Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Happy Canada Day!

Our Canadian flag.

National Post
CREDIT: CanWest News Service

40 facts about our flag
It flies at the top of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill and is sewn on the backpacks of globetrotting Canadians. It's wrapped around triumphant athletes and waved by children at Canada Day parades, coast to coast. It's on mugs, pins and car bumpers. In Canada and around the world, the National Flag is our collective nametag. This is Canada, it says, in beaming white and red. In honour, we have compiled 40 facts about what it is, where it came from and the hype that has sometimes followed it.

1. Feb. 15 1965: Canada's new red and white Maple Leaf flag was raised for the first time on Parliament Hill. Maurice Bourget, Speaker of the Senate, addressed the audience. "The flag is the symbol of the nation's unity, for it, beyond any doubt, represents all the citizens of Canada without distinction, language, belief or opinion."

2. The official name is the National Flag of Canada.

3. The flag at the Peace Tower flies 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is changed on a daily basis, usually early in the morning and by a designated Parliament Hill building employee who receives training on how to perform the task.

4. Flags on the East and West Block are changed weekly.
5. Once a flag is drawn, it goes to the office of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services, before it is eventually distributed to people who have requested it.

6. Want one? You'll have to be patient. There is a 10-year waiting list to receive a flag that has flown on the Peace Tower. The wait is five years for a flag that has flown on the East or West Block. Anyone interested should put the request in writing and send it in: by mail to Public Works and Government Services Canada, Office of the Minister 18A1, Portage Place III, 11 Laurier St., Gatineau, Que., K1A 0S5; by fax to: (819) 953-1908 or by e-mail to minister@pwgsc.gc.ca. Only one flag per household is allowed.

7. New flags are kept in the basement of Centre Block.

8. National Flag Day: Feb. 15

9. So far this year, the government has purchased 32,900 flags, to be distributed to the public and members of Parliament on days like National Flag Day and Canada Day.

10. The flags are supplied by two companies -- one in Toronto called Flying Colours International and another in St-Foy, Que., that goes by the name Drapeaux et Bannieres L'etendard Inc. Both contracts cost the government a total of $907,129.95.

11. It takes about a week, from start to finish, to make a batch of Canadian flags at Toronto's Flying Colours International. The company uses high tenacity nylon that is made in Kingston and woven into fabric in a Quebec factory. The fabric is stripped of oil before it is printed with a water-based dye.

12. The largest Canadian flag ever made, according to Flying Colours International, was recently unveiled at a football game in Hamilton, between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Toronto Argonauts. The flag was 38 metres by 76 metres, and required at least 80 pairs of hands to carry it on to the field. This flag will never fly -- it's too big -- but it will be brought on to the turf at Ivor Wynne Stadium, the Ticat's home base, for the start of every home game. A flag that size costs $15,000.

13. It doesn't get much smaller than the tiny plastic Canadian flag lapel pins that are often given away by the government. For decades they were made by a company in Toronto. In 2003, the government awarded the contracts to two importers who outsourced the job to China. When that news became public this year, the government promised to ensure that some flag pins are made in Canada.

14. The government gave away a million flags after the Quebec referendum. It was a plan hatched by Sheila Copps, then heritage minister, to promote national unity. The freebies ended up costing the government $15-million.

15. Bloc Quebecois MP Suzanne Tremblay was criticized in 1998 after complaining that too many Maple Leaf flags were displayed by the Canadian delegation at the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.

16. The Peace Tower flag is 2.25 metres by 4.5 metres.

17. The search for a new Canadian flag actually started in 1925 when a committee of the Privy Council began to research possible designs for a national flag. However, the work of the committee was never completed.

18. Later, in 1946, a select parliamentary committee was appointed with a similar mandate, called for submissions and received more than 2,600 designs. Still, the House of Commons was never called upon to vote on a design.

19. Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson reignited the search for a new flag in 1964. By October a committee had shortlisted three possible designs -- a Red Ensign with the fleur-de-lys and the Union Jack, a design incorporating three red maple leaves, and a red flag with a single, stylized red maple leaf on a white square. (Mr. Pearson preferred a design with three red maple leaves between two blue borders.)

