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This Day in History: New Canadian Flag inaugurated

A symbol of Canadian identity

National Flag of Canada
Canadian Flag, proclaimed by Queen Elizabeth on January 28, 1965; inaugurated by Canadian Parliament on February 15, 1965.

The official ceremony inaugurating the new Canadian flag was held on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on February 15, 1965, with Governor General Georges Vanier, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, the members of the Cabinet and thousands of Canadians in attendance.

The Canadian Red Ensign, bearing the Union Jack and the shield of the royal arms of Canada, was lowered and then, on the stroke of noon, our new maple leaf flag was raised. The crowd sang the national anthem O Canada followed by the royal anthem God Save the Queen.

The following words, spoken on that momentous day by the Honourable Maurice Bourget, Speaker of the Senate, added further symbolic meaning to our flag: “The flag is the symbol of the nation’s unity, for it, beyond any doubt, represents all the citizens of Canada without distinction of race, language, belief or opinion.”1

Since the Canadian flag made its first official appearance on February 15, 1965, this date is now celebrated annually as National Flag Day of Canada.

The Canadian Ensign pre-Confederation, 1870, is on display at the Lake Country Museum. It is a red silk, with the Union Jack in the upper left hand corner. The lower right hand corner contains a shield of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Manitoba.

Additional information on the history of the Canadian flag is available on our website and at the LC Museum.

Source: 1Heritage Canada. Government of Canada website. The website provides this additional information:

  • The National Flag of Canada
  • Proportions and Description of the flag
  • Birth of the Canadian flag
  • The Making of the Canadian flag
  • First “Canadian flags”
  • Elements of the flag
  • You were asking…
  • Ceremonial Dress Flag
  • Dipping the flag
  • Colour Specifications
  • Pledge to the Canadian flag
  • Half-masting of flags
  • Commercial use of the flag
  • Flag Etiquette in Canada


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