What Flag Should Canadians Fly?

G. B. VAN BLARICOM July 1 1909

What Flag Should Canadians Fly?

G. B. VAN BLARICOM July 1 1909

What Flag Should Canadians Fly?


EVERY Canadian may fly the Union Jack. The question is now settled beyond all dispute. His Majesty himself has said so and he is officially confirmed by a pronouncement in the House of Lords by the Colonial Secretary.

Is there a Canadian flag or should the loyal subjects of His Majesty’s Dominion raise the Union Jack? On July first, Canada commemorates the forty-second anniversary of her birth. In memory of the historic event under which the scattered provinces were welded into a solid confederacy—a united commonwealth—we call the day, Dominion Day. In honor of the great achievement and in token of our gratitude and pride at the happy union, July first is proclaimed and observed as a national holiday. In many towns and cities elaborate celebrations are held to mark the progress and development of our citizenship and national spirit and to impress upon present and future generations the glory and grandeur of the nativity of our country. Dominion Day is the occasion for more display of flags than possibly any other holiday in

the year. With the exception of Victoria Day—on no other anniversary are so many emblems in evidence. What flag should we as Canadians and loyal subjects of the British Empire, hoist?

It is contended by some that the Canadian marine ensign is the proper one to unfurl, but they are forced to admit that there is no official authority for such an emblem as the flag of Canada. It is true that, according to the Warrant issued by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, the merchant m'arine of Canada and all government ships have the authoritv and right to fly respectively the Canadian red and blue ensigns bearing the Dominion coat-of-arms in the field, but this official permission, it is asserted, applies to the water only, and there is no justification or precedent for raising the Canadian ensign on land. On the other hand, there is no doubt that every British subject has the right to fly the Union Jack or the British Red Ensign.

The other day I asked an eminent authority on flag lore wherein he

based his contention that Canadians

have the right to display the Canadian Red Ensign on shore. He told nie that the Cross of St. George, which had been placed in the upper corner of the Commonwealth ensign during the Protectorate days of Oliver Cromwell, had passed into the Ensign Red of Charles the Second and was thereafter borne at the stern of merchantmen and men-of-war In this paramount ensign of the nation, the single-cross English Jack was carried from 1649 to 17°7 > and during the reign of Queen Anne its place in the national ensign was taken for the first time by a two-crossed jack, which was the first real Union Jack. Such then was the origin and evolution of the Ensign Red, the national ensign of the British people, which along with the changes made in the Jack in the reigns of Queen Anne and George the Third, formed the basis of the present Red Ensign of the British Empire. By a proclamation of Queen Anne, the Red Ensign was ordered to be worn by all ships. No other ensign was to be displayed except the Red Ensign with the Union Jack in the upper corner which was to take the place of the separate national Jacks and of the Ensign Red previously used on the merchant ships of the subjects of the sovereign. This royal proclamation also gave authority to raise the British Union Ensign on sea and land. He asserted that the proclamation, so far as displaying the Red Ensign, cither on land or water, was concerned, had never been altered or amended and that it mattered not, if the arms of anv British colonv or possession were in the fly, the right tn display this flag on land still existed. Canadians, therefore, were fully justified hi raising the Canadian ens’gn on land. TTc did not advocate its use at all times and on all buildings but thought that the proper flag to be hoisted on Dominion Day in honor of our local pride and thankfulness for the historic event creating a united Canada, was the Canadian Ensign. On other occasions the Union 88

Jack or British Red Ensign would be the most appropriate flag to raise, except possibly on our municipal and home buildings as city halls, public libraries, fire stations, etc., from the towers of which the Canadian Ensign should float as evidence of our personal and local rule and lineage. On our parliament and legislative piles, our law courts and our public schools we should elevate the Union Tack as indicating the presence of Government under the British Constitution and of the administration of British law.

