O Canada! Canada celebrates the 50th anniversary of the flag

Feb 13, 2015 | News

Image Courtesy of the Government of Canada

Image Courtesy of the Government of Canada

By Ainsley Smith

On February 15, 1965, our national flag was raised for the very first time on Parliament Hill, and this Sunday will mark the 50th anniversary of our nations most iconic symbol.

Deciding on a new Canadian flag was part of a long, acrimonious debate, and half a century later it’s an occasion to reflect on how far we have come as a nation.

Sunday will mark a significant and special milestone for our country’s identity and national pride, as Canada is preparing for it’s 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017.

Birth of our flag:

Photo Cliff Buckman, courtesy Queen's University Archives.

Photo Cliff Buckman, courtesy Queen’s University Archives.

According to the Government of Canada, after the completion of the Second World War, the importance of Canada having it’s own flag became a topic of discussion.

Numerous attempts to adopt a specific design repeatedly failed as an overall consensus could not be reached.

Finally in 1964, the Canadian Government declared the creation of a distinctive Canadian flag a priority, as the 1967 centennial celebration of Confederation was quickly approaching.

When Parliament was unable to reach an agreement on the design, the task of creating a national flag was given to an all-party Parliamentary committee.

After the committee reviewed almost four thousand flag designs submitted by Canadians, they decided on three final designs. Ultimately, the final decision went to the iconic single red leaf, and red and white design.

The motion to declare this design as the national flag of Canada was determined with a vote of 163 to 78 on December 15, 1964.

The Government of Canada said the winning flag was selected for the following reasons:

  • The simplicity of the design made it easily recognizable
  • Its use of Canada’s official national colors
  • The maple leaf had become a symbol of Canadian pride and national identity
  • Canadian troops as well as Canadian athletes used the maple leaf as an emblem on their uniforms when representing Canada

“The flag is the symbol of the nation’s unity, for it, beyond any doubt, represents all the citizens of Canada without distinction of race, language, belief or opinion.”  – Honorable Maurice Bourget, Speaker of the Senate, February 15, 1965.

On February 15th 1965, for the first time in the country’s 98-year history, Canada raised it’s first national flag on Parliament Hill atop the Peace Tower in Ottawa.

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia

 What can you do to celebrate?

Toronto: Join Justin Trudeau and the Honorable Jean Chretien to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the flag at the University of Toronto campus in Mississauga.

Ottawa: Check out the ceremonial flag raising, unveiling of new collector’s commemorative stamp and coin marking the 50th anniversary of the flag and a citizenship reaffirmation.

Across Canada: The Government of Canada established the hashtag #flag50 , so Canadians can share some of their favorite moments of national pride.

Canadian’s share their favorite Canadian moments with the hashtag #flag50.