This is the chapter on the Canadian Red Ensign from the book,
The Flags of Canada, by Alistair B. Fraser.
This work is copyrighted. All rights reserved.


The Nation
Chap IV:


the red ensign with the Canadian badge in the fly ...
has come to be considered as the recognized flag
of the Dominion, both ashore and afloat.
Lord Stanley, 1891
Governor General



For nearly a century, Canadians flew the Canadian red Ensign to distinguish themselves from all others. For most of that time it was the premier pretender to the national flag.

Yet for about half of that time, the Canadian Red Ensign received serious competition for the affection of Canadians from the Union Flag (colloquially known as the Union Jack). Although the Union Flag was widely used and ardently supported, it was not distinctly Canadian. Indeed for many, the very lack of a distinctive Canadianness to the Union Flag was its appeal; for them it served to emphasize the degree to which Canada was immersed in the greater Empire. In the words of Joseph Pope, private secretary to, and biographer of, John A. Macdonald:2

There is nothing that so imbues one with a sense of the power and greatness of the Empire to which we belong, and which makes us so realize the extent of our kinship throughout the world, as the Union Jack.3

To which John S. Ewart, an ardently nationalist lawyer whose essays helped define the form of the Statute of Westminster,4 replied:

And if Canada be still a colony, it [the Union Flag] should still fly there. Canada is, however, very nearly free of its swaddling-clothes, and ... the flag that has been adopted is extremely appropriate to our equivocal situation, namely, the red ensign with the Union Jack in the corner-indicative of colonialism, and the Canadian coat-of-arms in the fly-indicative of individual existence.5

This exchange in the early years of the twentieth century was a war over symbols, but it reflected a larger dichotomy between loyalties: whether the primary loyalty was to the whole, that is the empire, or to the part, the dominion. In fairness it must be noted that the divided loyalties characterized English Canada, not French Canada. As Senator F.P. Quinn, a Conservative from Halifax, noted to an unsympathetic parliament during the 1946 flag controversy:

I am afraid that we of the English tongue are responsible for a great deal of the disunity in Canada. What with our Union Jacks waving, our dislike for French Canadian suggestions, our reference to Great Britain as Motherland, with no reference to Canadian Motherland. All this and more have naturally caused French Canadians to look askance at our Canadian loyalty and to come to the conclusion that we are more British than we are Canadians.6

These observations were seconded eighteen years later by a French Canadian member of the 1964 flag committee:

In Quebec we have had French Canadians there for a longer period-we go back centuries. For a long time we have had the sentiment of being Canadian. I think we can be happy today to see that that same sentiment is developing in the English part of Canada. It explains why we have this upsurge of the separatist movement in Quebec; it is developing among people who are fed up waiting for you people to become Canadian.7

Today, the specific problem of a divided loyalty in English Canada has been dispatched but a modern counterpoint can be found in the ambivalent allegiances Canadians have for country and province.

In the early years after Confederation, a struggle was waged for the display of a distinctive Canadian symbol upon a flag. The presence of a Canadian badge on the fly of the Canadian Red Ensign made it a strident expression of nationalism. Later, after the Statute of Westminster and World War II, Canada's independence invited a solely Canadian flag. Then, the presence of the Union Flag in the canton of the Canadian Red Ensign made it inappropriately colonial. It was not that the flag had changed over the years, but that the country had changed. The story of the rise and fall of the Canadian Red Ensign is the story of the rise of Canadian national identity.

Yet, only a quarter century after it was displaced by the Maple Leaf Flag, the Canadian Red Ensign had almost vanished from the national consciousness. When people in Ontario see the Canadian Red Ensign, most believe it to be an early version of their provincial flag; when people in British Columbia see the Canadian Red Ensign, most believe it to be Ontario's flag. A trip across the country reveals only a handful of Canadian Red Ensigns still flying, as old friends, at private dwellings.

If, for nearly a century, Canadians flew the Canadian Red Ensign to distinguish themselves from all others, what was this flag? It was not a unique flag, but many: over time it assumed three different official forms; another three major unofficial, but widely used, forms; and many imaginative and distinctive variations.

Nowadays, we think of an ensign as the identifying national flag of a ship, although from the earliest times, and particularly in modern times, it has also been used on land. In British usage, inherited by Canadians, it is a flag with the national flag in the canton, a coloured field, and sometimes a badge on the fly.

The story of ensigns starts well before Confederation. Indeed, some of the earliest ensigns were worn by the ships of Sir Frances Drake as he routed the Spanish Armada in 1588.8 In the succeeding centuries, the distinctive ensigns developed by the British became the flags that dominated Canadian usage both at sea and ashore from well before Confederation to nearly a century afterward. Only after Confederation did Canadians stamp these ensigns with their own characteristic badge and create the Canadian Ensigns.


Early British Ensigns

The first ensigns, flown at the stern of a ship, were introduced about 1574. Just as a colour was used by military regiments on land to enable them to be recognized in battle, an ensign was adopted at sea to enable an individual ship to be recognized. As Captain Nathaniel Boteler explained it in the 1630s:

They are placed in the sterns or poops of ships; and few ships there are, whether men-of-war or merchantmen, that are without them. And their service is, that when any strange ships meet one with another at sea, or find one another in any harbour or road, by the showing abroad these Ensigns or Colours, it is known to one another of what country they are and to what place they belong.9

In the canton (the upper, hoist corner), that portion of the ensign which identified nationality, English ships bore the cross of Saint George and Scottish ships bore the cross of Saint Andrew. At first, the rest of the flag, the field, displayed distinctive stripes, but early in the 1600s, fields of a single colour began to replace the striped ones. The first red ensign made its appearance in 1621 with the blue and white ensigns following shortly thereafter. The navy had found it convenient to be able to differentiate squadrons by using either red, blue or white ensigns.

Merchantmen followed the practice of the navy with the result that ensigns with plain fields became common in the seventeenth century. Although merchantmen had been imitating the navy's ensigns (flown at the stern), after 1634, they were prohibited from imitating the navy's jack (flown at the bow). A proclamation in 1674 affirmed the 1634 ban on the use of the "King's Jack" (the Union Jack) by merchant ships, but went on to stipulate that Saint George's cross was to be the merchant jack. The merchantman's ensign, it specified, was to be the Red Ensign with the Saint George's cross in the canton.10

Thus began the use of the red ensign by merchantmen, a use which continued in Canada until 1965. Further, unlike the Union Flag which private citizens were not allowed to use, the owners of merchantmen were clearly permitted to use the Red Ensign. As a result, this flag gradually came ashore where it ultimately evolved into the Canadian Red Ensign.

