Canadian History for Kids!
Sketches of Canada for February 15th!

Canadian History for Kids: Canadian Flag

February 15, 1965 – Canada’s new red and white Maple Leaf Flag is inaugurated in a ceremony on Parliament Hill.

This Canadian History for Kids exclusive, looks at the birth of our great flag.

It was a debate that lasted almost two years but on February 15, 1965, the Maple Leaf flag became the National Flag of Canada.

The Great Canadian Flag Debate actually started in 1963 but officially began on June 15, 1964 when Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson proposed his plan for the new flag in the House of Commons. Prime Minister Pearson wanted a flag that was Canadian, therefore removing the British Union Jack. His design consisted of three red maple leaves on a single stem flanked by vertical blue bars. While the opposition, led by John Diefenbaker, argued to keep the Canadian Red Ensign.

On September 10, 1964, a committee of 15 Members of Parliament was appointed. During the next six weeks the committee held 35 meetings with more than 3,000 suggestions being submitted by the public. Just over 2,000 of those suggestions contained maple leaves.

Towards the end of the debate a flag designed by historian George Stanley was put forward. His design had one red maple leaf on a plain white background with two red borders.

Now the Committee was voting between Prime Minister’s design and George Stanley’s design. On October 22, 1964, the vote was in. The Conservatives, thinking the Liberals would vote for the Prime Minister’s design, voted for George Stanley’s design. Instead there was an unanimous vote for Stanley’s red and white flag at 14-0.

Now it was up to the House of Commons. This debate continued for another six weeks but finally on December 15, 1964, the House of Commons finally voted in George Stanley’s Maple Leaf flag.

Queen Elizabeth II approved the Maple Leaf flag by Royal Proclamation on January 28, 1965.

The flag was finally inaugurated on February 15, 1965, at an official ceremony held on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Throughout Canada, at the United Nations in New York City, and at Canadian legislative buildings and on Canadian ships throughout the world, the Canadian Red Ensign was lowered and the Maple Leaf flag was raised.

Since 1995, February 15 has been commemorated as National Flag of Canada Day in Canada.

And that’s this week’s Canadian History for Kids, exclusive!

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