This Flag Question

A further exchange of views concerning the case for a distinctive Canadian flag

December 1 1929

This Flag Question

A further exchange of views concerning the case for a distinctive Canadian flag

December 1 1929

This Flag Question

A further exchange of views concerning the case for a distinctive Canadian flag

The Maple Leaf

“The Canadians fought in France, Belgium, and elsewhere under the Union Jack, but each man and nurse carried on his or her person one thing of which they were more proud than that good old flag on which the sun never sets—a maple leaf badge—the one thing which distinguished Canadians from other troops, wherever they were. In every military graveyard or plot in France, Belgium, Canada, you know that that man or nurse lying there was a Canadian, for the headstone bears the insignia of the maple leaf. When Canadians journey to foreign countries to compete in different sports, they carry on their persons one emblem—the maple leaf. In the land of statecraft, you will find the Canadian envoys with an emblem prominently displayed either on door, desk or wall; our trade agents use one symbol to denote the country which they represent —always the maple leaf. So we have it in war, in death, in sports, and in things of state. Canada is known the world over by one symbol—the maple leaf; nonsectarian, non-racial, non-provincial—one for all and all for Canada. It is my conviction that the Manitoba Free Press has the design of Canada’s flag.”—W. L. Palmeter, Kentville, N.S.

Maple Leaf Favored

“While the Union Jack represents the union of England, Scotland and Ireland,

I would, owing to its age and history, favor its adoption as the Empire flag, each component part of the British Commonwealth of Nations to have a flag of its own. The suggestion of a flag with a white field, green maple leaf and Union Jack in the corner seems to meet the case exactly. I was born in Scotland, coming here at nineteen years of age, and do not deem it necessary to decry the country of my birth in order to be a good Canadian. Surely I' can be proud of both without disloyalty to the country of my adoption.”—Jack Loutet, former President, Union of British Columbia Municipalities, North Vancouver. B.C.

No Ulterior Motive at All

“Your flag article was well written, but it is ill-advised to start any controversy on this question. The matter was discussed in parliament and apparently dropped. It, therefore, would appear that MacLean’s has some ulterior or private motive for raising such a vexatious question. Nothing is to be gained by having any change in our flag. Surely MacLean’s is not ashamed of the good old flag. Any Canadian worthy of the name should be proud of the Union Jack. Under its protection, Canada has grown to be a nation and, as Canadians, we have fought and bled for the old flag and the ideals and principles for which the British Empire stands.”—A. B. Hughes, Cereal, Alta.

It Seems To Have Been Stirred

I was greatly interested in your article on the above subject. I was very much surprised to learn that there is no such thing as Canada’s National Flag. Why not publish a few appropriate designs and ask your readers to ballot on same or arrange them in order of merit, and give a prize to the most popular selection. At least this would stir up the subject.

My suggestion for a National Flag would be the French tricolor with the Union Jack in the corner and the Maple Leaf in the centre.—W. D. Admitt, Elock, Ot,

It Was Recognized Recently

“How can we have a Canadian flag for Canadians until we have our nationality as Canadians recognized? If the people that are doing all the shouting about a separate flag would shout about getting their individual status changed, especially those who were born in Canada with parents and grandparents that were born in Canada, they would be a whole lot better off.”—H. J. Best, Souris, Man.

No Change

“I have followed with interest the various arguments for and against a distinctive Canadian flag, and I must say that I heartily agree with the sentiments expressed in the letter written by H. A.T., of Toronto, which, I think, sums up the situation very completely, and I think that I am safe in saying that H. A. T. is voicing the opinion of every loyal Canadian.”—R. L. H. Goodday, Saint John, N.B.