The feature that was to distinguish the Canadian Red Ensign from the plain (British) Red Ensign was the Canadian badge placed on the fly. The practice of putting a distinguishing badge on the fly of an ensign was in use by 1630,11 but until the Canadian Red Ensign was developed after Confederation, the red ensign of merchantmen was not supposed to bear a badge. Nevertheless, whether authorized or not, some companies did place their own badges on the fly. Long familiar to Canadians was the ensign used by the Hudson's Bay Company with the letters HB.C. on the fly. It is not clear when the Company adopted this practice, but it was certainly in use by 1818 when "Ensigns 6 Yds. red with the letters HB C sewed on ... were shipped on board the Company's ship, Prince of Wales to York Factory."12 The Hudson's Bay Company Ensign continued in use until the company's tercentenary in 1970, at which point it was retired.13

The governmental use of a badge upon an ensign became extensive early in the eighteenth century after the emergence of a new class of shipping. In addition to the private merchantmen and the warships of the King's navy, there arose the non-belligerent ships of the King's government: ships used by the customs house, port authorities (Trinity House), the Victualling Office, and the Board of Ordnance. In 1694 they were instructed to wear the same (plain) red ensign as that worn by merchantmen, but, in addition, they were to "wear a Red Jack, with the Union Jack, described in the Canton" and a badge of the government office on the fly. This badge soon spread to the ensign, and by 1731, ships of public office bore a badge on both their jack and ensign.14 A familiar badge that would have been seen in Canada (after 1817) on such ships was the royal crown on the fly of the Customs and Excise vessels.15

In 1864, when the practice of wearing a jack and an ensign of similar design was well established on governmental ships, the colour of these flags was changed to blue. Often the jack would differ slightly by being nearly square and smaller than the ensign.16 These practices were followed on Canadian government vessels until 1965.

In 1694, the ensign and the jack of these public ships differed in the canton, for the ensign bore Saint George's cross and the jack bore the Union Flag. But, as a result of the proclamation of Queen Anne in 1707, the Union Flag was placed in the canton of all ensigns, whether worn by a governmental vessel or a merchantman and whether the ship came from England or Scotland. This was the year in which the parliaments of Scotland and England were united; the Union Flag at this time combined only the crosses of those two countries.

On January 1, 1801, with the amalgamation of the Irish parliament with that of the United Kingdom, the Union Flag, and all ensigns and jacks based on it, gained the cross of Saint Patrick. Then on July 9, 1864, more regulations which affected Canadian usage of ensigns came into effect. The Red Ensign was restricted to merchant vessels, which includes fishing vessels, private yachts and other pleasure craft. The plain Blue Ensign could be flown by merchant ships and fishing vessels if the commanding officer and some fraction of the crew were members of the Royal Naval Reserve (in 1912 the Titanic flew a Blue Ensign for her one and only voyage).17 The Blue Ensign with a badge was worn by ships of Government Departments. The White Ensign was restricted to the Royal Navy. Occasionally, a yacht club was granted a special warrant to use either the White or Blue Ensign.

So far, the only authorized use of badges on ensigns was that of the ships of government offices (no authorization of the HB.C. ensign has surfaced). The potential for the use of badges on ensigns was greatly expanded in 1865 when the Colonial Defence Act authorized the Blue Ensign defaced with a colonial badge to be used in colonial navies. As Canada had neither a navy nor a badge at the time, the legislation, which was directed at Australia,18 had no immediate effect. Not until 1910 did Canada have a navy, at which time it placed the Canadian badge on a Blue Jack because the white ensign of the Royal Navy was on the stern.

The (plain) Red Ensign was widely used in Canada before Confederation, but it took the establishment of a Canadian badge after Confederation to turn it into the flag that expressed Canadian identity for nearly a century, the Canadian Red Ensign.


Canada's First Ensign Badge

The first Canadian badge was born shortly after Confederation. On December 16, 1868, the colonial secretary notified the governor general that colonial government ships "shall use the blue ensign with the seal or badge of the Colony in the fly thereof."19 Unlike the earlier regulation about colonial navies, this one was of interest, for the Canadian Department of Marine and Fisheries operated cruisers whose task it was to protect Canadian waters from foreign vessels. The maintenance of these cruisers had been necessary ever since the 1866 American abrogation of the reciprocity treaty of 1854.

The material for the dominion badge was already in hand, for, a half year earlier on May 26, 1868, the four founding provinces had been granted arms. As with the design for the badge of the flag of the governor general, the job of designing the badge which would create a Canadian Blue Ensign was given to Peter Mitchell, Minister of Marine and Fisheries. His choice was a quartering of the four provincial arms, the same quartering that was placed on the flag of the governor general, but now with neither the wreath of maple nor the crown. Together, the designs for the viceregal flags and the Blue Ensign were approved by the governor-in-council on February 28, 1870, and then submitted to the Colonial Office for approval which was given on July 16, 1870.

For those only familiar with the modern arms of the provinces, some of those granted in 1868 come as a surprise. Quebec's arms show two blue fleurs-de-lis on a gold, rather than the post-1939 version of three golden fleurs-de-lis on blue. More incongruous, however, are the arms of Nova Scotia, which bear no resemblance to the modern ones. Actually, the arms in present use are much older, having been granted in 1625, but at the time of Confederation they had been forgotten, not only by the College of Arms in London, but by the Nova Scotian delegates who reviewed the new version in 1868 before it was granted.20 As Nova Scotia did not revert to its earlier arms until 1929, the 1868 ones appear on all ensign badges that use a quartering of provincial arms.

Thus by mid-1870, the country not only had five new viceregal flags (for the governor general and four lieutenant-governors), but also a flag for use on governmental vessels at sea: the Canadian Blue Ensign. This flag saw almost immediate use on land when it was paraded in Victoria on July 1, 1871, to mark the entrance of British Columbia into Confederation (even though British Columbia did not enter until July 20). It had been brought from Ottawa to Victoria for the occasion by Dr. Israel W. Powell, a supporter of Confederation and a personal friend of Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald. This "Blue Ensign or flag of the Dominion Navy [sic]" consisted, so The Colonist of the day said, "of a blue field with the Union Jack in the upper left hand corner and the arms of the Dominion in the lower half of the field."21

However, although the Canadian Blue Ensign had official status, it was the (plain) Red Ensign that was used at first by the citizenry, not only on merchant vessels, but on land. For example, early in 1870, the Canadian Illustrated News22 showed, what appears to be, a plain Red Ensign flying over the Victoria tower of the Parliament Buildings. The next natural step would be to add the same four-province badge to the Red Ensign as had just been approved for the Blue Ensign. As both the Red and Blue Ensigns were maritime flags, their use was controlled by the Admiralty, but the Admiralty's jurisdiction did not extend ashore (except at their own facilities) so no authority existed to either approve or disapprove the use of such flags on land. Although it is not clear when such a Canadian Red Ensign was first raised over the Parliament Buildings, if maritime use was any guide, it probably was in the early 1870s.

The government not only flew the flag on the parliament buildings, it encouraged the broader use. Years later, Governor General, Lord Stanley, wrote that while "no restriction exists with respect to flags which may be hoisted on shore," and that "though no actual order has ever been issued," nevertheless:

the Dominion government has encouraged, by precept and example, the use on all public buildings throughout the provinces, of the red ensign with the Canadian badge in the fly. (December 12, 1891)

The Canadian government also encouraged the use of the Canadian Red Ensign at sea, and about 1873, sought formal permission for Canadian merchant vessels to fly it. At first, the Admiralty agreed. In their note of May 22, 1874, to the colonial office, they said "no objection would be raised to any vessel registered as belonging to one of Her Majesty's Colonies flying the red ensign with the badge of the Colony in the fly." Then, only a year later on July 25, 1875, the Admiralty changed its mind and informed the colonial secretary that the only proper flag for the colonial mercantile marine was "the red ensign without any badge." However, there was no turning back; neither the government nor the ship owners took much notice of this inhibition.

