Elements of the National Flag of Canada

The Maple Leaf

Well before the coming of the first European settlers, Canada's Aboriginal peoples had discovered the edible properties of maple sap, which they gathered every spring. According to many historians, the maple leaf began to serve as a Canadian symbol as early as 1700.

The following are some examples of how the maple leaf grew in public consciousness as a symbol of our country until it finally became official on February 15, 1965, as an integral component of the National Flag of Canada.

  • 1834 - Ludger Duvernay is reported to have proposed the maple leaf as an emblem of Canada when the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste was founded on June 24 of that year.

  • 1836 - Le Canadien, a newspaper published in Lower Canada (now Quebec), referred to it as a suitable emblem for Canada.

  • 1858 - The first official coins to include maple leaves were issued by the Province of Canada on 1, 5, 10 and 20 cent pieces.

  • 1860 - At a public meeting held in Toronto, the maple leaf was adopted as the national emblem of Canada for use in the decorations for the Prince of Wales' visit.

  • 1867 - Alexander Muir, a Toronto schoolmaster and poet, composed the song "The Maple Leaf Forever."

  • 1914 - Many Canadian soldiers wore the maple leaf on their military badges, and it was the dominant symbol used by many Canadian regiments serving in World War I.

  • 1921 - The Royal Arms of Canada were proclaimed by His Majesty King George V with three maple leaves conjoined at the stem holding the commanding position in the shield, creating a distinctively Canadian element.

  • 1939 - At the beginning of World War II, numerous Canadian troops once again used the maple leaf as a distinctive emblem, displaying it on regimental badges and Canadian army and naval equipment.

  • 1996 - The maple tree was proclaimed as the National Arboreal Emblem of Canada.

Red and White: Canada's National Colours

  • Red and white were designated as Canada's official colours in 1921 by His Majesty, King George V, in the proclamation of the Royal Arms of Canada. The two colours were significant in that, from the 11th century, red and white were used time and again as the colours of France or England.