20. The combination of red, white and red first appeared in the General Service Medal issued by Queen Victoria.

21. The flag is red and white, the official colours of Canada as appointed by King George V in 1921, with a stylized 11-point red leaf in its centre. It is twice as long as it is wide.

22. It's not just any red. The printing ink colour is FIP red: General Printing Ink, No. 0-712; Inmont Canada Ltd., No. 4T51577; Monarch Inks, No. 62539/0; or Sinclair and Valentine, No. RL163929/0. The painting colours are FIP red No. 509-211 and white: 513-201.

23. Flag etiquette stipulates that when the National Flag of Canada is raised or lowered, or when it is carried in a parade or review, all present should face the flag, men should remove their hats and all should remain silent. Those in uniform should salute.

24. In 1999, a school board trustee at Winnipeg School Division No. 1 ordered all custodians to take better care of Canadian flags that fly over city schools after he found one crumpled up and tossed into a box of muddy boots. Mario Santos, who immigrated to Canada from Portugal in the 1960s, instructed custodians to raise the flag at 8:30 a.m., take it down at 3:30 p.m., and store it carefully and respectfully within the school.

25. The Trade Marks Act protects the National Flag of Canada against unauthorized use. Requests to use the flag should be made to the Department of Canadian Heritage. A sketch of the intended use must be submitted by fax. The flag cannot be defaced by way of printing or illustrations or masked by other objects.

26. It caused a stir in the 1992 World Series between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Atlanta Braves when the U.S. Marine Corps carried it upside down at the pre-game ceremony. The Jays won the game 5-4.

27. It caused another late last year, when Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams ordered the flags lowered to protest an "unacceptable" offer from the federal government regarding off-shore royalties. "The Premier's actions are disrespectful of our most treasured national symbol," Prime Minister Paul Martin said.

28. But that wasn't the only time the flag was dragged into politics. The Mayor of Quebec City ordered the Canadian flag removed from atop City Hall after the failure of the Meech Lake accord. The flag would return in 1998.

29. The National Flag does not fly outside the Quebec legislature, unless there is a special federal ceremony.

30. In 2002, Quebec swimmer Jennifer Carroll waved the Quebec fleur-de-lys flag rather than the Maple Leaf while on the podium at the Commonwealth Games.

31. A Reform party motion to allow MPs to display the Canadian flag on their desks in Parliament was defeated in 1998, after dominating Commons debate for several weeks.

32. When provincial and territorial flags are flown with the National Flag of Canada, the order is based on the date of entry into Confederation of the provinces followed by the territories.

33. Flags are flown at the half-mast position as a sign of mourning. The flag is brought to the half-mast position by first raising it to the top of the mast then immediately lowering it slowly to the half-mast position.

34. If a flag is tattered and no longer suitable to fly, proper etiquette calls for a dignified destruction. The suggestion: burn it privately.

35. In 1999, students at the University of Brandon burned the Canadian flag to protest against Canadian troops in East Timor.

36. In 2001, then Quebec premier Bernard Landry compared the Canadian flag to "bits of red rag" used to provoke bulls.

37. The National Flag of Canada should always be flown on its own mast -- flag protocol dictating that it is improper to fly two or more flags on the same mast (eg. one beneath the other). Further, the following points should be kept in mind:

38. It should not be used as table/seat cover, as a masking for boxes or as a barrier on a dais or platform. Nothing should be pinned to or sewn on the National Flag of Canada. The National Flag of Canada should not be signed or marked in any way. (A border could be attached to the edge of the flag on which it would be acceptable to have signatures, leaving the flag itself untouched.)

39. Chris Hollingworth of St. Albert, Alta., refused to remove a Canadian flag from the window of his condo in 2001, after the building's manager called it "aesthetically unpleasing." Hollingworth had placed it there after the Sept. 11 attacks against the United States.

40. On the day he was sworn in as prime minister, Paul Martin clutched the Canadian flag that flew at half mast on the Peace Tower on Sept 14, 1992, the day his father died. Paul Martin Senior was a Cabinet minister in the Trudeau government.

© Global National 2007

Happy Canada Day!.
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