The story of the Canadian Red Ensign in the early 1870s becomes complicated as the first of a half-century-long parade of unofficial, but widely used, variations gets hoisted. Before pursuing that delightful digression, the fate of the official Red and Blue Ensigns will be followed up until 1922, the year that the (proper) arms of Canada were first used as a badge.

While the Blue Ensign defaced with the four-province badge was official, the corresponding red one was still a flag-in-waiting. Fourteen years elapsed from the 1875 Admiralty order which disallowed the use of the Canadian Red Ensign at sea, and, throughout that time, Canadian ship owners continued to proudly display the ensign with the dominion badge. In the face of this intransigence, an imperial statute was passed on October 3, 1889, which attempted to stop it, declaring that the proper national colours for all ships and boats belonging to any subject of Her Majesty was "the red ensign usually worn by merchant ships without any defacement or modifications whatsoever." However, it did permit the Canadian Red Ensign to play a supplementary role, when it allowed that would "be no objection to colonial merchant vessels carrying distinguishing flags with the badge of the colony thereon in addition to the red ensign."23

While allowing the ensign defaced with the Canadian badge to be used in addition to the plain one was certainly a step in the right direction, this was hardly the independent use of the flag that Canada wanted. Consequently, on June 30, 1890, the government made an application under the provisions of the statute "for the issue of a general warrant which will permit Canadian registered ships to fly the red ensign usually worn by merchant ships with the Canadian coat of arms."24

The Admiralty objected, which only prompted the Canadian government to dig in its heels. On October 31, 1890, it passed an order-in-council in support of the earlier application and then sought testimonials on the merit of its position for submission to the colonial office. A particularly revealing one was from Vice-Admiral Watson, who was stationed at the British base at Halifax. It speaks to the public acceptance of the Canadian Red Ensign.

I have read with much interest the correspondence relating to the Canadian flag. It will certainly be a great pity if the Home Government insist on its abolition. As a matter of feeling and sentiment, I know for certain it will cause very great dissatisfaction in the colony, and I can see no good result from the enforcement of the order, but on the contrary I think a change enforced might give rise to trouble and will certainly cause general ill-feeling. They are proud of their flag, and their pride in my opinion should be encouraged not dampened. (November 7, 1891)25

These letters had been written to the Governor General, Lord Stanley, who then put the case to the Colonial Secretary:

It has been one of the objects of the Dominion, as of Imperial policy, to emphasise the fact that, by Confederation, Canada became not a mere assemblage of Provinces, but one united Dominion, and though no actual order has ever been issued the Dominion government has encouraged, by precept and example, the use on all public buildings throughout the provinces, of the red ensign with the Canadian badge in the fly. Of course it may be replied that no restriction exists with respect to flags which may be hoisted on shore, but I submit that the flag is one which has come to be considered as the recognized flag of the dominion, both ashore and afloat, and on sentimental grounds, I think there is much to be said for its retention, as it expresses at once the unity of the several Provinces of the identity of their flag with the colours hoisted by the ships of the mother country. (December 12, 1891)26

He added that the enforcement of the present order "would be attended with an amount of unpopularity very disproportionate to the occasion". The Admiralty finally relented and on February 2, 1892, issued a warrant as follows:

We do, therefore, by virtue of the power and authority vested in us, hereby warrant and authorise the red ensign of Her Majesty's fleet with the Canadian coat of arms in the fly, to be used on board vessels registered in the Dominion.27

However, in giving in, the Admiralty complained that "there are not unimportant objections to interference with the simplicity and uniformity of national colours." It is clear that they preferred to emphasize the monolithic nature of the Empire in the face of the Canadian government's emphasis on national identity. This dichotomy would resurface within the country many times before the flag issue was settled in late 1964. Further, the Admiralty then feared that "Whatever is conceded to Canada will almost certainly be claimed by the other Colonial Governments." The suspicion that a Canadian Red Ensign would serve as the thin edge of the wedge was prescient. Before long, Canada's precedent produced a number of colonial red ensigns, including the Newfoundland Red Ensign.

Unlike the case with the Blue Ensign where blanket permission had been granted for colonial governments to place a badge on the fly, each new defaced Red Ensign required explicit permission. Nevertheless, the presumption was that any government, provincial or even municipal, could now place its badge on the fly of the Red Ensign. Some actually did so in the early part of the twentieth century. Indeed, the provincial flags of Ontario and Manitoba are the descendants of the precedent gained by Canada in 1892.

In Lord Stanley's letter he made an implied request for use of the Canadian Red Ensign on land, even though this was beyond the power of the Admiralty and so was not even addressed by them. The approval, then, is only for use at sea, a point that would prompt much hand wringing and comment in years to come. However, for now, there was an official Canadian Red Ensign, the badge of which was a quartering of the arms of the four founding provinces, and it was to remain unchanged for the following thirty years.

Likewise, the Canadian Blue Ensign with the identical badge remained unchanged until 1922, but after 1910, when the Royal Canadian Navy was formed, its use was extended to that of a naval jack.


Aberrant Ensigns:


In the first half century after Confederation, many more aberrant than correct ensigns were produced and displayed, although this assumes we can properly decide what is meant by an aberrant ensign when there was no authority governing the use of such flags ashore. These were the flags with no official counterpart: ensigns with badges that no authority approved, nor would have had the gall to approve. Yet, the parade of unofficial badges spoke worlds about the desire of Canadians for both a local and a British identity.

The parade was probably inspired, and was certainly encouraged, by the publication of egregious drawings and descriptions of Canadian flags in the Canadian Illustrated News of May 6, 1871.28 Already referred to in the discussion of the flag of the governor general, the article also illustrated bogus Blue and Red Ensigns while assuring the reader that it offered

the true nature and character of the flags assigned to the Dominion ... founded on information drawn from the highest official sources.

The badge it displayed for both the Blue and Red Ensigns was identical to the badge on the flag of the governor general, despite the fact that the badge, sought and approved for the Blue Ensign a year before, had been the quartered provincial arms unadorned by either wreath or crown. For the next fifty years, very few of the aberrant Red Ensigns would deviate from the formula of provincial symbols surrounded by a wreath and surmounted by a crown.

When the aberrant Canadian Red Ensigns first came into use is not clear, but it was probably not long after the article of May 1871. A subsequent issue of the Canadian Illustrated News (March 2, 1872)29 shows one at a grand fancy ball held in February, 1872, at the skating rink in Saint John, New Brunswick.

One of the most amusing aspects of the drawings in the (1871) Canadian Illustrated News was the representation of the maple leaves as shamrocks on the shields of Ontario and Québec. Red ensigns based on these shamrock drawings were actually manufactured and flown. This underscores a minor problem of the flag manufacturers of the age: they were not always sure what the national symbol looked like as they presented maple leaves that assumed the appearance of, not only shamrocks, but thistles and ivy.

