There is an interesting story behind the Canadian flag’s origin

LETTES: Tribute to a great Canadian story

The beloved Canadian Maple Leaf flag is 50 years old this year. There is an interesting story behind its origin.


The beloved Canadian Maple Leaf flag is 50 years old this year. There is an interesting story behind its origin.

Dr. George Stanley was my history professor in my first year at the Royal Military College in Kingston. A renowned historian and terrific lecturer, he was a former Rhodes Scholar, and later received honorary doctorates from 12 universities and served six years as the lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick.

Unknown to us cadets, he had submitted a design for consideration in a national contest for a new flag in 1964.

By 1965, the number of submissions under consideration had been shortened down to three from over 200. There was one from former prime minister John Diefenbaker, one from then-prime minister Lester Pearson and one from Dr. George Stanley.

Dr. Stanley’s design was based on the flag of the Royal Military College. The insignia of the college in the centre panel had been replaced by a red maple leaf. In the end, his submission was chosen over those favoured by the two prime ministers.

The final choice had a lot to do with Dr. Stanley’s rationale, which went something like this: the flag had to be simple so it could be easily drawn by children; and it had to have universal appeal – something that applied to French, English, First Nations and all other cultures that constitute Canada. It should not have any specific reference to the “two solitudes” – French and English. Moreover, the single, large maple leaf was symbolic of the large vastness of Canada.

That was 50 years ago. Dr. Stanley passed away in 2002 at the age of 93. A great Canadian story and a great Canadian.

I was privileged to have known him.

Wayne Baldwin, White Rock mayor

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