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July 1 Unites Canadians

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 29 June 2004 00:00

Each July 1, Canadians across the country pull out red and white National flags to decorate their homes and businesses in celebration of Canada Day.

Many Canadians grow red and white flowers in their gardens to add a festive air all summer. The combination of red and white was proclaimed Canada's national colours by King George V in 1921, in the Royal Arms of Canada -- Canada's coat of arms.

Historians tell us that the maple leaf began to serve as a Canadian symbol as early as 1700. Maple trees remain a common feature in Canadian gardens, parks and neighbourhoods. In 1867, Alexander Muir, a Toronto schoolmaster and poet, composed the song The Maple Leaf Forever, which, as the backup national anthem, will be sung this week at many Canada Day celebrations across the country.

In typical Canadian style, the flag's design was the result of a collaborative effort involving several Canadians.

Although most people know that the Canadian flag is the only country flag in the world with a maple leaf on it, how many of you will do well on our quiz about this distinctive symbol of our country?

  1. When was our current flag first flown?

  2. What kind of maple leaf is on the flag?

  3. When did the search for a new flag begin?

  4. Which Prime Minister was instrumental in replacing the red ensign with a uniquely Canadian flag?

Answers to our mini-quiz are at the bottom of this article.

On June 20, 1868, a proclamation signed by the Governor General called upon all Her Majesty's loving subjects throughout Canada to join in the celebration of the anniversary of the formation of the union of the British North America provinces in a federation under the name of Canada on July 1st, a holiday that was named Dominion Day in 1879 until it was renamed Canada Day in 1982.

Since 1985, Canada Day Committees are annually established in each province and territory to plan, organize and coordinate Canada Day celebrations locally. Whether you have just moved into your neighbourhood or are one of the most established residents, get out and meet your neighbours at local festivities. In communities across Canada -- from sea to sea to sea -- Canadians will be celebrating together in growing appreciation of what a rare and precious place Canada is and what a privilege it is to live here.

Happy Canada Day!!!!

Mini Quiz Answers

  1. The official ceremony inaugurating the new Canadian flag was held on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on February 15, 1965. This date is commemorated each year as Flag Day.

  2. The maple leaf is a sugar maple that has been stylized for a practical reason. Although a sugar maple leaf has 23 points, the leaf on the flag has only 11. This redesign was necessary since the points on a natural leaf appear to multiply on a windy day. The 11-point leaf resembles a real maple leaf when the flag flies in a brisk wind. There is no special significance to the eleven points.

  3. Research for a new Canadian flag started in earnest in 1925 when a committee of the Privy Council began to research possible designs for a national flag, however the work was not completed. In 1946, a parliamentary committee called for submissions and received more than 2,600 designs, but no final decision was made. In October 1964, after another call for submissions, the committee was left with three possible designs -- a Red Ensign with the fleur-de-lis and the Union Jack, a design incorporating three red maple leaves, and a red flag with a single, stylized red maple leaf on a white square. None was considered appropriate, so the committee continued deliberating until a final design was agreed upon in 1965.

  4. Early in 1964, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson informed the House of Commons that the government wished to adopt a new distinctively-Canadian flag before the 1967 centennial celebration of Confederation. (Pearson himself preferred a design with three red maple leaves between two blue borders.)
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