While the aberrant Red Ensign became exceedingly common, the aberrant Blue Ensign was rare, undoubtedly because the Blue Ensign was a governmental flag. Nevertheless, even officialdom did not stick to its own design. In 1877, Canada's Ministry of the Interior negotiated Indian Treaty No. 7. In it was a provision that the "Stony Chief, in recognition of the closing of the Treaty," should receive "a suitable medal and flag."30 That flag, presented to Chief Chiniki, was an aberrant Canadian Blue Ensign identical in design to the one shown in the Canadian Illustrated News of 1871.31 As the Ministry of the Interior had supplied this flag, it also may have supplied the bogus information which the Canadian Illustrated News claimed to have "drawn from the highest official sources."

The bestowing of flags upon Indians had been accepted practice by both the French and English since at least the eighteenth century. The French often gave their White Flag, while the British gave the Red or Blue Ensign in preference to the Union Flag.32 After Confederation, the Canadian Government was clearly continuing this tradition by including flags for the chiefs in Indian Treaties No. 3 (1873) to No. 11 (1921). What these flags were is not clear and there is no evidence that any flags were included in Treaties Nos. 1 and 2 in 1871.33

However, the Ministry of the Interior was not alone in its use of the aberrant Blue Ensign. In a practice which may have been much more extensive than the sole surviving example would indicate, the aberrant Blue Ensign was used as a distinguishing flag during World War I: preserved in the Canadian War Museum is the flag carried by General Currie on his automobile during the Battle of Amiens on August 8, 1918.


Aberrant Ensigns:


In addition to introducing the wreath and crown to the Red Ensigns, the article in the Canadian Illustrated News foretold of another aberration: the extension of the badge to acknowledge additional provinces.

The Dominion Arms consist at present of the shields of the four Provinces, quartered in the order ... Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick; but it is only reasonable to expect that they will, before long, be further supplemented with the shields of Manitoba and British Columbia.

Indeed, what could be more reasonable? The catch was that, officially, the badge of the Dominion consisted solely of the quartered arms of the four founding provinces. Not only was there no provision to add arms to the badge, the new provinces as they came along did not even have any arms to add.

It did not take long to discover how the inconsistency would be resolved. Manitoba had joined Confederation in July 15, 1870, and although they had no arms, within a few weeks (August 2, 1870) the Privy Council in Ottawa approved a great seal.34 Above a buffalo with his head turned toward the viewer, was a royal crown in the centre of Saint George's cross. Although not arms, this would do; in short order, manufacturers had added it to the badge to produce a five-province Red Ensign. This aberrant ensign had introduced more than just a device for Manitoba; in what was to become the standard for years to come, the wreath had been split with maple to the left (heraldically the dexter side and position of honour) and oak (representing England) to the right. Just what produced this latter innovation is unclear, but it was common to all of the manufacturers. What was not yet standard, however, was whether or not the badge should be placed on a white roundel: some did it, some did not.


Aberrant Ensigns:


Within a year (on June 20, 1871), British Columbia had swollen the ranks to six provinces. British Columbia presented a problem that Manitoba did not. While it had a great seal, still in use from its colonial days, the pattern was completely inappropriate for use as an emblem of the province. The seal showed Queen Victoria with full robes, sceptre and orb, seated on a throne.35

The device adopted as an emblem for British Columbia was the royal crest flanked by the letters B and C, and a wreath of laurel and oak. The origin of the emblem is unknown. It does not seem to have ever been used to produce a six-province badge or ensign.

On July 1, 1873, Prince Edward Island entered Confederation, and, unlike British Columbia, brought with it a great seal readily adaptable as a badge. The seal showed saplings, representing the province, beside a large oak, representing Britain, with the motto, PARVA SUB INGENTI (the small under the protection of the great). It was essentially the same pattern that had appeared on the great seal of Prince Edward Island since 1769 when it was used for what then had been called the Island of Saint John (Île Saint-Jean).

By late 1874, the devices for British Columbia and Prince Edward Island had been added to the those of the other five provinces.36 The resulting seven-province shield was, by itself, a marvel of quasi-heraldic clutter, but with the addition of a wreath and crown, it became a dog's breakfast of devices. Not content to leave it alone at that, the designers added a beaver to the base of the wreath. The composite was in the best tradition of Canadian compromise: a little something for everyone, and, of course, the result got popularly dubbed the Arms of Canada.

The seven-province Red Ensign was flown enthusiastically and in great numbers across the country for a third of a century. It spoke of Canada, all of its provinces, and its relation to the empire. It was flown on ships, hotels, mine works, stores, manufacturing plants, and private homes. Many pictures survive showing it flying over the Victoria Tower of the pre-1916 parliament buildings. For public occasions, its use seemed required. An observer in the 1890s commented that parliamentary usage is to hoist the Canadian Red Ensign over the central tower of the Parliament Buildings for the opening and closing of parliament and for special occasions such as national holidays,37 and that the ensign hoisted "is the erroneous flag, so commonly everywhere displayed at that." He further complained that:

When the Intercolonial Conference met at Ottawa, in 1894, the House being in session, there floated from the Parliament tower, from the Department blocks, and from half of the public and private buildings in town, a collection of ensigns, with the Dominion badge in all forms of incorrectness, garlands, and the Dominion badge, in many case, about twice as large as the Imperial Union Jack itself!38

Usually the seven-province ensign is easily recognizable in pictures of the time by its familiar white roundel even when details of the badge are indecipherable. The white roundel was rarely used for earlier ensigns, never for later ones, and of all the seven-province ensigns the author has seen, only one early example did not place the badge on a white roundel.

The use of the seven-province shield was not confined to ensigns; it appeared everywhere. Occasionally accompanied by the wreath, but always with the crown, it was widely consumed by the public on statues, book covers, spoons, china and jewellery. Illustrations of the seven-province ensign were used on everything from Victorian cheesecake to the government's general service medal awarded in 1898 to those who repulsed the Fenian raids. The seven-province badge was the strident statement of Canadian identity of the late nineteenth century.

As these aberrant ensigns bore a crown, they underwent a change in 1901. During the Victorian era, the Saint Edward's crown (with the depressed arches) had been used, but upon the accession of Edward VII, in 1901, the (Tudor) crown with raised arches was adopted. The seven-province ensign with the Tudor crown continued until late in the first decade of the twentieth century. It began to be supplanted by the nine-province ensign in 1907.


Aberrant Ensigns:


In the two years between May 1905 and May 1907, not only had the two new provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta been formed and brought into Confederation, but the five non-armigerous provinces were granted arms. The inevitable result was, of course, a nine-province ensign which continued to be used up until 1922. Although all provincial arms were now represented correctly, the ensign was still aberrant for the proper Canadian ensign badge remained that of the four founding provinces only. The nine-province ensigns that were produced sometimes appeared with a wreath, crown and beaver and sometimes without these adornments, but they seem never to have used the white roundel so characteristic of the seven-province ensign.