Doesn’t Want Prefix

“It certainly gives me a thrill to read the different expressions of opinion on the flag question and to know that, in nearly every case, our public men are in favor of a distinctive flag for Canada. My mother and dad are from the Old Country and, while I love and respect Great Britain, I wish to be known as a Canadian only, without prefixing it with English, Irish or Scotch. I know that thousands of Canadians are of the same opinion.”—C. A. N., Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

From an Old Sailor

“As an old sailor, may I suggest that the present Red Ensign is known all over the world as a British flag. It is true Australia, New Zealand and Africa have added to it. No one can tell what the patch on our present Canadian flag is at a distance of a hundred feet. You must have something that can be recognized at a distance. Might I suggest the Red Ensign as at present, with a green maple leaf for each province of the Dominion in the fly?”—F. C. Cream, Montreal, Que.

“H. A. T.” Wasn’t Gentle Either

“I have enjoyed the articles and stories in MacLean’s October 1st issue, but I was surprised to find, ‘This Flag Question,’ by Hugh Savage. My resentment of same has been well expressed by your correspondent, H. A. T., Toronto, to whom you give a nasty slam in choosing a title for his letter. I fully endorse the sentiment expressed by the Hon. Hugh H. McLean, the Hon. J. T. M. Anderson and the Hon. J. B. M. Baxter.”—Another British Canuck, Anerley, Sask.

A Philosopher Speaks

“It has been an enjoyment to read the letters on the Flag, because, no matter which side the writers took, each was a decidedly British Canadian. So, with or without a flag, I guess we would still be what we are. I take the Union Jack and the Red Ensign, too, as seriously as my religion. In times of peace we find all sorts of things to squabble about, but let war or trouble affect any one part of our great British family and we put aside our disagreements and present a united front under the Union Jack. I haven’t proved anything. I didn’t intend to, and I expect all the present noise about the flag will do the same.”—B. E. R., Shawbridge, Que.

Would Alter The Shield

I read with great interest Mr. Savage’s article on a Flag for Canada.

I am not well read on heraldry, but, to me, a Canadian flag should accentuate the old French. Having been an acknowledged Canadian from March 3, 1915, to May 17, 1919, I have a leaning to the Maple Leaf, but, I am also an Edinburgh Scotsman with a little knowledge of the “old Alliance” and consider the Fleur de Lys should have a prominent place.

Keep the Red and Blue Ensigns as they are, with the exception of the shield, which, to me, should be enlarged and altered. The flag would then represent Scotland, England, Wales, and Ireland, in one corner, and, in. the shield, the French of this country, and us other Canadians.—G. D. MacDuff, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, P.Q.

The Flag Medley

“Whether the government decides to frame a flag of our own or to stick to the Union Jack is a matter of small moment if they move and decide once and for all.

“Last summer, when on holiday in the Laurentians, I daily visited a post-office which had two tall flag poles. On one was the Stars and Stripes and the other held the French Tri-color, while on the adjacent lake (Labelle) a man ran a motor boat which continually flew the flag of Belgium. I can’t see our neighbors to the south of us allowing such a free use of foreign flags and I think it’s time our government took a leaf out of their book and put a stop to it in Canada.”—Neil McDermid, Montreal.

Hold Him, Somebody

"After reading the article in MacLean’s on ‘This Flag Question,’ I feel like hitting somebody on the nose. I cannot see, for the life of me, why the Red Ensign was not made the official emblem of Canada for both land and sea, years ago, when it was first adopted as a marine ensign. As a Canadian born, and as an overseas soldier of the Great War, I have always looked on the Red Ensign as the emblem of Canada, and was surely surprised to hear someone come along and say it wasn’t official. Well, why to blazes don’t they make it official?”—C. F. S., Lynn Valley, B.C.

Give Us Time to Think

“My main objection to a distinctive Canadian flag is based upon the people that ask for it, as I have seen them. They are the ones who call themselves 100 per cent Canadian. All right, go into their homes. You will see Detroit, Buffalo, Chicago newspapers and American magazines. They have radio programmes from New York, Chicago, St. Louis, anywhere from the country to the south; comparatively once in a hundred times from a Canadian station. When you get this distinctive Canadian flag, will you then ask this crowd how about a distinctive Canadian navy?”—F. D. W., Fletcher, Ont.

