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First flag emerges from hiding

For nearly a century Canada had no distinctive national flag. Each time Canadians suggested a new symbol to replace the Canadian Red Ensign, modelled after a British naval flag, there was controversy. Maple leaves, beavers, crosses, crowns — propositions that went nowhere. In 1964 Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson said he'd introduce a new national flag. But Opposition leader John Diefenbaker and the Royal Canadian Legion wanted to stick with the Red Ensign. Everyone had an opinion before Canada finally chose the red and white flag with the maple leaf.

The first Canadian flag hoisted up Ottawa's Peace Tower 35 years ago emerges today from hiding. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien presents the flag to Heritage Minister Sheila Copps. He tells reporters that former prime minister Lester B. Pearson took the flag because he was proud of it and quietly handed it down to his successor Pierre Elliott Trudeau, a tradition continued until today. Conservative leader Joe Clark says he didn't know where the flag was during his term as prime minister.
. People who study flags are called vexillologists.
. On Nov. 21, 1921 King George V designated red and white as Canada's official colours.
. Maple leaf trees are not indigenous to every province in Canada.
. The government has a set of red shades used to create the "perfect" Canadian flag. The one that's best for outside use is weather-resistant "tomato red vinyl."

• In 2005, one of the original Peace Tower Canadian flags was located in Belgium. Elisabeth Hoffmann Lamoureux, the widow of the former deputy speaker of the House Lucien Lamoureux, explains how the flag came into her possession in this CBC Radio clip.
Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Feb. 15, 2000
Guest(s): Bill Blaikie, Jean Chrétien, Joe Clark
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Eric Sorensen
Duration: 2:41

Last updated: September 26, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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