On Canada Day, there are a few things that visitors to Canada are certain to see — smiling faces, fireworks displays, and plenty of waving of the distinctive red and white Canadian flag. Embossed with the great Canadian maple leaf, this flag is one that has become renowned and recognized the world over — waved high and proud at sporting events and other international gatherings.
Officially known as the National Flag of Canada, it is also known colloquially as “the Maple Leaf” and in French as “l’Unifolié” which means “the one-leafed.” The flag is comprised of a red field with a white square at its centre, the middle of which features a stylized, 11-pointed, red maple leaf.
Here are a few facts about the history of the maple leaf as a symbol in Canada, on this the nation’s birthday:
- The current design of the official Canadian flag made its first official appearance in February 15, 1965 — the date that is now celebrated annually as National Flag of Canada Day.
- This particular maple leaf design was done by historian, author, soldier and public servant George F. G. Stanley, and is said to have been inspired by the flag of the Royal Military College of Canada.
- The maple leaf has been prominently used as a Canadian emblem since as early as the 1700s.
- The maple leaf is thought to have been first used as a national symbol in 1868, when it appeared on the coat of arms of both Ontario and Quebec.
- In 1867, Alexander Muir composed the patriotic song “The Maple Leaf Forever,” which became an unofficial national anthem in English-speaking Canada.
- From 1876 until 1901, the maple leaf appeared on all Canadian coins, and remained on the penny until after 1901.
- During the First World War and Second World War, badges worn by the Canadian Forces were based on a maple leaf design.
- In 1921, King George V made red and white the official colors of Canada. The red came from the Saint George’s Cross and the white from the French royal emblem since King Charles VII.
- Many people mistakenly believe that the 11 points of the maple leaf on the official flag are representative of something. In truth, the 11-point design is said to have been chosen after it was found to be the least blurry of the various designs when tested under high wind conditions.
No matter what the wind is doing on July 1, Canadians at home and abroad will all be waving that symbolic red and white flag to celebrate the founding of this wonderful country! A very happy Canada Day to one and all from all of us here at the OG head office in Richmond, British Colombia, Canada.