“The Canadian Ensign” he added “has in its broad red field the arms of the Dominion of Canada as the sign of our national union and in the upper corner or canton, the Union Jack as the sign of our British Union —the outward and visible evidence of our loyalty, affection and allegiance to the mother country. As the flag of the Englishman is the red cross of St. George, of the Scotchman the white cross of St. Andrew, and of the Irishman the red saltire cross of St. Patrick, or his harp and crown, and as there are to each the emblems of their home country and their lineage, so too is the Canadian Ensign, the emblem of our home country and our growing lineage united from ocean to ocean.”

There is abundant authority and warrant for every British subject to fiy the Union Tack. In an interesting brochure Mr. Joseph Pope points out that Lord Knollys, private secretary to King Edward, writing to a Church of England clergyman who, shortlv before the coronation of His Majesty, in 1902, asked for permission to fly the Royal Standard, said “In response to your letter I am afraid that the Royal Standard, which is the King’s personal flag, can only be hoisted on the Coronation. If permission were given in one case, it would be impossible to refuse it in any others. 1 must remind you that vou can always fly the Union Jack.”

A message was received from the private secretary of 11 is Majesty some

time ago by Mr. Barlow Cumberland, president of the Ontario Historical Society. It read, “In reply to your letter I beg to inform you that the Union Jack, being the national flag, may be flown by British subjects, private or official, on land.” Knollys.

The Secretary of the Colonies in the Imperial Cabinet, in reply to a question in the House recently said that the full Union Jack could be flown by every citizen of the Empire as well as on government offices and public buildings; that the Union jack should ‘be regarded as the national flag, and undoubtedly might be hoisted on land by all His Majesty’s subjects. The Earl of Meath remarked that there had been a certain amount of doubt on the subject and he was glad to have an authoritative announcement.

There have, however, appeared in the press of the Dominion from time to time communications in favor of a distinctive emblem for Canada, urging that in addition to the flag of the Empire — the Union Jack — there should be for special holidays and occasions of ceremony, a loyal or domestic emblem, or in other words, a flag for the Dominion.

The advocates of a separate Canadian emblem and the use of a Canadian flag have, beyond the contention already pointed out, so far as I can learn, failed to furnish any definite authority or official sanction for their attitude, and I am inclined to agree with Mr. Pope, who asserts that a national flag is the symbol of supreme authority and jurisdiction, and that as Canada forms a portion of the Dominion of the King of England,—

as much so, His Majesty himself has declared, as Surrey or Kent,—bow could Canada, consistent with her allegiance, fly any other flag than that which denotes British sovereignty? I fail to see that there is such a flag as the “Canadian Flag” on land.

In 1890, the Department of Marine and Fisheries applied to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, on behalf of vessel owners registered in the Dominion, for permission to fly the Red Ensign with the Canadian coat-of-arms inserted. The government ships were authorized to use the Blue Ensign with the Dominion coat-of-arms as their distinguishing flag. The latter authority was granted under the Colonial Defences Act in 1865. It conferred on colonial governments the power to use the Blue Ensign, with the seal or badge of the colony in the centre of the fly, on vessels of war maintained by local governments. Authority was afterwards extended to the fishery protection cruisers of Canada so that they, and all other ships owned by the Dominion, carry a Blue Ensign w,fU the Canadian coat of arms in the centre of the field. It was contended by the Department at Ottawa that the merchant marine of Canada using the same red ensign as the merchant marine of Great Britain frequently led to confusion in that Canadian ships could not be recognized. An Admiralty Warrant was issued in 1892 permitting the Canadian coat-of-arms to be placed in the ground of the Red Ensign and to be used on board vessels registered in the Dominion.

Anybody who will take the trouble

lo read this warrant, will sec mat tne permission applies merely to water, and then only to vessels registered in the Dominion. It has no bearing whatever on land and no authority there. On the other hand, pleaders for a distinctive Canadian flag, proclaim that the new combined Red Ensign, according to the terms of the Admiralty Warrant, can be used by all citizens of Canada. In other words there is no prohibition against the Canadian Ensign-—the British Red Ensign having the Union Jack in the upper canton and the arms of Canada in the fly—being used by all residents of the Dominion, either on land

or water. While the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty have not, of course, jurisdiction to make regulations with respect to land, the advocates aver that the hoisting of the Canadian Ensign or flag on shore is not disloyal or inappropriate; that it is a loyal, local flag, and, as already stated, the very fact of the Union Jade being in the upper left hand corner, proclaims and symbolizes our allegiance, devotion and adherence to Great Britain.

