Why Does the Canadian Flag Have a Maple Leaf?

Written by kim kenney
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Why Does the Canadian Flag Have a Maple Leaf?
The maple leaf has been associated with Canada for centuries (Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

In 1921, King George proclaimed that the official colours of the Canadian flag would be red and white. The Canadian government adopted the single maple-leaf flag design on October 22, 1964.

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The maple leaf on the Canadian flag is a symbol of pride, duty and valour. The maple tree is native to Canada and is found throughout its provinces, and timber has been an important part of Canada's economy for centuries.


Aboriginal people prized the maple tree for its sap. In 1836, the newspaper La Canadien declared that the maple leaf was a "suitable emblem" for the country. Canadian Olympic athletes began wearing a red maple-leaf emblem in 1904.

Military Influence

During World War I and World War II, many Canadian military battalions incorporated a maple leaf into their insignia. Prime Minister Lester Pearson recalled the military association and campaigned to replace the British Union Jack with the maple leaf on the national flag in time for Canada's 1967 centennial celebration.

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