Maple Leaf Design Popular

“To my mind, the flag of Britain, with its triple cross, embodies much more than other national emblems. Do not adopt another symbol of Canada’s own choice. Rather, insert an autumn-tinted maple leaf just where the white of the three crosses intersects. Why change the Union Jack? Just add our bit to support it.” — B.E.T., Marlbank, Ont.

A Native Son’s Opinion

"The most outstanding national article on Canadianism that you have ever printed, sums up my opinion of Mr. Hugh Savage’s article on ‘This Flag Question.’ I would draw to your attention, however, that the Native Sons of Canada, a nationwide organized patriotic society, has been vigorously demanding a more distinctive national banner for the past five years, and about a year ago had a delegation wait on Premier King concerning the flag and nationality question. Within the last few months, so many prominent clubs and societies, as well as public men, have voiced a demand for a proper flag with which to inculcate loyalty to Canada, advertise their commerce abroad, and arouse a national spirit at home that we thought all opposition had died out, but some of your letters indicate that there are still a few narrow-minded individuals left, who, like modern Canutes, would stand before Niagara and command the raging waters to cease flowing. Imperialists in Canada who are opposed to it would do well to stop and think the matter out seriously, because there is at the present time no suggestion of leaving out the Union Jack, but, if the national flag is much longer denied there may come a day when Canadians will demand a banner that is wholly and entirely distinctive of the Dominion.”—I. F. MacDonald, President, Assembly No. 6, Sons of Canada, North Vancouver, B.C.

Three Who Vote “Yea”

We are habitual readers of your mos' interesting magazine. In reading this month’s copy we were intensely interested in the project of a national flag for Canada. We feel that it would be a fitting symbol of the independence she has gained and the progress she has made since confederation.

We have seen the flags offered by the Manitoba Free Press and La Presse, Montreal, and the one which meets our approval is the one designed by La Presse. We feel that a more fitting emblem of our Dominion would be the Union Jack as background with the green Maple Leaf of Canada in the centre.—Jeannette Foshay, Margaret Fullerton, Elizabeth Armstrong.—Wolfville, N.S.

What About a Navy?

“Have our separate flag, but also let us be men enough to follow the example of Australia and New Zealand and help pay for its protection by building a navy, or contributing to one. Advocating a flag costs nothing, but paying for the protection does. Advocate the latter and listen to the squeal.”—J. S. G., Rapid City, Man .

A Reply to “H. A. T.”

“If a few words from an ordinary laborer are not out of place among contributors from professional men, I’d like to submit that in his letter in your October 15th issue, H. A. T. is talking through his H-A-T. Honor graduate Queen’s in English and History, lately tutor in English, unfairly throws suspicion on the motives of those who favor a Canadian flag and questions their loyalty, then, schoolboy fashion, he proceeds to call names. Might I also remark to Honor graduate in History that, though I am not very strong in history, I find that the present Union Jack came into existence only after 1801, when the union of the parliaments of Great Britain and Ireland took place. Consequently, when ‘Wolfe, the dauntless hero, came and planted firm Britannia’s flag on Canada’s fair domain,’ the present Union Jack did not exist. Mr. H. A. T., I shall not rave against those who are against the Canadian flag. Raging and raving will get us nowhere. I believe that there are men who have breadth of vision, wise discernment, and a consciousness of Canada’s future within the Empire on both sides of the question, and it will take more than empty words to stop the wave of Canadian national consciousness that is sweeping across our Dominion.”—J. A. R., Moose Jaw, Sask.

This Flag Question

“The need of a distinctive flag seems obvious to me. One can only smile at the ignorance of those who seem to think that, because Canadians overseas had no distinctive flag, they were content to be known simply as British troops.”—R. W. Hardy, Maymont, Sask.

