February 15th is National Flag of Canada Day. The national flag of Canada was inaugurated on February 15, 1965. The anniversary of this date is officially called the “National Flag of Canada Day”, often shortened to “Flag Day”. The red-white-red flag with the maple leaf in the centre replaced the Canadian red ensign on that day.
George F.G. Stanley designed our current flag, which is inspired by the Royal Military College of Canada’s flag. A multi-parliamentary committee formed to select a new flag unanimously chose the design on October 29, 1964; the House of Commons passed the design on December 15, 1964. Queen Elizabeth II proclaimed the new flag on January 28, 1965, and it was inaugurated on February 15, 1965.
Our Canadian national flag, sometimes referred to as the “maple leaf flag”, is flown on many buildings, including private homes on National Flag of Canada Day. Some people wear pins in the form of the flag; schools often have special lessons on the Canadian national flag and its history around this time of year.
Special public events have been held in some years. For example, one million flags were distributed in the “One in a Million National Flag Challenge” in 1996 so Canadians could display them on Flag Day in 1997. In 2005, celebrations were held to honour the 40th anniversary of the flag’s inauguration. Some businesses gave out flags or decorated buildings with large versions of the red and white maple leaf flag.
The image of the red maple leaf is not only used on flags, but also on Canadian postage stamps and pins. Since 1973, the Parliamentary Flag Programme has operated to promote and encourage Canadians to express pride in our national symbol. It enables senators and members of the House of Commons to distribute flags and flag pins to their constituents.
You might enjoy this article about the woman who sewed our first maple leaf flag; meet Joan O’Malley!