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


Chap XII:


(from many peoples strength)
Motto of Saskatchewan


Until 1870, the land that was to become the province of Saskatchewan lay under the suzerainty of the Hudson's Bay Company's flag. In that year Canada purchased the land and there ensued a series of treaties whereby Indian tribes relinquished their territorial rights in exchanged for reserve lands, monetary payments, schooling, and miscellaneous minor considerations such as flags. Beyond the treaties, flags were also presented to various Indian chiefs, councillors and headmen for loyalty to the Crown and Canada at any time, but especially following the 1885 Rebellion. These flags were usually the Canadian Red or Blue Ensign which served to emphasize the Canadian sovereignty of the land.1

This sovereignty was interrupted in May 1885 when the Métis battle standard was raised over the headquarters of their provisional government at Batoche. The flag bore a hand, a wolf's head, and two scrolls proclaiming, "maisons, autels," and "Surtout Liberté" (homes, altars, above all freedom).2 The suggested meaning of the symbols being: "we lift our hand in prayer to the Lord that he may grant us the courage of the wolf to defend our homes."3 By the end of June, and with Riel in captivity, sovereignty, if not justice, had returned to the prairies.

The rich soil of the prairies provided Saskatchewan's primary symbol even while it was still part of Canadas North-West Territories. Within a couple of years of the beginning of the twentieth century, E.M. Chadwick designed a composite shield for Canada, his écu complet, which included a proposed design for the arms of the North-West Territories. In the chief it bore a polar bear to represent the northern climes; in the base, four sheaves of wheat to represent the agriculturally rich prairies. The sheaves, reduced to three in number, were incorporated into Saskatchewan's arms on August 25, 1906, shortly after the province was created on September 1, 1905. In the chief of the new arms was one of the Royal Lions of England. We know of no evidence that Saskatchewan ever made any use of the resulting armorial banner.


Saskatchewan gets a flag

In 1964, with the province's 60th anniversary approaching, Saskatchewan held a contest to design a flag to mark the occasion. Saskatchewan's Diamond Jubilee Flag, chosen out of 241 entries was a bicolour of red over green. At the hoist was a single stalk of wheat and in the upper fly, the provincial arms.4 The green represented luxuriant growth while the red suggested the fires which swept the Prairies in the early days before cultivation.5 The use of this flag was soon extended to the Centennial celebrations of 1967. For these events, the flag was widely flown as if it were the provincial flag, and indeed, its sponsors hoped that it would, in fact, become the provincial flag.

However, the flag did not gain the acceptance its promoters had hoped and another contest was held. The winning entry, which was chosen from among 4025 submissions, became the provincial flag on Monday, September 22, 1969. Like its predecessor it is a bicolour, but of green, representing the northern woods, over yellow, representing the southern grain fields. The provincial shield now occupies the position of honour in the upper hoist, while the provincial flower, the western red lily, occupies the fly.


The Lieutenant-Governor

On September 26, 1981, the Governor General approved the new-pattern flag of the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan. Up until that time, the lieutenant governors had made virtually no use of the old pattern flag: the Saskatchewan shield within a wreath of maple leaves in the centre of a Union Flag.

Commenting in 1956, a person, in a good position to know, wrote:

during my eighteen years [1938-1956] as Secretary to the Lieutenant Governor a flag has never been flown on a Governor's car. During the years when we had a Government House the Union Jack was always flown during the day when the Lieutenant Governor was in residence, but since moving into the Hotel Saskatchewan the practise has been discontinued.6

However, this absence of a distinctive flag did change temporarily during the tenure of the Honourable F.L. Bastedo. In 1958 he wrote:

I had a small flag made for use on my car for official occasions, similar to that used by most of the Lieutenant Governors, being the Union Jack, with the Coat of Arms of the Province in the centre, surrounded by a cluster of maple leaves.7

Mr. Bastedo left office in 1963, and his successors apparently dropped the idea, for thereafter all evidence indicates that up until 1981 they used the Union Flag, the National Flag or the provincial flag.8

And there the issue should sit, except for one tantalizing hint that just maybe the Lieutenant Governor's flag for Saskatchewan was used in the early years of the century. A pamphlet (undated but probably printed in 1923) issued by the Saskatchewan Minister of Education for classroom use, bears a striking colour drawing of the flag. This might have just been presumption on the Minister's part, but maybe he knew something that we now don't.9


Flags of Occasion

Mention has already been made of the province's best known flag of occasion: Saskatchewan's Diamond Jubilee flag. The province also had a flag for its 75th anniversary in 1980, but this time the anniversary logotype, a wheat stook with the appearance of crossed S's, was merely placed on a white field.

