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  • Order number: 1659

About the Canada flag (1921 - 1957)

The composite shield was replaced with the coat of arms of Canada upon its grant in 1921 and, in 1924, an Order in Council approved its use for Canadian government buildings abroad. In 1925, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King established a committee to design a flag to be used at home, but it was dissolved before the final report could be delivered. Despite the failure of the committee to solve the issue, public sentiment in the 1920s was in favour of fixing the flag problem for Canada. New designs were proposed in 1927, 1931 and 1939.

During the Second World War, the Red Ensign was the recognized Canadian national flag. A joint committee of the Senate and House of Commons was appointed on November 8, 1945, to recommend a national flag to officially adopt. It received 2,409 designs from the public and was addressed by the director of the Historical Section of the Canadian Army, Fortescue Duguid, who pointed out red and white were Canada's official colours and there was already an emblem representing the country: three joined maple leaves seen on the escutcheon of the Canadian coat of arms. By May 9 the following year, the committee reported back with a recommendation "that the national flag of Canada should be the Canadian red ensign with a maple leaf in autumn golden colours in a bordered background of white". The Legislative Assembly of Quebec, however, had urged the committee to not include any of what it deemed as "foreign symbols", including the Union Flag, and Mackenzie King, then still prime minister, declined to act on the report, leaving the order to fly the Canadian Red Ensign in place.

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