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Canada, flag proposals

Last modified: 2005-07-30 by phil nelson
Keywords: canada | proposal | maple leaf | pearson pennant |
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Proposal of 1947

[Canada - Proposal of 1947]
by Jaume Ollé

This flag was suggested by Adélard Godbout (Premier of Quebec in 1936 and from 1939 to 1944) in 1947 for Canada. It was the flag of the League of the Canadian Flag : diagonally divided from upper hoist to lower fly, red over white, with a centered green maple leaf.
Some might be interested to know that in the text of the law on the adoption of the present fleur-de-lis, flag of Quebec, it is said :

WHEREAS the Federal authorities seem to be opposed to the adoption of an exclusively Canadian flag and consequently fail to provide Our Country, Canada, with a flag to which it is entitled;

Ironic twist of faith... The most important national symbol of Quebec wouldn't have been adopted at that time if the Federal would've been more nationalist ! (In the Canadian sense, of course).
Luc-Vartan Baronian - 23 March 1997


Proposal of 1962

[Canada - Proposal of 1962]
by Jaume Ollé

Proposal (from the beginning of the century) for a *Canadian* flag by John-Guy Labarre in 1962 : it has the polar star.
This is the second Quebecois proposal for a Canadian flag that I mention.
Luc-Vartan Baronian - 19 March 1997


Proposal of 1964 : The Pearson Pennant

[Canada - Pearson Pennant]
by Timothy Boronczyk - 1998-05-18

Apparently there is a flag that looks like the Canadian flag, but with blue stripes. ... What was that flag?

There have been a number of replies to this inquiry that more or less answered the question. The white flag with the triple red maple leaves on a single stem, and blue bands at either end of the field, is called the "Pearson Pennant" and was designed by that Canadian Prime Minister subsequent to the Anglo-Egyptian difficulties over the Suez Canal in the late 1950's. Seems the Canadians were offered as "peace - keepers" but the Egyptians objected, saying (in reference to the Canadian Red Ensign) "Look at the Union Jack in their flag and you'll see that Canadians cannot be objective." That really kicked the Canadian flag issue into the forefront of public debate, culminating in 1965.
Nick Artimovich - 1996-09-27

Not being Canadian I will not try to get into the symbolism of either the Pearson Pennant, nor the Maple Leaf Flag adopted in 1965, but I agree with Dave Kendall  that the flag that was adopted is far superior to Pearson's design. I will offer my opinion that the Maple Leaf Flag is the most attractive national flag in the world, considering both from a graphic design standpoint and from a historic perspective: it is simple (two colors, very few graphic elements), distinctive (so much so that the use of a square in the middle of a 2:1 flag is termed a "Canadian Pale"), and easy to recognize/recall (once you know that Canada's colors are red and white, and that the maple leaf has been part of the national iconography for the better part of two centuries.)
Nick Artimovich - 1996-09-27

Nick Artmovitch provided more information than I had regarding the history of the "Pearson Pennant", but I stand by my opinion about its superiority to the current flag. Its blue stripes at hoist and fly are unmatched as a fit of words ["A mari usque ad mare"] to the pictorial representation, and this inclusion of blue incorporates an important color of French flags into a Canadian one.
Carl S. Gurtman - 1996-10-01

I have been working through the contributions to you web page on the flag and been struck by how much is forgotten so quickly. I thought I might refer people to a book by somebody who really knows.
John Matheson was probably the most important figure in the design of the flag. In the drive for a flag he gives full credit to Prime Minister Pearson; indeed, at times his remarks about Pearson border on hagiography. However I think the book is close to being exhaustive on the subject. There you will find the answers to colours, including shade of red, three vs. one leaf, size and shape, and the incredible work just to secure a dye that wouldn't fade in 30 days.
What I found most lacking in the book was any discussion of an ensign for the armed forces [they were unified by then]. Nor is any consideration given to a separate flag for the merchant marine. I feel we missed a real opportunity then. Upon re-reading the book recently I thought to write Mr. Matheson and ask him about this, but he would be 82 years old now and I am not at all sure he is still alive.
Any way, I have extracted some bits from the book and include them here : Matheson
Patrick Brabazon - 12 July 1999