The Maple Leaf
official ceremony inaugurating the new Canadian flag was held on
Parliament Hill in Ottawa on February 15, 1965, with Governor
General Georges Vanier, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, the
members of the Cabinet and thousands of Canadians in attendance.
Canadian Red Ensign, bearing the Union Jack and the shield of the
royal arms of Canada, was lowered and then, on the stroke of noon,
our new maple leaf flag was raised. The crowd sang the national
anthem O Canada followed by the royal anthem God Save the Queen.
following words, spoken on that momentous day by the Honourable
Maurice Bourget, Speaker of the Senate, added further symbolic
meaning to our flag: "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
the coming of the first European settlers, Canada's aboriginal
peoples had discovered the food properties of maple sap, which
they gathered every spring. According to many historians, the
maple leaf began to serve as a Canadian symbol as early as 1700.
In 1834, the first St. Jean Baptiste Society in North America made
the maple leaf its emblem.
In 1836, Le Canadien, a newspaper published in Lower Canada,
referred to it as a suitable emblem for Canada.
In 1848, the Toronto literary annual The Maple Leaf referred to it
as the chosen emblem of Canada. By 1860, the maple leaf was
incorporated into the badge of the 100th Regiment (Royal
Canadians) and was used extensively in decorations for the visit
of the Prince of Wales that year.
Alexander Muir wrote The Maple Leaf Forever as Canada's
confederation song in 1867; it was regarded as the national song
for several decades. The coats of arms created the next year for
Ontario and Quebec both included the maple leaf.
leaf today appears on the penny. However, between 1876 and 1901, it
appeared on all Canadian coins. The modern one-cent piece has two
maple leaves on a common twig, a design that has gone almost
unchanged since 1937.
First World War, the maple leaf was included in the badge of the
Canadian Expeditionary Force. Since 1921, the Royal Arms of Canada
have included three maple leaves as a distinctive Canadian emblem.
With the proclamation of Canada's new flag in 1965, the maple leaf
has become the most-prominent Canadian symbol.
at the time of World War II, many Canadian troops used the maple
leaf as a distinctive sign, displaying it on regimental badges and
Canadian army and naval equipment.
the colour of the maple leaves on the arms of Canada was changed
from green to red, one of Canada's official colours.
February 15, 1965, the red maple leaf flag was inaugurated as the
National Flag of Canada.
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Updated: 19 March 2008