That’s it!

1957 version of the Canadian Red Ensign that h...
1957 version of the Canadian Red Ensign that had evolved as the de facto national flag until 1965. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Canadian flag outside the Maritime Museum of t...
Canadian flag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Old union jack

Old union jack (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Closure was imposed in the House of Commons to end the flag debate on December 14, 1964. One of the longest and most bitter debates in our history was concluded.

Post Confederation, there were two flags used. There was the Royal Union flag, also known as the Union Jack. There was also the Canadian Red Ensign.

Officially, the Great Flag Debate started on June 15 of 1964, though it had been discussed for longer than that.

Lester B. Pearson, as leader of the Opposition, brought the Great Flag Debate to Parliament In January of 1960. John Diefenbaker, heading the Progressive government, refused to make an issue of it.

So during the 1963 election campaign, Pearson promised Canadians that they would have a new flag within two years of his election. The debate went on and on, until finally they did what governments are known to do: they created a committee to solve the problem.

So on September 10, 1964, a committee consisting of 15 members of parliament were appointed the job. To make it fair, it was made up of 7 Liberals, 5 Conservatives, and one each of the New Democratic Party (NDP), the Social Credit Party, and Ralliement crediste. During the next six weeks, the committee held 35 agonizing meetings. Thousands of suggesting also came in from the public. 3,541 entries to be specific. The top entries were:

2,136 contained maple leaves
408 contained the Union Jacks
389 contained beavers and
359 contained the fleur-de-lys.

Queen Elizabeth II approved the Maple Leaf flag by signing a Royal Proclamation on January 28, 1965. Prime Minister Pearson and leader of Opposition Diefenbaker were already there because they were attending the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill.

The flag was inaugurated on February 15, 1965 at an official ceremony at the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, Ontario.

After the bitter debate, the result was our maple leaf as the official Canadian National flag.

Since 1996, February 15 has been commemorated as National Flag of Canada Day.

For more on this, I recommend going to CBC Digital Archives.


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