1965 - 2015

Canada's National Flag Turns 50 !

Canada 150

“Celebrate the Flag”
Web - www.canada.ca/flagday  - Twitter - #Flag50 
National Flag of Canada

The 50th anniversary of our national flag is the perfect time for Canadians to reflect on our flag and what it represents – a strong, proud and free country. Our national flag speaks to what we have accomplished together, to the historical moments that have served to define us and to the promising future of this great nation. Share your plans, images and stories of your Flag Day activities and celebrations on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr #Flag50.


In March of 1964 the Honourable George Stanley, who was at that time the Dean of Arts of the Royal Military College of Canada, first suggested to the Colonel, the Honourable John R. Matheson, then Member of Parliament for Leeds, that the Royal Military College flag should form the basis for the national flag of Canada. His idea was to replace the emblem of the College with a red maple leaf and the rest is history.


Photo credit: Cliff Buckman, Queen's University Archives 

The task of finding a new design for the national flag was given to a special committee comprising members from all political parties in 1964.

A Red Ensign with the fleur-de-lis and the Union Jack.
Three red maple leaves with blue borders.
A red maple leaf on a white square with red borders.

After eliminating thousands of proposals, the committee considered three final designs:

It was the red and white design with a single maple leaf that the committee recommended to Parliament. The motion was passed to adopt this design as the National Flag of Canada with a vote of 163 to 78 on December 15, 1964. The winning flag was selected for its easily recognizable design, the use of Canada’s national colours and the prominence of the maple leaf, which had become a national symbol of pride and identity.


Canada was just two years away from centennial celebrations when the maple leaf flag was made official by Royal Proclamation. “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,” declared the Speaker of the Senate at the inauguration of the new flag on Febuary 15, 1965.

Photo credit : Library and Archives Canada 


In 1996, February 15 was declared National Flag of Canada Day and has been observed ever since.

Photo credit: Canadian Heritage


The Charge, RCMP Musical Ride [Photo credit: John McQuarrie]
Changing of the Guard, Canada Day 2014 [Photo credit: Canadian Heritage]
The arrival of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in Québec City on HMCS Montréal during their Royal Tour to Canada, July 3, 2011. [Photo credit: Canadian Heritage]
Thousands of people form a living Canadian flag at the Manitoba legislature on July 1, 2011. [Photo credit: Ron Gilfillan / Downtown Biz]
Canada Day, Parliament Hill, Ottawa, 2013. [Photo credit: Canadian Heritage]
Street crowd in Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. [Photo credit: Stuart Davis]


Corporal Davin Kirwin from 1 Combat Engineer Regiment (CER), based in Canadian Forces Base of Edmonton, Alberta, bears the Canadian flag, and Corporal Brenda Cutter, from Canadian Forces Postal Unit (CFPU) based out of Ottawa, Ontario, bears the French Flag, at the base of the Vimy Ridge National Memorial Site of Canada, in France during a remembrance service on July 19, 2009. [Photo credit: Master Corporal Angela Abbey, Canadian Forces Combat Camera]
Corporal William Van Dyke with the SkyHawks demonstration team parachutes to the ground with a large Canadian Flag during the Red Friday Rally at the Northlands Race Track, Edmonton, Alberta, July 25, 2008. [Photo credit: Cpl Bill Gomm © 2008 DND-MDN Canada]
“Common Thread,” the 2013 CF-18 air demonstration Hornet, of the Royal Canadian Air Force, depicts the National Flag of Canada framed by the 13 provincial and territorial flags and symbols that are representative of Canada. This CF-18 has performed in communities across Canada to encourage each of us to think about what it means to be Canadian. [Photo credit: Mike Reyno / Skies Magazine]
Prime Minister Stephen Harper participates in Operation NANOOK 2013 just outside of Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, with members of the Canadian Rangers, August 20, 2013. [Photo credit: Prime Minister's Office. Photo by Jason Ransom]
Lieutenant (Navy) Melanie Espena, doctor for the 1st Canadian Field Hospital in Petawawa, and member of the Canadian Armed Forces Disaster Assistance Response Team, provides aid to a child in the Philippines during Operation RENAISSANCE, November 21, 2013. [Photo credit: MCpl Marc-André Gaudreault, Canadian Forces Combat Camera]
Canadian Ranger, Corporal Paul Ikuqllaq, packs his komatik before leaving on a two-week patrol to Resolute Bay, Nunavut, on April 10, 2013. [Photo credit: Cpl Pierre Létourneau, 19 Wing Imagery Comox, Department of National Defence]
Canadian Forces Joint Task Force Nijmegen 2014 teams receive a warm send-off as they depart from Camp Heumensoord on July 16, 2014, the second official day of the Nijmegen Marches. [Source: Cpl Andrew Wesley, Joint Task Force Nijmegen 2014]
Crew members on board HMCS Regina assemble to cheer on Canadian Olympic athletes in the coastal waters of the Philippines on January 31, 2014, during the ship’s deployment for Operation ARTEMIS. [Photo credit: Cpl Michael Bastien, MARPAC Imaging Services]


Canadian High Jumper and gold medalist Nicole Forrester, 2010 Commonwealth Games, New Delhi, India. [Photo credit: Canadian Press]
Canadian men’s hockey team, gold medal, 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Vancouver, British Columbia. [Photo credit: Jean Levac / Postmedia news]
Canadian women’s hockey team, gold medal, 2006 Olympic Winter Games, Turin, Italy. [Photo credit: Canadian Press]
Billy Bridges, Sledge Hockey, celebrates the gold medal performance of Team Canada at the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games, Turin, Italy. [Photo credit: Canadian Paraympic Committee]
Team Canada, Opening Ceremony, 2012 Summer Olympic Games, London, England. [Photo credit: Canadian Olympic Committee]
Crowd holding a large Canadian flag at the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship. [Photo credit: Canadian Heritage]
Gold medalist Alex Bilodeau (Freestyle Ski Moguls) celebrates with his brother Frédéric, at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, Sochi, Russia. [Photo credit: Canadian Press]
Hip-Hop dance group, Supernaturalz, representing Team Canada at the 2013 Games of La Francophonie in Nice, France. [Photo credit: Donavon Gaudette for Canadian Heritage]
Employees from the High Commission of Canada in South Africa and children from Viva Daycare in Mamelodi, Pretoria, sing Happy Birthday Madiba on Nelson Mandela International Day, July 18, 2013. [Photo credit: Bruno Engel]
Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Astronaut Chris Hadfield poses with the Canadian flag in the Cupola module of the International Space Station (ISS), December 25, 2012. [Photo credit: NASA]


Canada Day in the Capital. [Photo credit: Canadian Heritage]
Kaleb Jackson, 6, is all smiles after getting a Canadian flag painted on his face at Borden Park on Canada Day, July 1, 2013, in Edmonton, Alberta. [Photo credit: Greg Southam]
Canada Day 2011 in Montréal, Quebec. [Photo credit: Graham Hughes, Canadian Press]


Celebrate It! As we prepare for the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017, the 50th anniversary of the National Flag of Canada is a milestone that calls for celebration. Honour our flag by organizing different activities throughout the year 2015. For more information on the flag and suggestions on how to celebrate, visit us at: www.canada.ca/flagday

National Flag of Canada
Government of Canada
Credits: Story

Canada 150th — Government of Canada
Canada 150e — Gouvernement du Canada

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