50 Years of Our Flag

FlagDesignBrockville “The Birthplace of Our Canadian Flag”

Facts Of Record Understanding

Thank you for your interest in the 50 years of Our Flag project. The project has been conceived to raise awareness of, commemorate, and celebrate the birth of Canada’s Maple Leaf Flag. Our committee believes that there is a strong rationale to name Brockville as the Official Birthplace of the Canadian Flag as we outline below:

John Ross Matheson MP Leeds County and resident of Brockville Ontario,was asked by Lester B. Pearson in 1961 to discreetly pursue research and investigate the design and creation of a National Flag for Canada, he was the person most responsible for the daily operation of the Parliamentary Flag Committee(Project Manager)he was personally requested to Chair this committee by Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson. Mr. Matheson informed the Prime Minister he could do far greater work as the Project Manager than he could as the Chairman of the Committee (Herman Batten was appointed). He spent many hours from 1961 through 1964 on this project working from his North Augusta Rd. home as well as on Parliament Hill. NO other individual in this country worked as long or with more determination to bring a National Flag to Canadians.

Colonel George Stanley was a significant contributor in the design of the Canadian Maple Leaf Flag. However, there were over 2,100 submissions to the Official Flag Committee which had some form of Maple Leaf incorporated in the design. The Maple Leaf Flag had been suggested by Edward M. Chadwick in 1896 as well as Sir Eugene Fiset in 1918. Our Official Colours Red and White were given to Canada in 1921 by King George V. There were 15 members on the Parliamentary Flag Committee (Colonel Stanley was not part of this committee) John Ross Matheson was responsible for getting the Stanley design onto the final selection board in the Flag Committee Room. The Stanley design was based upon a verbal discussion between John Ross Matheson and Colonel Stanley at RMC in Kingston Ontario.

The final design of our Canadian Maple Leaf Flag has been documented in detailed Government records as having the Stanley suggestion as the basis, with Jacques Saint-Cyr, Dr. Gunter Wyszcki and George Bist contributing to the stylized maple leaf, the official colours and the proportional sizing to adhere to the Heraldic and Historical values required to make our Canadian Maple Leaf Flag representative of Canadian Heritage. There was NOT one person who created the Canadian Maple Leaf Flag there were many contributors involved.

John Ross Matheson is often referred to as “The Father of Our Flag” not because he takes credit for the design or creation of our flag but, because of his dedication and determination to bring it to fruition. His tireless efforts culminated in the Official Flag Committee members voting unanimously 14-0 to accept the Canadian Maple Leaf Flag design on October 22, 1964. Followed up by a dedicated lobby campaign during the House of Commons filibuster, which saw several Members of Parliament from different Political Parties lend support to this Flag Committee recommendation, this support came to the forefront in a historic vote on December 15 1964 at 2:00 AM when Parliament voted 168-73 to adopt the Canadian Maple Leaf as Canada’s very own Flag. This was then sent to the Senate of Canada and adopted as Law on Dec 17 1964 and received Royal Proclamation on January 28, 1965. The first Canadian Maple Leaf Flag was raised on Parliament Hill on February 15, 1965.  All of this work was done in the challenging working atmosphere of an all party committee and a minority Government. It is a remarkable achievement to say the very least.  The Great Flag Debate was over.!!!!

John Ross Matheson truly believes the Flag brought a feeling of unity to Canada in 1965 which has continued to this day. Please refer to the recent story of the percentage of Quebec citizens who supported the retention of the Canadian Maple Leaf Flag in the Quebec Legislature.

“The “Father of Our Flag” was our Member of Parliament for Leeds County, and Citizen of Brockville, Ontario during every aspect of the Official Flag Committee work as well as Parliament’s Great Flag Debate. In John Ross Matheson’s own words “many hours were spent in the study of my family home on North Augusta Rd working on the Flag project”. The people of Brockville are very proud of John Ross Matheson’s accomplishments and want to recognize his legacy.

For all of the above reasons the “50 Years of Our Flag” committee as well as thousands of people who have commented since the City of Brockville has agreed to support our project, Brockville Ontario can legitimately claim to be “ THE BIRTHPLACE OF OUR CANADIAN MAPLE LEAF FLAG”. We believe this title is respectful and well deserved. All levels of government are working on bills to officially recognize Brockville is the birthplace of the Canadian Maple Leaf Flag. Municipal, Provincial and Federal levels of government have all embraced these initiatives of the 50 Years of Our Flag Committee.

For more in depth information, Bob Harper, the Chairman of the 50 Years of Our Flag Committee has found a document which he considers to provide the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Flag story that he has found. Bob has now read more than 27,000 documents relating to the flag. This document can be found by clicking on the following link. Bob has contact the author, Alexander-Michael Hadjilyra who has been most gracious in allowing the reproduction of his complete document. In Alexander-Michael’s own words:

“First of all, thank you for your e-mail. It honours me to receive such recognition for my work. The subject was also very interesting and I am sure that Mr Matheson is the most competent person to tell fact from legend!
… It was originally done for the course of “Canadian literature” at the Department of English Studies of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (I think in 2005), but then I edited it a bit and I am sending you the finalized version.
It will be an honour to have this on your website. Let me know if I can be of any further assistance.
The 50 Years of Our Flag Committee would like to thank Alexander-Michael for his most generous assistance.