National Flag of Canada Day

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Flag Day
Canada flag halifax 9 -04.JPG
The national flag of Canada
Observed by Canada
Date February 15
Next time 15 February 2016 (2016-02)
Frequency annual

Flag Day, officially named National Flag of Canada Day (French: Jour du drapeau national du Canada), is observed annually on February 15, commemorating the inauguration of the Flag of Canada on that date in 1965.[1] The day is marked by flying the flag, occasional public ceremonies, and educational programs in schools. It is not a public holiday, although there has been discussion about creating one.


The Maple Leaf flag replaced the Canadian Red Ensign, which had been, with various successive alterations, in conventional use as a Canadian national flag since 1868. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Lester Pearson, resolutions recommending the new flag were passed by the House of Commons on December 15, 1964, and by the Senate two days later.[2]

The flag, designed by George Stanley, was proclaimed by Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, on January 28, 1965,[3] and took effect "upon, from and after" February 15.[4]

National Flag of Canada Day was instituted in 1996 by an Order in Council from Governor General Roméo LeBlanc, on the initiative of Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.[5] At the first Flag Day ceremony in Hull, Quebec, Chrétien was confronted by demonstrators against proposed cuts to the unemployment insurance system, and while walking through the crowd grabbed by the neck and pushed aside a protester who had approached him. In 2010, on the flag's 45th anniversary, federal ceremonies were held to mark Flag Day at Winnipeg, St. John's, Ottawa, and at Whistler and Vancouver in conjunction with the XXI Olympic Winter Games.[6] In 2011, Prime Minister Stephen Harper observed Flag Day by presenting two citizens, whose work honoured the military, with Canadian flags which had flown over the Peace Tower. It was announced as inaugurating an annual recognition of patriotism.[7]


It was decided National Flag Day would not be an acceptable name for the date, given the multiple uses of the word "nation" or "national" in Canada; some aboriginal peoples call themselves First Nations and various institutions in the province of Quebec are designated as "national"— the National Assembly of Quebec, for example. The resulting inclusion of the words "of Canada" disambiguated exactly what nation was being referred to, but created a title that could be interpreted as suggesting there is a national flag for Canada Day. National Flag Day and Flag Day are used in common parlance.


It has been suggested that Flag Day should be declared a national statutory holiday, as there are no such days off between New Year's Day and Good Friday, except Family Day in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, and Saskatchewan, and Louis Riel Day in Manitoba.[8][9] That suggestion grew louder as the flag celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2005.[citation needed] On Flag Day in 2007, New Democratic Party Member of Parliament Peggy Nash introduced a private member's bill to make Flag Day a federal statutory holiday, leaving it to the provinces to decide if the holiday would be marked in their respective jurisdictions.[10]

Although National Flag of Canada Day is not a holiday, it is celebrated with many events around the country. In Argyle, Manitoba, the local museum Settlers, Rails & Trails displays historic flags of Canada. This is a special display from the museum's Canadian flag collection, the second largest museum flag collection in Canada.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

Portal icon Canada portal


  1. ^ Department of Canadian Heritage. "Ceremonial and Canadian Symbols Promotion > The National Flag of Canada". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved March 21, 2010. 
  2. ^ Department of Canadian Heritage. "Ceremonial and Canadian Symbols Promotion > The National Flag of Canada > Birth of the Canadian flag". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved March 21, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Birth of the Canadian flag". Department of Canadian Heritage. Retrieved December 16, 2008. 
  4. ^ Conserving the Proclamation of the Canadian Flag, Library and Archives of Canada, from John Grace in The Archivist, National Archives, Ottawa, 1990. Retrieved February 15, 2011.
  5. ^ Department of Canadian Heritage. "National Flag of Canada Day". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved March 21, 2010. 
  6. ^ Dept. of Canadian Heritage news release, February 15, 2010. Retrieved February 15, 2011.
  7. ^ PM pays tribute to outstanding Canadians on Flag Day, Prime Minister's Office news release. Retrieved February 16, 2011.
  8. ^ "Maple Leaf holiday idea run up the flag pole". National Post. February 3, 2005. Retrieved February 12, 2015. 
  9. ^ Granger, Grant (February 15, 2011). "MP calls for a national Flag Day stat holiday in February". New Westminster News Leader. Retrieved February 12, 2015. 
  10. ^ "Toronto MP calls for national paid holiday in February". CBC News. February 15, 2007. Retrieved February 12, 2015. 

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