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The red-and-white maple leaf is now in its 50th year

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Canada’s distinctive maple leaf flag entered its 50th year beginning Feb. 15.

SUPPLIED PHOTO BY DAVID FIRMAN Enlarge Image

Canada’s distinctive maple leaf flag entered its 50th year beginning Feb. 15. Photo Store

It happened Saturday, Feb. 15. Discreetly timed between Valentine’s and Louis Riel Day. On a mildish weekend (a long one at that), during this all-too-long winter. On Day 9 of the Winter Olympics, the day Denny Morrison speedily skated for Canadian bronze.

On that day, if not at that moment, The National Flag of Canada (its official name) quietly turned another year older and entered its 50th year.

It’s difficult to remember, even imagine, a time without our signature maple leaf flag. Yet, 1964 saw a long parliamentary debate on whether the new flag should include symbolic reference to the United Kingdom.

MP John Matheson — who in September 1964 was charged by Prime Minister Lester Pearson to lead a flag selection committee — received a letter (dated March 23, 1964), from Dr. George F.G. Stanley of the Royal Military College of Canada; it included this information and advice:

"…The traditional heraldic device or emblem of Canada is the maple leaf… This emblem has official sanction by its inclusion in two provincial coats of  arms and in the official coat of arms of Canada. It has been used by Canadian troops in two world wars, and by Canadian Olympic teams (including the colours red and white). It appears to have universal acceptance both in and outside Canada as a distinctive Canadian emblem…

"The single leaf has the virtue of simplicity; it emphasizes the distinctive Canadian symbol; and suggests the idea of loyalty to a single country…"

No doubt there’ll be a big 50th birthday bash on Feb. 15, 2015,. But why not celebrate now?
Under the Canadian Parliamentary Flag Program (introduced in 1972), individuals can obtain free, 3-foot-by-six-foot Canadian flags from their MPs, as long as supplies last.

I picked up mine a couple of weeks ago from the Winnipeg Centre constituency office at 892 Sargent Ave. I only had to state my home address to establish I’m a constituent.

Since 1974, Wolseley’s Flag City, at 545 Telfer St., has been selling Canadian flags and other national, provincial, municipal and corporate flags and associated products.

Canada’s is the most popular at Flag City with annual maple leaf flag sales numbering several thousand retail, and significantly more wholesale.

Make this a banner year. Hoist the maple leaf!

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