The Flag of Canada reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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Flag of Canada

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The National Flag of Canada, popularly known as the Maple Leaf Flag (French: l'Unifolié "the one-leaved"), is a base red flag with a white square in its centre, featuring a red stylized 11-pointed maple leaf.

For much of its post-Confederation history, Canada had used the British Union Flag as its official national flag, with the Canadian Red Ensign as a popularly recognized specifically Canadian variant.

Although the idea of a new design for the national flag had been discussed for decades in the 20th century, it was in the 1960s that the debate intensified and became a subject of considerable controversy. The principal political proponent of the change was Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, while the main opponent was leader of the opposition and former prime minister, John Diefenbaker, who made it his personal crusade not only for sentimental reasons but also for political advantage. Eventually, a multi-party parliamentary committee was established to select a new design. Through a period of study with some political manoeuvring the committee came up with the current design, which was created by George Stanley, inspired by the flag of The Royal Military College of Canada. The committee made its final selection on October 22, 1964.

The new flag was adopted by the House of Commons on December 15, 1964 (the Senate added its approval two days later). It was officially proclaimed into law by Queen Elizabeth II on February 15, 1965. Since 1995, February 15 has been commemorated as National Flag of Canada Day.

Despite the preceding acrimony, the new flag was quickly embraced by the Canadian public, and internationally the flag quickly became a welcome marker of Canadians around the world.

The white centre is a device unique to Canada, blazoned a Canadian pale, being a pale 1/2 the width of the field rather than 1/3 (in heraldry, a pale is a vertical stripe). The flag may be blazoned Gules, on a Canadian pale argent a maple leaf of the field.

The official colours are red and white, proclaimed in 1921 by King George V.

It is a popular misconception that the 11 points on the maple leaf have some significance; for example, the ten provinces plus the federal government. This is not so; the number of points have no significance, and the figure is simply a stylized representation of a natural maple leaf.

By a figure-ground reversal of the white square and the maple leaf, the two upper corners of the square can be seen as silhouettes of two angry faces arguing. This has often been considered evocative of the nature of Canadian federalism, but was wholly unintentional.

In Canadian Culture, various patriotic comic book Canadian superheroes use the Maple Leaf Flag as the basis for their costumes, much like how Captain America's costume is based on the Stars and Stripes flag. Hence, these characters' costumes are typically red and white with a red maple leaf as their symbol. Canadian superheroes who use this visual motif include:

Flags of Canadian Provinces and Territories:

Alberta - British Columbia - Manitoba - New Brunswick - Newfoundland and Labrador - Northwest Territories - Nova Scotia - Nunavut - Ontario - Prince Edward Island - Quebec - Saskatchewan - Yukon

See also

National flags
List of national flags | Gallery of national flags
List of national coats of arms