In the previous chapter, a description is given of the remarkable and rapid transformation of the Union Flag into the dominant flag of Canada at the beginning of the twentieth century. So, even before the seven-province gave way to the nine-province ensign, the Canadian ensigns (whether proper or aberrant) had begun to suffer a decline in popularity. Nevertheless, the Canadian Red Ensign was not completely vanquished among the public, for as Sir Joseph Pope lamented at the time:

Go where you will throughout the Dominion you will find the flag of the Canadian Mercantile Marine proudly floating in the breeze-it may be over a private residence a thousand miles inland-which had not the most remote connection with the sea or anything belonging to it.39

World War I arrived during the tenure of this nine-province flag, yet such was the ascendancy of the Union Flag at this time that, a half century later, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson asserted:

The Red Ensign, though many of my correspondents do not seem to appreciate this, was not used during World War I in any way, shape or form for the Canadian forces.40

However, Pearson was wrong. Although the Union Flag may have dominated, the Canadian Red Ensign did accompany the Canadian Corps in France and Flanders and ultimately it marked the entrance of the army of occupation into Germany.41 In Britain, a Punch illustration used the it to pay tribute to the Canadian Expeditionary Force's heroic stand against the first poison-gas attack at the Battle of Ypres, April 22-24, 1915. In Canada, it was used to rally support on a recruitment poster,42 and, if the number of nine-province red ensigns that have survived is any indication, the flag was frequently to be seen on the home front. (Major General Currie, it has been noted, used the Canadian Blue Ensign during World War I.)

Even though the Union Flag received wide support in the first portion of this century, the Canadian Red Ensign would not go away, as is illustrated anecdotally by the two grandfathers of the author. One lived in Ontario and flew the Union Flag, the other lived in British Columbia and flew both the Union Flag and the Canadian Red Ensign. The ensign he flew bore the nine-province badge.43


Aberrant Ensigns:


The transition from seven to nine-province ensigns had some odd twists. In the late nineteenth century it was already apparent that the Canadian badge, whether the proper one or the aberrant one, was too cluttered. In 1896, a Toronto barrister named E.M. Chadwick, was the first person to argue in print for a simpler Canadian badge, involving only a maple leaf, for use on the ensign.44 Although Chadwick was a Conservative,45 the ensign with the single maple leaf was soon used promotionally by the Liberals. It continued to be a favourite with them past World War II when, in a speech to the Canadian Legion, Prime Minister Mackenzie King advocated its adoption as the national flag.

Chadwick's contributions to badge of the Canadian Red Ensign did not stop there. Edward Marion Chadwick had been born in September 22, 1840 in Ancaster, Ontario, and he died in December 15, 1921,46 a month after he, presumably, had the satisfaction of knowing that George V had granted arms to Canada. He had an abiding interest in flags and heraldry, and as an enthusiastic amateur armorist, he played a major role in the designing of arms for Ontario,47 Saskatchewan,48 and the Yukon.49

Some time between 1898 and 1903,50 Chadwick designed what he called an "écu complet" or complete escutcheon for Canada. It was a composite of nine shields, but as the country still only had seven provinces, the total was reached by adding the two territories. Five of the shields were the same as those on the seven-province badge; two were altered, B.C and Prince Edward Island; and two were created, N.W.T. and Yukon. The new P.E.I was Chadwick's invention as are Yukon's mountains and the Northwest Territories' polar bear. The altered British Columbia shield resulted from an 1896 great seal for that province which showed the rising sun in the chief and the Union Flag in the base. Chadwick's innovation was to add a face on the sun.

Although we know that Chadwick made some suggestions for his composite arms as early as 1898 (they were sent to Lord Aberdeen who ceased being governor general in November of that year), the form of the écu that we see on bric-a-brac and flags must be from after 1901, for, when a crown appears, it is always the Tudor crown which was used only after the accession of Edward VII. Further, as none of the surviving samples of the écu which can be dated are from before 1903, we will assume that the spread of the design to the public, and its resulting use on merchandise, did not occur before 1903. Chadwick's écu appeared as a badge on ensigns both with and without the wreath and we can safely assume that these flags were from the period 1903 to 1905.

Between 1905 and 1907 all of the remaining provinces (but not the territories) were granted arms. As manufacturers corrected the individual arms on the composite shield, the pattern changed rapidly presenting a useful method of dating. Figure xx is from the period of late 1905 to early 1906, for Manitoba (granted arms May 10, 1905) and Prince Edward Island (granted arms May 30, 1905) are both correct, but British Columbia (granted arms March 31, 1906) is not. Figure xx is from mid-1906 for British Columbia is now proper, but Saskatchewan (granted arms August 26, 1906) is not. Figures xx and xx show two ensigns from late 1906 to early 1907 for Alberta (granted arms May 30, 1907) is the only one missing. One flag substitutes Chadwick's fanciful Yukon arms for Alberta, while the next substitutes his arms for the Northwest Territories.

These arms were surprisingly portable for the manufacturers actually were using them to represent Alberta rather than the territories that Chadwick had intended. In the temporary absence of proper arms for Alberta, this license became fairly common as can be seen in a stained-glass window done in 190751 and on a postcard issued in 1907.52

Chadwick gave us some delightfully idiosyncratic ensigns. His influence was felt for a long time. In the mid 1950s, a pillar of the Canadian banking community thought that two of Chadwick's designs were official (Figure xx: Bank of Commerce blotter). One amusing Chadwick residual is a remark in the 1953 edition of the book Flags of the World.53 Its British author, Gresham Carr, was apparently unwilling to blame the fanciful Yukon arms on a Canadian and so put the blame for perpetrating a "quite unauthorized" act on, who else but, the Americans.

Actually, although just an enthusiastic amateur, Chadwick's influence is still with us. The flag of Saskatchewan displays the arms he designed. The flag of the Yukon shows arms, that, while not Chadwick's, contain his motif of snow-covered mountains and gold. The flag of the Northwest Territories has arms quite unlike Chadwick's, but his polar-bear motif is found on their widely used Travel Arctic flag. Not a bad record.


Canada's Second Ensign Badge:


It is often said that Canadian nationalism came home in the baggage of the soldiers from the World War I. The soldiers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force had fought World War I under the Union Flag, which, as members of the British Empire, was their flag as much as anyone else's. However, they desired to be recognized as Canadians, and this was provided, at least in part, by their maple-leaf-covered badges.

The increased Canadian consciousness that came home with the soldiers in 1919 caused the pendulum to swing from the Union Flag back towards the Canadian Red Ensign. The shift was not strong enough that it would have been possible to persuade the country to adopt the ensign as the national flag, as was evidenced by the fuss in the country and parliament when a government committee was appointed in 1925 to report on the adoption of a national flag. The support for the Union Flag forced Prime Minister Mackenzie King to disband the committee. Nevertheless, the Canadian Red Ensign was coming back into its own.

