How Ontario Got That United Kingdom-ish Flag

How Ontario Got That United Kingdom-ish FlagIn Toronto, we're getting Simcoe Day off on Monday, but it's not Simcoe Day everywhere in Ontario.

Civic Holiday may also be known by one of a number of local appellations such as Mountie Day in North York, Colonel By Day in Ottawa, George Hamilton Day in Hamilton, Joseph Brant Day in Burlington, Founders' Day in Brantford, McLaughlin Day in Oshawa, