Design History: The Maple Leaf

One of the most graphically stunning and recognizable flags is certainly the Canadian Maple Leaf.  But most people would be surprised to discover that this flag has only flown over Canada a relatively brief time.

Today marks just the 54 anniversary of the adoption of this current Canadian flag.  And how this flag came to be the symbol of our neighbors to the north involved a national debate that included death threats and the need for the approval and an official proclamation from the Queen of England before it could be adopted and flown by Canadian citizens.

Canadian Flag in the early 1900’s.

Canadian Flag in the early 1900’s.

The design proposed by a commission to replace the old flag.

The design proposed by a commission to replace the old flag.

Up until 1965, the flag of Canada was some variation of the British Red Ensign, a flag that displayed the Union Jack in the upper left corner, surrounded by a red field, and some symbol of the Commonwealth country displayed within.  

The Canadian government and public began demanding a new flag to show their increasing independence from Great Britain.  The French province of Quebec was particularly concerned about this process.  A 15 member commission was launch - and the resulting compromise did nothing to satisfy the public, when it recommended a minor update the the Red Ensign, that included a gold maple leaf, already a symbol of Canada.

George Stanley, and his first drawings.

George Stanley, and his first drawings.

The prime minister appointed a new committee, and among 3 designs was large maple leaf between 2 red bars, submitted by George Stanley, a military and political leader in Canada.  Support for that design building quickly among the Canadian public, and the new flag emerged to help unite the Canada, a country with 2 distinct languages and cultures.

Happy Flag Day Canada, the True North, Strong and Free!

Sean O'Bryan

Davison, Michigan estate planning attorney Sean O'Bryan has been helping families for over 25 years work through the complicated issues of trusts, wills, estate taxes, elder law and probate avoidance.  He is noted author and speaker on a variety of estate topics.  Sean is married and has 2 children, and lives on an active farm in Lapeer, Michigan with several horses, sheep, goats, chicken, dogs & cats.