The Current Situation

Happy Canada Day! Enjoy some Canadian flags.

For the longest time, Canada didn’t have an official flag. Instead, it made unofficial use of its variant of the British Red Ensign, a red flag with the Union flag in the upper left-hand corner — the canton — and a Canadian-themed coat of arms in the rightmost area — the fly. From just after Confederation to 1921, the flag looked like this:

canadian red ensign 1

…and then from 1921 to 1957, it looked like this:

canadian red ensign 2

…and from 1957 to 1965, it looked like this:

canadian red ensign 3

Through the 20th century, there were attempts to get an official flag made, and it took the Great Canadian Flag Debate of 1964 — nearly 100 years after the formation of the country — to finally get a flag that was all our own. There was bitter debate over its design, which was captured nicely in this painting by Rex Woods, who could be described as Canada’s answer to Norman Rockwell:

picking a canadian flag
Tap to view at full size.

Of the designs featured in the paining, I’m kind of fond of the “psychedelic maple leaf” one:

psychedelic canadian flag

In the end, we got the simple, sharp, and iconic design that we know and love as the present-day Canadian flag. Happy Canada Day, everyone!

canadian flag


One reply on “Happy Canada Day! Enjoy some Canadian flags.”

The “psychedelic maple leaf” design reminds me of one of Louis Wain’s famous “schizophrenic cats” paintings. Does this say anything about Canada?

(Interestingly, in recent years there’s been some pushback against the idea that Wain’s asylum art shows schizophrenic deterioration. The eight undated pictures usually included in the “schizophrenic cats” groups were apparently assembled by Wain’s doctor after his death, and not necesssarily in order of production, to demonstrate the doctor’s own theory of “schizophrenic deterioration”. Wain, in addition to the bizarre, mandala-like paintings he’s now best-known for, reportedly was also able to continue painting his more traditional versions of cats as well.)

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