The Maple Leaf Tartan

The Maple Leaf Tartan

The Maple Leaf Tartan was created in 1964 by David Weiser in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of Canada's confederation in 1967. It was designed to be worn by Canadians from all backgrounds regardless of their ancestry, as a symbol of national pride.

The colours of the maple leaf through the changing seasons became the basis for the design. The pattern incorporates the green of the leaves' summer foliage, the gold which first appears in the early autumn, the red which appears with the coming of the first frost, and the brown tones of the fallen leaves. The design proved to be very popular throughout Canada.

The Maple Leaf Tartan has been recognized for decades as Canada's unofficial national tartan.  It was made an official national symbol by ministerial declaration on March 9, 2011. The Maple Leaf Tartan is closely associated with other existing official national symbols such as the maple leaf and the maple tree. The maple leaf is the recognized symbol of Canada throughout the world.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a tartan?

A tartan is a fabric pattern which is woven with an assortment of stripes in varying widths and colours set at right angles to each other.

Tartans have traditionally been synonymous with Scottish heritage. A symbol of identity and cohesion, each pattern represents a family, community, organization or region. In recent times, tartans have also been adopted by non-Scottish organizations, by provinces and now by Canada as an official symbol to be used by all.

When is it appropriate to wear the Maple Leaf Tartan? 

The Maple Leaf Tartan can be worn at special occasions, or as everyday attire in the form of a kilt, scarf, hat or necktie. The Department of Canadian Heritage does not regulate or control the use of the Maple Leaf Tartan.

Tartan patterns are symbolic. When wearing a tartan you identify yourself with what the tartan represents. When you wear the Maple Leaf Tartan you are proudly identifying yourself with the country of Canada.

Canadians are encouraged to recognize the significance of the Maple Leaf Tartan and to wear it proudly on national days such as July 1, Canada Day, and also on April 6, Tartan Day.

The Maple Leaf Tartan is used by The Royal Canadian Regiment Pipes and Drums and it has been worn by the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Battalions. It was featured in costumes worn during the closing ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Why and how do Canadians celebrate Tartan Day?

On October 21, 2010, the Minister of Canadian Heritage officially declared April 6 as Tartan Day.

Tartan Day is celebrated on April 6 because it is the anniversary of the signing of Declaration of Arbroath in 1320, the Scottish declaration of independence.

In Canada, Tartan Day originated in the late 1980s in Nova Scotia, where it was declared an official day by the provincial government. It then spread across the country, with many provinces joining in.

Each province and territory with the exception of Newfoundland and Labrador have proclaimed April 6 as Tartan Day. Most provinces and territories in Canada have adopted an official tartan, with the exception of Nunavut, and Quebec, which has an unofficial tartan.

Tartan Day celebrations typically include parades of pipe bands, highland dancing and sports, and other community gatherings with Scottish-themed events.

Does Tartan Day mean Canada celebrates our national tartan, the Maple Leaf Tartan?

Tartan Day recognizes and celebrates the contributions of Scots and their descendants to the fabric of our society.

Tartan Day is also a special day for Canadians to celebrate their national, provincial, territorial or personal tartans.

Where can I purchase the Maple Leaf Tartan?

Tartans are sold widely in tartan and fabric shops which can be located through a search on the Internet or the local yellow pages.

Provincial and Territorial Tartans