The Canadian Red Ensign that emerged shortly after the war, was not the cluttered and aberrant ensigns of the past. The new badge was the shield of the recently granted arms of Canada. The previous situation where each province had arms, but the Dominion had not, was inappropriate, especially in the light of the increased feelings of Canadian nationalism. On March 26, 1919, Prime Minister, Sir Robert Borden appointed a committee to advise on a granting of arms from King George V.54 The arms they proposed were, with a most curious and significant change, the arms that George V granted on November 21, 1921.

Based on the committee report, on April 30, 1921 a Canadian government order-in-council requested a shield which had as its base, "argent three maple leaves slipped vert" or three green maple leaves upon a silver field. It was the colour of the maple leaves on the shield that was at issue, for the maple leaf held by the lion in the crest was red, and the mantling was red and white.55 The mantling established Canada's national colours as red and white. The red maple leaf in the crest, consistent with the national colours, was in striking contrast to the colour of the leaves on the shield. When the proclamation of arms arrived, it read "Argent three maple leaves conjoined on one stem proper." The "proper" indicated that the colour of the leaves on the shield was to be that of natural maple leaves, which included not only the requested green, but also yellow, or red. This subtlety was not to bother anyone for many years; for now, green leaves it was.

One other detail of interest for the ensign badge was third quarter of the shield: the Irish harp. This had been merely specified as "Azure A harp or stringed argent" which meant a golden harp with silver strings on a blue field. At the time the arms were granted, this was interpreted as being the same representation of a harp as appears upon the royal arms (and royal standard): a harp bearing the naked torso of a winged maiden. This, like the colour of the maple leaves, was to change in a later version of the arms, and so also on the badge of the ensigns.

On April 26, 1922, by order-in-council, the government authorized the shield of the recently granted arms to be used as the badge on both the Canadian Red and Blue Ensigns.56 This created the second official form of these ensigns, and now this satisfactory badge displaced all of the previous aberrant ones.

By now the Canadian Blue Ensign and its twin the Canadian Blue Jack had four different functions. As an ensign, it was worn at the stern of all governmental vessels other than warships, and it replaced the Canadian Red Ensign at the stern of merchantmen if the Captain and some of the crew were officers in the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve. As a jack it appeared at the bow of all governmental ships, whether warships or not. However, on warships the jack had the same shape as the ensigns: twice as long as it was wide. It also appeared at the bow of other government vessels, but there, the Canadian Blue Jack was nearly square. Thus, essentially the same flag, distinguishable only by its shape, flew at both the bow and the stern of non-belligerent governmental vessels. For example, RCMP cruisers in the 1930s flew a Canadian Blue Ensign at the stern and a (square) Canadian Blue Jack at the bow.57

On January 26, 1924, two years after the new badge was authorized, the official use of the Canadian Red Ensign was extended by another order-in-council. Now the flag was authorized for use on all Canadian buildings outside Canada. Although it now represented the Dominion in London, Geneva, and, shortly afterwards, in Washington, Paris and Tokyo, the Union Flag still flew over the Parliament Buildings at home.58 Although sentiments of Canadian nationalism were rising in the west, and they had always been high in Québec, Ontario remained fervently imperialistic. As an editorial in the Toronto Mail and Empire of June 5, 1925, put it:

... all the rules the ordinary flag owner need pay attention to are few and simple. For him is just one flag that can properly be flown; that is the Union Jack.59

In a somewhat more descriptive than prescriptive mood, a 1926 "manual of Canadian citizenship" produced by the National Council of Education billed the Canadian Red Ensign as the "National Emblem of Canada." School children of the day were assured that in addition to the use of the Canadian ensign on ships and on Canadian buildings abroad, it

is used at home by many of our citizens within the boundaries of the Dominion itself, as a symbol of our national freedom and independence within the Empire.60

Up until 1934, the use of the Canadian Red Ensign by merchant ships was based on the acquiescence in 1892 of the British Admiralty to the Canadian request. With formal independence gained in 1931 through the Statute of Westminster, the Canadian government moved to establish its own shipping regulations, and, concomitantly, authority over its merchant flag. The 1934 Canada Shipping Act read:

The red ensign usually worn by merchant ships with the shield of the coat of arms of Canada in the fly is hereby declared to be the proper national colours for all ships registered in Canada and all ships and boats which would be registered in Canada if they were required to be registered at all.61

While questions of flag usage can lie unsettled for many years during peacetime, a war forces them to be addressed. In World War I, the Union Flag failed to distinguish Canadian soldiers as anything but a part of the great British effort. The Canadian independence and self-assurance that followed that first great conflict would not permit a similar merging of identities a second time. To distinguish the Canadian combatants, the War Committee of the Cabinet had the Battle Flag created (approved December 7, 1939). Designed by Colonel A. Fortescue Duguid, Director of the Historical Section of the General Staff of the National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa, it had a white field, the Union Flag in the canton, three red maple leaves on one stem in the centre, and three golden fleurs-de-lis on a blue roundel in the upper fly.

In the early years of World War II, patriotic illustrations representing the services would show three flags: this battle flag of the army, the light blue ensign of the RCAF (approved in July 5, 1940), and the white ensign of the RCN. Although the Union Flag appeared in the canton of each flag, it rarely appeared on its own in such illustrations, as had been the pattern in the first war in spite of the fact that the King's Rules and Regulations (Canada) 1939, familiarly known as "K R Can" stated categorically that the flag of Canada "was the Union Jack."62 When the country as a whole was to be illustrated, the Canadian Red Ensign was invariably used.

The battle flag went overseas with troops, but it was a montage that sought to please many, and consequently pleased few. An editorial in The Maple Leaf, an armed forces newspaper published in London, noted that there was "Overwhelming opposition to the Canadian flag proposed by Col. Duguid ... [as] is shown in letters which have deluged The Maple Leaf office." (December 10, 1945) The flag fell into disuse. Meanwhile, the Canadian Red Ensign was gaining ground.

In 1943 August, during one of the periodic meetings at which the western allies' strategy was decided, Prime Minister Mackenzie King was host in Québec to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and American President Franklin D. Roosevelt. This occasion demanded the hoisting of the flags of the three participant countries; the use of the Canadian Red Ensign for Canada was likely the first time in forty years that it had been used officially by the government to represent the country upon Canadian territory. The arrangements, presumably made by Britain, were at first not satisfactory. King was annoyed when he saw "the Canadian flag beneath the Union Jack, the day that Churchill arrived."63 After speaking to Churchill about the slight, he ordered all the flags to be flown at the same height with the Canadian Red Ensign in the central position of honour.

The ensign's stock continued to rise as its use was extended to both the air force and the army. On November 10, 1943, a routine order stated:

The Canadian Red Ensign with a shield of the Coat-of-Arms of Canada in the fly is to be flown in addition to the R.C.A.F. Ensign, at all units of the R.C.A.F. serving with the forces of other nations.

Shortly thereafter, on January 22, 1944, a comparable routine order extended the use of the Canadian Red Ensign to the army. That Mackenzie King was a convert was clear from his recommendation to the cabinet on April 28, 1944:

that Canada take the Canadian Ensign and accept it at once as her national flag; not wait to design a special flag. Later a Committee could be appointed to consider new designs.

