Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Canadian Flag First Went Up Fifty Years Ago

      Fifty years ago today the Canadian flag was officially raised.

      Let me go back a bit. Before 1965 Canada used several different flags. They were all a combination of varying parts of British designs. Our flag was called the Red Ensign.. Discussion went on for a long time about having a Canadian flag which is our own. A call for designs was made. Citizens submitted thousands of suggestions. The process took a long time until one was chosen and presented to parliament. There was much disagreement in parliament and the two sides dug in for a fight. Some of the population were much against the new design. Veterans wanted to keep the old flag that they fought two wars under.

     We actually had three different Red Ensigns. One was from 1868- 1921, a second from 1921-1957 and a third from 1957- 1965.

     Finally an act of parliament was passed to make the new flag official and it was agreed that the new flag would be raised Feb. 15 1965.

     Now this is a day I will not forget. I was a young teacher in Inuvik , Northwest Territories. I taught at Sir Alexander Mackenzie school which had an enrollment of about 1000 students.

    It was a bitterly cold clear day. We gathered around the flagpole at the front of the school. We had a number of local dignitaries...RCMP, Legion. Navy,cadets and administration. The old flag was slowly brought down and folded according to protocol. I can't remember who received the old flag but there were rules stating who should receive the old flag. The new flag was unfolded and attached to the lanyard and slowly raised. I can't remember if we sang Oh Canada or not.
     What I do remember is that the cadets insisted on wearing their berets. We watched as their ears steadily whitened with frost. Of course, they would never cover their ears with their hands. The cadets played a very important role in this event. I'm sure none of them will ever forget it. I think a few other people froze their ears too.

     I'm not one for pomp and ceremony but this event will stick in my mind forever. It was an impressive ceremony and we knew that something important was happening that day.

    Now Canadians love their flag and you seldom hear any criticism.