A national flag representing as it does, supreme authority and sovereignty, and Canada being a portion of the British domains, the proper flag to be raised on Canadian soil, 90

so far as I can conceive, is the one denoting these attributes, and that K the Union Jack. Mr. Pope adds that the action of the government in seeking and obtaining permission from the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to fly the flag of the Canadian merchant marine, or the Red Ensign, on all vessels registered in Canada, has, of late been perverted by some to a meaning entirely foreign to that desired by the members of the government who sought this privilege. The great mass of those, who hoist the Canadian flag, do so without any thought whatever. Although all may be loyal and faithful subjects of the King they are laboring under grave misapprehension, with no apparent idea, perhaps, of compromising their allegiance. While they may be undet the honest impression that the proper flag for them to raise is the Red Ensign of the Canadian merchant marine, they do not seem to realize that the marine ensign looks absurdly out of place hundreds of miles inland. The Warrant of the Admiralty merely authorized the Red Ensign of Her Majesty’s fleet with the Canadian coat-of-arms in the fiield to be used on vessels registered in the Dominion, such permission having no bearing whatever to its use on land.

Official authority having been granted that the full Union lack can be flown by every citizen of the Empire on private buildings, as well as on government structures, and that it should be regarded as the national flag and raised on land by all His Majesty’s subjects, Mr. Pope pertinently observes “Why should any lovai Canadian wish to fly any other flag^ Apart from the inherent fitness involved in the flying on British soil of the flag, which symbolizes British sovereignty, surely every one ought to feel a special gratification in exercising. the birthright of every subject of His Majesty. Tt represents a glory and a greatness we should all be proud to share.”

Tt is sometimes urged that the Union Jack denotes by its conforma-

tion the union of England, Scotland and Ireland, and, therefore, its use should be confined to the United Kingdom. “To this pedantic objection,” declares Mr. Pope, “I answer that whatever its origin and symbolic history, it is to-day, and has been for a hundred years, and more, the acknowledged emblem of P>ritish dominion, the flag of the British Empire, and is recognized as such by friends and foes the world over.” T concur with Mr. Pope, that the Union Tack is the only flag that should 'be flown on land bv a citizen of Canada at all times, under all occasions, and on all private and public buildings.

There is in Canada outside of the national emblem, which is the Union Jack, a distinctive flag of the Governor-General and a flag of the Lieut.Governor of each province. The former is the Union Jack, having on its centre the arms of Canada surrounded bv a wreath of maple leaves, thr* whole being surmounted by a roval crown. The distinctive flag of the Lieut.-Governors is the Union Tack, bearing noon it the arms of their respective provinces, surmounted bv a garland of manie leaves ; but as thev are appointed by the Government of the Dominion, and not bv the King, the garland is not surrounded bv a crown. The experience of Brit'sh constitutional authority in Canada is symbolized in the Governor-General’s flanwith its royal crown, its maple leaf garland, and the Canadian coT of arms, as is also a Lieut.-Governor’s iUm backed bv the Union Tack.

Another flag seen in Canada on certain occasions is the Boval Standard. Tt is a beautiful banner beanne the roval arms of England. SeotLnd and Ireland, and is only raised fo indicate the royal presence or the presence of some member of the roval family, or in recognition of some special roval dav. Tt was displayed in manv cities and towns in Canada during the visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales to the Dominion in TOOT, and aeain •t wac prominent hast vear at the Onebee Tercentenary celebration, when

the Prince was present and took part in the memorable festivities. The Royal Standard is generally hoisted on parliamentary and legislative buildings on the King's birthday. Being the personal flag of the sovereign it is also raised wherever His Majesty is residing, on certain fortresses and stations, home and foreign, as directed in the royal regulations, but very rarely appears anywhere else in the absence of a member of the royal family. Tt was, however, put up in Toronto recently on the grounds of the Ontario Toebey Club in celebration of King Edward’s success in winning the Derby, the hoisting occurring at the suggestion of His Excellency the Gov-

ernor-General, who is the representative of His Majesty in Canada, and was present.