However, nothing more was done officially until the war was over a year and a half later.64

Thus, for the latter third of the war, not only the Canadian forces knew that they were fighting under the Canadian Red Ensign, but publications such as the Star Weekly, a weekend newspaper supplement, made the public well aware of it.

As the previous conflict had done, World War II enhanced national pride and confidence; many of those soldiers who went overseas thinking of themselves as British subjects came back as Canadians. So it was that the House of Commons was informed on October 1, 1945, that:

The Red Ensign is being flown from the Tower of the Houses of Parliament under authority of Order-in-Council, P.C. 5888, passed September 5, 1945. ... The Order-in-Council contained these provisions:

That until such time as action is taken by parliament for the formal adoption of a national flag, it is desirable to authorize the flying of the Canadian Red Ensign on federal government buildings within as well as without Canada, and to remove any doubt as to the propriety of flying the Canadian Red Ensign wherever place or occasion may make it desirable to fly a distinctive Canadian flag.

Nothing herein shall be deemed to alter in any way the provisions now in force with respect to the flying of the Blue Ensign with the Shield of the coat of Arms of Canada in the fly on Canadian naval vessels and other government vessels, nor with respect to the flying of the Canadian Red Ensign on Canadian Merchant vessels.

Finally, after having flown the Canadian Red Ensign informally for about three-quarters of a century, Canadians had received official sanction for their actions. The order-in-council stopped short of declaring it the national flag of Canada, instead gave it a provisional status "until such time as action is taken by parliament for the formal adoption of a national flag". This was a point that was often ignored over the next twenty years by ardent supporters of the flag.65

By 1945, the country's mood had reached the middle ground which made the Canadian Red Ensign a comfortable compromise between the imperialists who wished to return to the Union Flag and the ardent nationalists who wished a national flag that was solely Canadian in content. For the next twenty years, the federal government walked the fence with the policy that both the Union Flag and the Red Ensign were official. As an observer noted in 1958:

Flags on government buildings are supplied from two sources. The Defence Department issues them to its establishments across the country, while the Public Works supplies flags for other Government buildings. Public Works flies the red ensign on all Ottawa buildings, but each of its districts may order either the ensign or the Union Jack. It is purely a matter of local preference, Ottawa officials say.66

The mood was shifting. If in 1958, Public Works flew the Canadian Red Ensign on all Ottawa buildings, it did not seem to have been the policy for long, as, during the tenure of Louis Saint Laurent as Prime Minister (1948-1957), the Union Flag was flown at his residence (and occasionally even flown upside down). In the fifties, most provinces were using the Canadian Red Ensign if, unlike Quebec and Nova Scotia, they had no flag of their own. Exceptions were Newfoundland and Manitoba which mandated the Union Flag.67

The Royal visits in the fifties revealed the changing perspective. In 1951 when Princess Elizabeth visited, she was met by a sea of Union Flags; only a few Canadian Red Ensigns were in evidence. During the 1957 visit when Elizabeth returned as our Queen, she found Ottawa festooned with Canadian Red Ensigns. Whereas on the earlier visit, school children had been given little Union Flags to wave, this time they were given the Ensign. When the Queen of Canada entered the United States during both the 1957 and 1959 visits, the Canadian Red Ensign accompanied the Stars and Stripes on the lamp posts along her route down Pennsylvania Avenue.


Canada's Third Ensign Badge:


On many occasions since the Canadian arms were granted in 1921, it had been noted that it would be more appropriate if the green maple leaves on the shield were red in keeping with Canada's national colours. Correspondingly, red leaves were used on the battle flag of 1939, numerous RCAF and RCN wartime badges, and the Canadian Army badge adopted in 1947. Finally on October 8, 1957, the government announced changes in the depiction of the arms. A number of stylistic changes were made at this time, but only the ones made to the shield affected the ensign badge: the green leaves were changed to red to accord with Canada's national colours; and, at the Queen's request, that purely English invention,68 the female harp, was replaced by the old Celtic harp. This new depiction of the shield produced the third official version of the ensign. The revised design was completed just in time to have Ottawa awash in the ensigns of the new pattern for the visit of Queen Elizabeth that year.

Unfortunately, in switching to the new design, an error was introduced (probably euphemistically justified at the time as a simplification). The author has not seen a single commercially manufactured Canadian Red Ensign with the red leaves that does not suffer from this error. The problem is found in the second (upper right) quarter of the shield where there appears the rampant lion of Scotland. This is supposed to be surrounded by a double red border described heraldically as a "double tressure flory-counter-flory gules". This pattern, which contains fleurs-de-lis recalling Scotland's ancient alliance with France, also appears in the flag of Nova Scotia. On the old green-leaf ensigns (1922-1957) it was always represented correctly, but on the red-leaf ensigns (1957-1965) the double border was sloppily reduced to a single one.

The flag, the last of a long line of official and unofficial Canadian Red Ensigns, lasted until noon of February 15, 1965, when it was lowered for the last time at the parliament buildings, having been discomfited in its role as Canada's flag by the Maple Leaf Flag. The great flag debate of 1964 had revealed that Canadians were finally ready for a flag without colonial connotations: a flag that spoke of Canada alone.

Although the final version of the Canadian Red Ensign had a short official life of less than eight years, in its subsequent unofficial use, it may yet outlive all of its predecessors. It is still being manufactured and sold to those who revere the contributions the ensigns made. For, although the Canadian Red Ensign died a justifiable death, it left a variegated wake that chronicled a century of national development.

We leave the final word on this flag to a veteran of World War II, R. Thurlow Fraser, who wrote with great feeling at the time its passing in his regular column in a small-town newspaper:

I am one of many who would have been very pleased to have seen the Red Ensign continue to be flown as the flag of Canada and have felt a keen sense of loss and disappointment that it seems doomed to disappear from the Canadian scene as a national symbol.

However, the new flag is here, it was accepted by parliament, it was given royal assent, it was dedicated as Canada's flag and it is recognized officially around the world as Canada's national symbol. It is therefore right and proper that we should put aside any feelings of grief or loss over the flag under which so many of us served and that we should now show our respect and loyalty to the new flag. As in the case of personal loss and grief over a departed member of one's own family it would be foolish to hug grief and pain to one's self and refuse to face up to reality, so it is with our feelings for the Red Ensign. We are all Canadians and this new flag is Canada's flag.69


This is the chapter on the Canadian Red Ensign from the book,
The Flags of Canada, by Alistair B. Fraser.
This work is copyrighted. All rights reserved.



1. John Skirving Ewart, "The Canadian Flag," The Canadian Magazine (1907), 30:1, pp. 332-35. Reprinted in The Kingdom of Canada, (Toronto: Morang, 1908), pp. 65­71.

