What Does the Maple Leaf on the Canadian Flag Represent?

It’s relatively new and based on a symbol the size of your hand, yet it holds a large amount of historic pride. The Canadian flag is a red field with a centered white square that holds a perfectly formed maple leaf. Stunning and spectacular at national sporting events, the flag of Canada has a storied past that makes its presence at public buildings, homes and schoolyards an honor.

Historical Reverence

Originally, the Canadian Red Ensign was used as the official flag from the 1890s until 1945. The Union Jack from Britain was also flown due to Canada’s status as a province of the United Kingdom. Not everyone was thrilled to fly these flags with vague national ties. Less than a generation ago, the national flag of Canada became a point of conversation among the people of the widespread country. From the Pacific to the Atlantic oceans, the residents of the Great White North were discussing how the flag would be styled as the 1960s bloomed. Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson formed a committee to confront the want of a national flag for Canada in 1964. The seemingly simple instruction sparked a debate about changing the national flag from the tremendously loved Union Jack flag that was flown as a symbol of Canada’s attachment to the beloved United Kingdom. The Union Jack represented the U.K.’s often untidy union of England, Scotland and Ireland. Canadians felt they may need their own symbol to fly at events considered truly Canadian.

How the Flag was Born

Designer George Stanley’s 11-point maple leaf with its bold background was presented and chosen from three official designs. Stanley’s design was based on the Royal Military College of Canada flag. On February 15, 1965, the maple leaf made its debut. It has become an annual holiday celebrated throughout the country as National Flag of Canada Day.

Why a Maple Leaf

Maple has long been a staple of the people of the provinces and lands of the northern part of North America. From the time before European settlers stepped foot on Canadian soil, the native peoples realized that the sap from the maple tree could be used for food and other necessities. It was gathered every spring and became a vital part of the recipes and preserving for the settlers.

Modern Flag

Queen Elizabeth II of England gave a formal proclamation before the debut of the hallmark maple leaf flag that represents Canada. The official debut happened on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, the capital of Canada, on February 15, 1965. The maple leaf is distinctly Canadian. The colors of the flag had been decided by the much beloved King George V of Britain in 1921. The bold maple leaf prominently placed in the middle of the flag is one of the most recognizable around the world at sporting and political events.