This is the Foreword from the book,
The Flags of Canada, by Alistair B. Fraser.
This work is copyrighted. All rights reserved.




Carl Jung has helped us to understand how mankind thinks and communicates by means of symbol and metaphor. Socrates concluded that in order to know we must first define, and that in order to possess we must first know. It is not easy to capture what is limitless by means of the concrete, to characterize a country, for example, by a flag. What is more confusing is that we may be required to develop the symbol before the actuality it represents is fully realized. The hope need be formulated before there is a possibility of fulfillment. In the case of a country we preserve the symbol praying that what it purports to characterize will continue in being and never perish. For the survival of the nation we cherish Canada's flag!

There reposes in the human psyche a hunger for sequence and order, the concern and confidence that we are going somewhere-what Northrop Frye refers to as 'a teleological sense'. An historian such as Arnold Toynbee discovers pattern and recurrent design in the progress of human events. Another, like H.A.L. Fisher, finds only contingency piled upon contingency. All that Fisher could foresee was more of the unexpected. I would invite readers of this volume to decide for themselves whether or not the 'heraldry buffs', those who were most interested in Canada's motif, were not during the century following Confederation heading in much the same direction. Yet in many cases they were unfamiliar with other representations. In the hunt for an adequate symbol for this vast, awe-inspiring land all of them were indeed 'searching for a country', a country indescribably beautiful and unspeakably dear, yet elusive and afar off.

It has been said there is 'a time to every purpose under the heaven'. For a variety of compelling reasons the mid-sixties was a time when it was imperative to put Canada's symbolic house in order. Could such be achieved in harmony with the past, without disturbance to any part of the Canadian heritage? It has been opined that the mark of a good action is that it withstand the demanding test of history and appear inevitable in retrospect.

Shakespeare once referred to a flag as 'a sign of love'. I rejoice that such a timely project as the book that follows, a genuine work of love, has been undertaken by such a qualified and conscientious author.

John Ross Matheson