2. Norah Story, The Oxford Companion to Canadian History and Literature (Toronto: Oxford, 1967), p. 657.

3. Joseph Pope, The Flag of Canada (Ottawa: Pope, 1912), p. 12.

4. Story, The Oxford Companion, p. 245.

5. John Skirving Ewart, Sir John A. Macdonald and the Canadian Flag (Ottawa: Ewart, c. 1908), p. 11.

6. John Ross Matheson, Canada's Flag: A Search for a Country (Boston: G.K. Hall, 1980), p. 61.

7. Matheson, Canada's Flag, p. 116.

8. Timothy Wilson, Flags at Sea (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1986), pp. 14-15.

9. Wilson, Flags at Sea, p. 18.

10. Wilson, Flags at Sea, p. 33.

11. W.G. Perrin, British Flags (Cambridge: Cambridge, 1922), pp. 115-17.

12. Hudson's Bay Company Archives A.24/31, p. 35.

13. Private communication from Shirlee Ann Smith, Keeper Hudson's Bay Company Archives, Winnipeg. Although the Hudson's Bay Ensign had been used since at least 1818, this use went unauthorized until 1929 when the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty issued a warrant for the Company to use the letters HB.C. as a badge on the Red Ensign.

14. Wilson, Flags at Sea, p. 98.

15. Wilson, Flags at Sea, p. 41.

16. Wilson, Flags at Sea, p. 40.

17. Wilson, Flags at Sea, p. 34.

18. Barlow Cumberland, History of the Union Jack (Toronto: William Briggs, 1909), p. 283.

19. Ewart, "The Canadian Flag."

20. Conrad Swan, Canada: Symbols of Sovereignty (Toronto: U. of Toronto, 1977), p. 123.

21. The Colonist (Victoria, June 17, 1871). The use of the Canadian Blue Ensign as the flag of the Dominion on the occasion of British Columbia's entry into Confederation produced a smug article nearly a century later in The Daily Colonist (Victoria, March 6, 1966) in which it was averred that the wrong flag had been used. To support this position, the egregious article from the Canadian Illustrated News (Montréal, May 6, 1871), p. 281, was quoted.

22. Canadian Illustrated News (Montréal, February 26, 1870), p. 265.

23. Ewart, "The Canadian Flag."

24. Ewart, "The Canadian Flag."

25. Ewart, "The Canadian Flag."

26. Ewart, "The Canadian Flag."

27. Ewart, "The Canadian Flag."

28. Canadian Illustrated News (Montréal, May 6, 1871), pp. 280-81.

29. Canadian Illustrated News (Montréal, March 2, 1872), p. 136.

30. Copy of Treaty and Supplementary Treaty No. 7, made 22nd Sept., and 4th Dec., 1877, between Her Majesty the Queen and the Blackfeet and other Indian Tribes at the Blackfoot Crossing of Bow River and Fort MacLeod. (Available as a reprint, QS-0575-000-EE-A1, from the Communications Branch, Ottawa).

31. It is preserved in the Glenbow Museum in Calgary (Paris Number 9132)

32. Fred Gaffen, "British Flags presented to the Indians," The Flag Bulletin, XXI, 5/96 (1982), pp. 153-64.

33. George Brown and Ron Maguire, Indian Treaties in Historical Perspective, (Ottawa: Ministry of Indian Affairs and Northern Development QS-3291-000-EE-A1, 1983), p. xxv.

34. Swan, Canada: Symbols of Sovereignty, p. 195.

35. Swan, Canada: Symbols of Sovereignty, p. 183.

36. Canadian Illustrated News (Montréal, December 5, 1874), p. 353.

37. Colin Campbell, "The Flag of our Country" Canadian Almanac (Toronto: Copp, Clark, 1894), p. 196.

38. Colin Campbell, "The Imperial and Canadian Flags" Canadian Almanac (Toronto: Copp, Clark, 1895), p. 217.

39. Joseph Pope, The Flag of Canada (Ottawa: Pope, 1912), p. 10.

40. Matheson, Canada's Flag, p. 82.

41. Peter Stursberg Lester Pearson and the Dream of Unity (Toronto: Doubleday, 1968), pp. 163-164.

42. National Archives of Canada, NAC negative C-42420

43. In the years before the First World War, the Reverend Dr. Thurlow Fraser would fly the Union Flag on the manse of the Division Street Presbyterian Church in Owen Sound, Ontario, and Mr. Oswald Bisson would fly both the Canadian Red Ensign and the Union Flag on his grocery Store, Agnew and Co., in Rossland, British Columbia.

44. E.M. Chadwick, "The Canadian Flag" Canadian Almanac (Toronto: Copp, Clark, 1896), pp. 227-228, 233.

45. Henry James Morgan, The Canadian Men and Women of the Time (Toronto: Briggs, 1912), p. 215.

46. W. Stewart Wallace, Macmillan Dictionary of Canadian Bibliography (Toronto: Macmillan, 3rd ed. 1963).

47. Swan, Canada: Symbols of Sovereignty, p. 162.

48. Swan, Canada: Symbols of Sovereignty, p. 203.

49. C.R. Maier, "The Yukon Coat of Arms" Heraldry in Canada, (1982), XVI:3, p.9-13, and Richard Roberts, "An interesting Porcelain Plate-2" Heraldry in Canada (1983), XVII:3, pp. 4-7.

50. Richard Roberts, "An interesting Porcelain Plate" Heraldry in Canada, (1979) XIII:3, pp. 8-10.

51. R.D. Watt, "A Polar Bear Passant" Heraldry in Canada (1976), X, pp. 11-12.

52. W.L. Gutzeman, The Canadian Post Card Handbook (Toronto: The Unitide Press, 1985).

53. H. Gresham Carr, Flags of the World (London:Frederick Warne, 1953), p. 53.

54. Matheson, Canada's Flag, p. 9.

55. Matheson, Canada's Flag, p. 19.

56. Charles P. Band and Emilie L. Stovel, Our Flag (Toronto: Musson, 1926), pp. 35, 36.

57. S.W. Horrall, The Pictorial History of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson,1973), picture on p. 216.

58. George F.G. Stanley, The Story of Canada's Flag (Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1965), p. 34.

59. Quoted from Matheson, Canada's Flag, p. 25.

60. Charles Norris Cochrane and William Stewart Wallace, This Canada of Ours (Toronto: National Council of Education, 1926), pp. 45, 46.

61. T.S. Ewart, A Flag for Canada: principles of design (Ottawa: Ewart, 1947), p. 8.

62. Matheson, Canada's Flag, p. 39.

63. J.W. Pickersgill, The Mackenzie King Record (Toronto. 1960), Vol. 1. p. 593.

64. Matheson, Canada's Flag, pp. 39, 40.

65. John G. Diefenbaker was among the many who chose to read the announcement selectively. In his book One Canada (Toronto: Macmillan, 1977), p. 223, he discusses the flag debate and asserts that the Canadian Red Ensign "was officially recognized as Canada's flag by Order-in-Council in 1945."

66. Irene Craig, Flags and Formalities (Toronto: W.J.Gage, 1958), p. 34.

67. Craig, Flags and Formalities, pp. 57, 47.

68. Guy Cadogan Rothery, ABC of Heraldry (London: Stanley Paul, 1915), p. 195.

69. R. Thurlow Fraser, "Philately with Fraser: The National Flag" Nelson Daily News (Nelson, B.C., June 26, 1965).


This is the chapter on the Canadian Red Ensign from the book,
The Flags of Canada, by Alistair B. Fraser.
This work is copyrighted. All rights reserved.