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Canada's Flag history

1. First nations, who arrived ≈10,000 BC, didn't have flags in the modern sense, so we represent them here with the flag of the Iroquois Confederacy, which is a representation of a Hiawatha Wampum belt. 

First Nations ≈10,000 BC


2. French explorers arrived and founded the first permanent European settlements, including Quebec City in 1608. The French Royal Standard was their flag.

French Royal Standard 1608


3. The British has been in North America for many years. In 1759 at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, the French were defeated and the land that is now Canada become entirely under British rule. Their flag was the Union Jack of Great Britain, which combines the Cross of St. George, red on white, representing England; with the Cross of St. Andrew, white on blue, representing Scotland.

Union Jack of Great Britain 1759


4. In 1801, Ireland united with Great Britain to create the United Kingdom. They added the Cross of St. Patrick to the flag to represent this, resulting in the modern Union Jack.

Union Jack of United Kingdom 1801


5. In 1867, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick confederated to become Canada. The Canadian Red Ensign has a Union Jack in the first quarter and, in the field, a shield made by combining the shields of the four provinces. Note that the quarter for Nova Scotia (bottom-left) is not the shield used now. In the early 1900s, Nova Scotia reverted to an earlier design that had been lost.

Flag Canada

Canadian Red Ensign, original 18??

canadas- flag

6. As the years went by, more provinces joined and the flag become more and more complicated as additional shields were added. In 1921, the flag was redesigned to instead show the shield from Canada's newly-made coat of arms. The shield contains the three lions passant representing England, the one lion rampant representing Scotland, the harp representing Ireland, a small French Royal Standard representing France, and the maple leaves representing Canada. The symbols represented the primary immigrant groups that made up Canadian society of the day.

Canadian Red Ensign, revised 1921


7. In the 1960s, there was a desire to create a flag that was uniquely Canadian without any foreign symbols. After a big debate, the Maple Leaf Flag was adopted in 1965. The red bands represent the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The maple leaf has long been a symbol of Canada since so many maple trees grow here. Red and white had become Canada's official colours in 1921.

National flag of Canada 

Maple Leaf Flag of Canada 19??