars.

As the debate waged on, almost 3,000 designs with traditional ‘Canadiana’, such as beavers, mountain, Mounties and hockey players were submitted to a flag committee, until December, 2961, when the debate was closed by the government.

The winning Maple Leaf design by George F. Stanley and John Matheson was based on the flag of the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC).

The Canadian Red Ensign is still part of the Royal Canada Legion colour party and has also been officially declared to fly with the flag of Canada at the the Canadian National Vimy War Memorial in France.