Although the Western Canada Games are not confined to Saskatchewan, the special flag used in 1987 when the games were in Regina is shown as a sample.


University flag

The University of Regina flies a bicolour that transposing colours provincial flag places gold over green. arms are placed in upper hoist.


Municipal flags

The capital city of Regina is one of Canada's royal cities, named, as it is, after Queen Victoria who was the sovereign when the city was formed in 1884. This status is reflected in the city's flag, both in the crown it bears and in its field of royal purple. The crown sits on yellow roundel with a white border suggestive of city's place at the heart of Canada's bread basket.10

In 1952, during the preparations for the city's 70th anniversary, the City Council of Saskatoon approved a municipal flag. The flag bears the city arms on a white roundel, and a spray of Saskatoon berries on a green panel at the hoist. On the fly, seven white stripes on a yellow background represent the seven districts of the city. Apparently the flag was not used at the time of the anniversary and rested largely forgotten but for a large painting of it hanging in the city transit garage. Rejuvenated in 1966 during preparations for the national centennial, it has flown in the city ever since.11

Like Saskatoon, many other cities in Saskatchewan place either the municipal seal or arms on their flag. For a background for their arms: North Battleford uses green, and Weyburn uses white. Three cities, Yorkton,12 Swift Current, and Estevan, use the municipal seal. The design adopted by Estevan mimics an ensign by placing the national maple leaf on a white canton, and the seal on the fly. The colours of the field, gold over black, recall the wheat and coal, both of which are abundant in the region.13

Two cities have placed a symbol representing the community in the centre of a Canadian pale. Both Moose Jaw and Prince Albert chose the colours from the provincial flag to make flags of green, yellow, green. Prince Albert combines four triangles representing fur, fish, forestry, and farming, to build a symbolic tree,14 while Moose Jaw wins the national contest for instant recognizability with a lifelike rendition of a moose head.15


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



1. See the correspondence between Indian Commissioners and the Department of Indian Affairs in Ottawa in the National Archives, (RG 10, Vol. 3784, File 40984).

2. Charlebois, Peter, The Life of Louis Riel (Toronto: NC Press, 1975), p. 193, 196.

3. Racette, Calvin, Flags of the Métis (Regina: Gabriel Dumont Institute, 1987), p. 24.

4. The flag was designed by Sister Imelda of St. Angela's Convent at Prelate, northwest of Swift Current. See: "Diamond Jubilee Flag selected," Jubilee-Centennial Notebook, Vol. 1, No. 4 (December, 1964). p. 1.

5. "Saskatchewan Centennial Flag," The Arms, Flags and Floral Emblems of Canada (Ottawa: Department of the Secretary of State of Canada, 1967), p. 59. The flag had the proportions of 2 by 3.

6. In a letter dated November 19, 1956 from the then Secretary to the Lieutenant Governor to the Department of the Secretary of State in Ottawa. The lady was Secretary during the terms of office of Lieutenant Governors A.P. McNab, Thomas Miller, R.J.M. Parker, Dr. J.M. Uhrich, and W.J. Patterson, over the years 1938 to 1858.

7. In a letter dated July 9, 1958, written by Lieutenant Governor Bastedo to the Treasury Department of the Provincial Government.

8. Conrad Swan reports that in 1969 either the Canadian Flag, the Saskatchewan flag or the Union Flag was used if the Lieutenant Governor attended some function. See Swan Canada: Symbols of Sovereignty (Toronto: University of Toronto, 1977), p. 205, 207. On October 25, 1977, Laura Champ, Secretary to the Lieutenant Governor, wrote Whitney Smith, that the National Flag was used as a car flag and, as there was no official residence, no other occasion required a flag.

9. Our Flag (Regina: Printed by J.W. Reid, King's Printer, n.d., but c. 1923), 32 p.

10. The stylized crown that has become the city's symbol was designed by a civic employee, Jack Walker, in 1967.

11. The flag was designed in 1952 by Dick G. Whitehead, art director of Modern Press Limited.

12. The Yorkton flag was designed by a local resident (in a contest) for the municipal centennial of 1982.

13. The flag was presented to the City of Estevan by the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch #60, on the occasion of the official opening of the new City Hall on March 1, 1975.

14. The flag of Prince Albert was designed by Miss Milda Hunter of Arborfield and modified by Mr. Carter Watson to become the Jubilee flag for Prince Albert's 75th year in 1979. It became the official city flag on January 1, 1980.

15. The Moose Jaw flag was designed by Professor Atkinson, and adopted by City Council on October 24, 1966.


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