According to “The History of the Union Jack,” by Mr. Cumberland, our national flag is “The Union,” because it represents the flags of England, Scotland and Ireland united in one design. In 1606—three years after the joining of the thrones of England and Scotland, when King Tames the Sixth of Scotland became Tames the First of England, a new flag was created, combining the crosses of St. Andrew and St. George. It was called the “additional” Jack of James the First. This Jack was afterwards

known as the “Union Flagge.” By royal* proclamation this flag was not intended to take the place of the then existing national Jacks, but was directed to be displayed in addition to and at the same time with the Tack of each nation. This “additional” Jack continued to be used for over a century (with the exception of some temporary changes made by Oliver Cromwell) until the first real Union Jack was created in 1707, in the sixth year of the reign of Oueen Anne. Immediately after the union of the English and Scotch Parliaments into one Parliament, a royal proclamation was issued creating “Our Jack” to be used in the United Kingdoms of Great Britain. This flag was the first “Union” Tack. Here the official authority of the separate crosses of St. Andrew and St. George as national flags ceased and the reign of the first Union Jack or Flag began in 1707. For ninety-four years the red cross Irish Jack still continued its solitary existence. It was not until 1801, during the forty-first year of the reign of George the Third, that the Irish Parliament was merged with the union Parliaments of England and Scotland, and the red saltire cross of St. Patrick was blended with the other national crosses, thus creating our Union lack in its present form, St. Patrick’s cross being placed alongside the white Scottish cross of St. Andrew.

Tt was the College of Arms that invented the Union Tack after the parliamentary union of Ireland to Great Britain. A “King of Arms” was called to give advice to a Privy Council, and he submitted the present design. At this time the flag was a combination of the St. George’s cross—a red upright cross on white—and the Cross of St. Andrew—a diagonal white cross on blue. The problem was to add the Cross of St. Patrick—a diagonal red cross on white—and do this in a manner that each cross should . 1 civc equal prominence.

How this was accomplished mav be seen in one of the illustrations, which

shows a correct Union Jack, similar to a water color design in the possession of the College of Arms.

It will be noticed that at the top corner next to the pole the white portion is wider above the red than below, while at the opposite corner this arrangement is reversed.

The reason of this is that the “Dexter chief” in heraldry or in simple language, the place of honor is the top of the flag next the pole and the white cross of St. Andrew was made wide at this place to give it due importance, Scotland being the senior kingdom. It was thought that Ireland might be jealous of this favoritism, so in the opposite corner the red arm of St. Patrick’s cross is placed above St. Andrew’s. In the first and third quarters the white of Scotland is uppermost, while in the second and fourth divisions the red of Ireland has the precedence. Thus, all things were equalized and national jealousies lulled. The narrow white lines on either side of St. George's cross, and on the outer edge of St. Patrick's, have no meaning. They are placed there only to meet a rule of heraldry that color must not touch color, but be separated by a border of one of the metals —in this case silver—which separates the red color of the crosses from the blue color of the field or ground of the flag. So far as heraldry is concerned, it is not necessary that the flag should be of any particular proportions or shape, though the Admiralty lays down definite rules for its official flags.

The private citizen of Canada who desires to show his patriotism on Dominion Day may be quite satisfied if he obtains a Union Tack one and onehalf times as long as its width and with the three crosses placed in the position shown in the illustration. In many specimens of the national flag the white border around the English cross is much too wide. In hoisting the Union Tack, the point to remember is that the wide white arm above the red must be placed next to the lop of the pole.