10. Should there be white?
White should appeal to both the British and French camps. It’s very French, appearing on France’s royal emblems since King Charles VII’s days but it’s also found on the English Cross of St. George. Back in 1921, King George V had said in 1921 that Canada’s colours were red and white, a nod to the country’s French and English traditions.
It’s a symbol of purity, dog-free snow and innocence but also surrender.
9. Should there be green on the flag?
An optimist – especially one from Ireland – would argue it’s a symbol of fertility, hope, vigor and Canada’s abundant forests.
8. Should there be yellow on the flag?
Would this symbolize golden wheat fields? Or is a yellow the colour of dried out, dying vegetation?
7. Should there be blue or would that make it look too American?
Blue’s associated with oceans and Quebec as well as the United Nations and peacekeeping.
But if the flag was red, white and blue, it would be adopting American colours.
6. If the maple leaf was included, how many should there be? Pearson liked a design with three leaves and blue bands that became known as the "Pearson Pennant.”
Critics argued this cluster of maple leaves reminded them of a bunch of poison ivy.
5. If a maple leaf was to be displayed, should it be red?
Would red be a tip of the hat to the RCMP, justice and the rule of law, as well as Britain, since red is a central colour of George’s Cross.
4. Even if the maple leaf was selected, there were several questions about what sort of leaf should be used. One sub-debate concerned how many points it should have. In the end, the selection committee decided it didn’t really matter and chose what looked best in wind tunnel testing.
3. How about the maple leaf as a symbol. It was the overwhelming favorite as a national symbol from the designs mailed in, appearing on 2,136 suggestions.
The maple leaf has been a Canadian emblem since the 1700s and was used on the uniforms of Canadian soldiers in two world wars, as well as Olympic athletes.
It was featured on the coats of arms of Canada, Ontario and Quebec and The Maple Leaf Forever” is an unofficial national anthem in English-speaking Canada.
It also had both French and English roots. Stanley noted that, back in 1806, the Quebecois newspaper Le Canadien suggested it would make an appropriate Canadian symbol while it was worn to greet the Prince of Wales in 1860.
Still, it’s also found in Europe and Asia and isn’t solely Canadian.
2. And what about the beaver? For 389 would-be flag designers, the beaver is a fitting symbol for a nation that liked to consider itself progressive, industrious and conservationist. It also harkened back to early days of the fur trade and has been included on early Canadian coats of arms dating back to 1673, when Louis de Buade, the Comte de Frontenac, suggested it for New France.
Others felt the beaver was just a plump rodent that’s not even exclusive to Canada.
1. Should the new flag contain obvious British or French symbols?
Plenty of people thought it should, as 408 of the submitted designs included the British Union Jack and 359 had the French Fleurs-de-lys. For his part, Prime Minister Lester Pearson wanted Canada’s flag to be devoid of any colonial association.
Conservative leader John Diefenbaker countered that the Union Jack should be prominent.
At least one citizen, likely a young one, mailed in a design that suggested the Beatles would make a better British symbol.
Thousands of Canadians took out their paint brushes, construction paper and pencils and went to work 50 years ago, when Prime Minister Lester Pearson announced that a hunt was on for a new flag.
Flags had flown over Canada since at least 1497, but none of them were truly and officially Canadian.
So when Pearson said he was looking for a new, wholly-Canada flag, would-be designers mailed in 3,541 suggestions to Ottawa.
On October 22, 1964, after often-furious debate, the final version was chosen, the brainchild of George F.G. Stanley, a distinguished author, soldier and public servant.
Stanley, the dean of arts at the Royal Military College, drew inspiration from his college’s flag, with its two broad red bands on either side of a white band with a crest of a mailed fist.
He placed a red maple leaf in the middle on a white band, where the RMC mailed fist had been.
In doing so, Stanley hoped to create something that was unifying, simple, distinctive and easily recognizable from a distance. He sought to use traditional symbols to rally people at a time when Quebec separatist sentiments were on the rise.
“The single leaf has the virtue of simplicity; it emphasizes the distinctive Canadian symbol; and suggests the idea of loyalty to a single country,” Stanley wrote in a confidential letter to John Matheson, then a Liberal MP from Brockville and Pearson’s pointman on the flag issue.
Before finally settling on Stanley’s design, the flag committee considered plenty of questions. Among them