Canada’s red and white national flag with its beautiful maple leaf is one of the most famous and most recognizable flags in the world. But did you know that it is actually a fairly young flag, which was quite controversial at first? We’ll give you the facts on that one for sure and talk about Canada’s favourite summer holiday Canada Day. So you cannot only buy amazing, 100% pure maple syrup products on our site, but we also want to provide you with great information on our home and native land Canada, fun facts on maple syrup and everything else that has to do with the iconic national tree on this blog.
So what’s the deal with the maple leaf in Canada?
The maple leaf as a symbol can be traced back to the beginning of the 18th century. Back then, the maple leaf had been taken on as an emblem by the French Canadians along the Saint Lawrence River. In 1834, the first St. Jean Baptiste Society adopted the maple leaf as its emblem. Jacques Viger, the first mayor of Montreal, described the maple as "the king of our forest; ... the symbol of the Canadian people."
In 1868, the maple leaf appeared on the coat of arms of both Ontario and Quebec, and was added to the Canadian coat of arms in 1921. Historically, the golden maple leaf represented Ontario, while the green maple leaf represented Quebec.
In 1867, Alexander Muir composed the patriotic "The Maple Leaf Forever" song, which became an unofficial anthem in English-speaking Canada. From 1876 until 1901, the leaf appeared on all Canadian coins, and remained on the penny after 1901.
The maple leaf finally became the central national symbol with the introduction of the Canadian flag in 1965. Originally, Canada’s official flag was the Union Jack, or said quite bluntly, Canada didn’t really have an own flag since it was a British colony.
It was Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson, who had proposed the Maple Leaf as a new flag in 1964. The suggestion spawned one of the longest parliamentary debates in Canadian history.
Older, conservative Canadians said the Red Ensign was the flag that Canadians had fought and died under during two world wars, and one that reflected Canada’s historic ties to Britain and current ties to the monarchy. But in the end, Pearson won the debate and the Maple Leaf became the Canadian flag after 10 months of controversy.
When it was first officially raised over Parliament Hill in Ottawa on February 15, 1965, the Speaker of the Senate Maurice Bourget said "The flag is the symbol of the nation's unity, for it, beyond any doubt, represents all the citizens of Canada without distinction of race, language, belief, or opinion." This historic date is now celebrated annually as the National Flag of Canada Day since 1996.
What kind of maple leaf am I seeing on the Canadian flag?
The maple leaf chosen is a generic one representing the ten species of maple trees native to Canada - at least one of these species grows natively in every province. It has eleven points. However, the number of points has no special significance. The flag was designed by George Stanley.
Aside from finding the maple leaf on the Canadian flag, it is now commonly used on logos of various Canadian based companies like Air Canada and the logos of Canadian sports teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto FC soccer club and the Toronto Blue Jays. Companies that are originally US-based also use the maple leaf in their logos like McDonald's Canada, General Motors Canada, and Wendy's Canada, who replaced the normal apostrophe found at U.S. locations by a maple leaf. Mocking birds say that US companies use the maple leaf as a “security blanket” to make Canadians feel comfortable and homey.
Where does that maple tree grow, actually?
Of the 125 species of maple (botanical name: Acer) which are found worldwide, over two-thirds grow in China; 10 are native to Canada. Maples grow in various soils and at varying altitudes but prefer deep, moist, fertile soils. Sugar, black, silver, red and striped maples are found in the East; mountain maple occurs eastwards from Manitoba; Manitoba maple in Saskatchewan and Manitoba; bigleaf, Douglas and vine maples in British Columbia.
The maple wood is extremely durable and a treasured resource for hardwood flooring, kitchen cabinets and other furniture. However, it is overshadowed by the worldwide fame of maple syrup and maple products like maple sugar, maple butter, maple jelly and others.
Hey, you forgot the most important thing: Canada Day!
Why are we publishing this blog post right now? Of course, because Canada Day is coming up!
Canada Day is the national day of Canada frequently referred to as "Canada's birthday". The Constitution Act of July 1, 1867 united three colonies into a single country called Canada within the British Empire. On that day, the British North American colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada joined into a federation of four provinces (the Province of Canada being divided, in the process, into Ontario and Quebec) on July 1, 1867.
Canada became a kingdom in its own right on that date, called the Dominion of Canada, but the British parliament and Cabinet kept limited rights of political control over the new country. These limited rights were shed by stages over the years until the last vestiges were surrendered in 1982. It was in 1982 as well when Dominion Day was renamed to Canada Day.
So what are the Canadians doing on Canada Day?
Canadians like to have fun, and since the summers are usually gorgeous in this beautiful country, there are a lot of awesome activities going on July 1. The biggest celebrations take place in the big cities Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal and of course in Canada’s capital Ottawa, which is Canada Day party central so to speak.
Most communities, big and small, across the country will host organized celebrations for Canada Day, usually outdoor public events, such as parades, carnivals, festivals, barbecues, air and maritime shows, fireworks, and free musical concerts, as well as citizenship ceremonies for new citizens. This is great fun for people of all ages and backgrounds. Many people dress up in Canada’s national colours red and white, wear gear with the Maple Leaf and wave Canada flags.
In the national capital Ottawa large concerts and cultural displays are held on Parliament Hill, with the governor general and prime minister officiating. The British monarch or another member of the Royal Family may also attend or take the governor general's place. The streets are seemed with happy people, and the atmosphere is joyous, festive and easy going. Pretty awesome, eh?
No matter, if you live in Canada and can join these activities or live half way around the world: we wish you a wonderful, joyful day. Send a good thought to Canada on that day and join us in celebrating!
with material from
Jean-Pierre Romain, Maple Maniac