Would Let Things Alone

“I am pure English, born in Canada, both parents migrating from England nearly twenty-seven years ago, and I am profoundly loyal to the British Empire and the good old Union Jack as well. I believe that Canada is well off as she is with her Ensign and the Union Jack, and, therefore, I believe that this controversy should end and leave matters as they are, not only for Canada’s good, but for her place and position in the Empire as well.” —N.S., Shell Brook, Sask.

Quotation from Hansard

“Re Lesson on Flags, by ‘A British Canuck.’ See Hansard of June 17, 1929, No. 89, page 4542, the Rt. Hon. Mackenzie King’s reply to Mr. Church, in part as follows: ‘The Committee of the

Privy Council have had before them a report dated 21st of April, 1925, from the Minister of National Defence, stating that a Canadian flag has been authorized to be used by Canadian Governmentowned vessels and by other vessels of Canadian registration, and that there is throughout the country a desire that there should also be adopted for use ashore a distinctive flag which shall be recognized as the flag of the Dominion of Canada.’ And further, the Prime Minister says: T had a letter from the Hon. Mr. Fielding, Minister of Finance, expressing very strongly the view that Canada should have a flag of her own’.”—John A. Remey, Moose Jaw, Sask.

Question for “H. A.”

“As a Scotsman, I would like ‘H. A.,’ of Winnipeg to kindly explain what he means by the English flag flying at the border, for it is only on rare occasions that one sees the flag of England—the red cross of St. George on a white ground. Probably he meant the British flag. There is no more loyal part of the British Empire than New Zealand, which has a distinctive national flag, so I do not think the Empire will collapse if Canada follows her example.”—W. M., Halifax, N.S.

Likes French Idea

Canada should have a flag for land purposes, and the design chosen by the Montreal La Presse is decidedly fitting. That a paper representative of our French population should include the Union Jack in its design should make that part of it unanimous. So far as the maple leaf on the flag is concerned, I consider there can be no more fitting emblem. Every Canadian soldier wore that leaf during the war, and all countries of both allies and enemies recognize it immediately as Canadian. The maple leaf is absolutely Canadian, and I never saw it anywhere else so far as I remember. I have seen “the dipper” in every country I have been in, therefore I think the design of the

Winnipeg Free Press rather inappropriate in so far as the stars are not simply Canadian. I also feel it would be out of reason to put in the flag a shield bearing the several provincial coats-of-arms. It would lead to years of arguing in parliament as to where the different provinces would have their emblems placed.— F. C. H., Grandview, Man.

History Again Repeats

This flag question is a mere rehash of what took place in England in 1893, when both Houses of Parliament and the newspapers grew choleric all about the Union Jack and the Royal Standard and the Pilot’s Call. Any one who wishes to enjoy a very good account of the excitement would do well to consult Memories of the Nineteenth Century, pages 328 and following, by the Earl of Meath, who died recently in his 88th year.—T. P. F., Hull, P.Q.

Another Design

“My idea of a distinctive flag would be the Union Jack retained upper mast quarter. Directly underneath, the Dominion coat-of-arms. On the other half, each province’s coat-of-arms placed in order, geographically, east to west. The ground could be blue, with gold or white markings, or embodied on the present Red Ensign.”—J. L. E., Poplar Point, Man.

Still Another Design

“My personal choice for a Canadian flag would simply consist of the Union Jack with a brochure or medallion containing the arms of the original four provinces of Canada, supported by the maple leaf, as used today in the fly of the Canadian Red Ensign. It would be necessary, however, to enlarge the medallion so as to contain the arms of all the Canadian provinces. The medallion would be placed in the centre of the Union Jack.”—R. I., Shelburne, N.S.

Canadian Daughters’ League

“The Canadian Daughters’ League, Assembly No. 18, wish to express their appreciation of the splendid stand taken by MacLean’s in the matter of a distinctive flag for Canada at home and abroad. Our members were unanimous in favor of extending to you our sincerest thanks for your articles on Canadian national problems. Your publicity in creating public opinion and stirring up a greater national sentiment is of untold value to Canada.” — M. A. Fraser, Secretary.

