History of the Maple Leaf Flag
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Canada’s Maple Leaf Flag

Flags fly at Saskatoon WDM, January 2015
R. Bitner Photo

As a grade eight student at the time, I remember the lively debate about a new Canadian flag. Some of us liked the new Maple Leaf flag while others wanted to keep the Red Ensign. We proudly displayed our flag of choice on our desks. - R. Bitner

Unfurled on Parliament Hill at noon on February 15, 1965, the new flag replaced the Canadian Red Ensign which, although commonly flown in Canada, had never been the country’s official flag.

Red Ensign on the cover of the program for Saskatoon’s celebration of Canada’s 60th anniversary in 1927.
From the WDM collection, WDM-2010-S-126

Controversy surrounded the need for a new flag. The Great Flag Debate as it was known, pitted Liberal Prime Minister Lester Pearson who introduced the idea, against Progressive Conservative leader John Diefenbaker who advocated a flag that included symbols of Canada’s British and French heritage.

Legislation approving the maple leaf design finally passed in October, 1964. The new flag became Canada’s official flag on February 15, 1965.

R Bitner Photo