From Nova Scotia

“Don’t you think it time that someone from Nova Scotia had something to say concerning this flag question? Í have carefully read the article by Mr. Hugh Savage, in your issue of September 15, and also the exchange views by various leading Canadian newspapers; but I am very disappointed to see that Nova Scotians are apparently playing such a small part in so important a matter. Is it lack of interest, or because of the spirit of Conservatism which dominates the Province?

“We here in Nova Scotia, are more than proud of the Union Jack which has stood the test for so many years. Therefore, when some of us suggest a distinct flag for Canada, we don’t in any way wish to lessen or sever the ties which bind us to the mother country. We are not tampering with our loyalty, neither are we leaving the ranks of those who have vision. Each of the other Dominions has a distinctive flag; Canada has not an official flag. As a nation, very young no doubt, we are finding our place with the other nations of the world. If all goes well, time bids us even a greater place in the future. Why then, should we not have a standard distinctively our own?

“Hon J. B. Baxter, Prime Minister of New Brunswick, struck a true note when he said: ‘Ninety-nine people out of a

hundred think of the Canadian Ensign as the Canadian flag.’ In order to test the accuracy of the Minister’s statement, I took the trouble to ask several hundred school children if Canada had a flag. All agreed that she had, and the great majority referred me to the Canadian Ensign. It certainly appears that young Canada is growing up with the idea that Canada has a distinctive flag. Why not make a reality of that which now appears to be?” —L. Weldon Mosher, Dartmouth, N.S.

What is Most Needed

“I think that we could have our own flag, allowing the dear old Union Jack all the prominence that the most rabid Imperialist could desire. Because we as a nation desire to express our individuality is no reason to cry treason. We in Canada need above all things today, a national spirit. A spirit that says T am a Canadian, first last and always. Not a spirit that says my mother was Scotch, dad was English, me, I was born in this country. What am I? Scotch Canadian, Englishman or what have you? So I say, here’s to a Canadian flag, the sooner the better.”—H. F. Stanton, Kamloops, B.C.

Yet Another Maple Leaf Vote

“Your article on the flag question seems to labor a point by no means admitted, namely, that the Red Ensign applies only to our shipping, and cannot be used on land.

“When the Union Jack is used for a King’s flag, or as a special regimental flag, it is differentiated by some appropriate symbol. But the King does not display

the Royal Arms, the Lion and the Unicorn, etc., but the symbol of a crown. On the other hand, Canada puts the whole Canadian arms in the fly.

“Now, as the royal symbol is a crown, would not the mojt appropriate symbol of Canada be a green maple leaf, rather than the display of the arms of Canada? Then, the whole matter can be settled surely to please everybody, by substituting for these Canadian arms the green maple leaf, displayed in the fly of the Red Ensign; and let this Red Ensign, so charged with this substituted green maple leaf, be recognized by the Canadian Parliament as the official Canadian flag.

“Even though we Nova Scotians have had a flag of our own for many years, long before Confederation, we are yet interested in a proper Canadian flag.” — H. Percy Blanchard, Ellershouse, N.S.

Let the Flag Alone

“I am very much pleased with you: magazine, but say, let the flag alone. The Union Jack is good enough to live under surely, when so many have died for it.” —A. S. W., Picton, Ont.

A Tough Question

“I took great interest in the letters and interviews you have published in your issue of October 15 in connection with the flag question. Might I ask a question? Are those whom you have interviewed and asked for comment, Canadian-born? I ask this because I do not think that those other than Canadian-born should be asked if we should have a Canadian flag. Do you not think that this is a matter purely for those born in this country? I sincerely trust that we shall have a distinctive Canadian Flag in the near future.”—Cecil Cameron, Toronto.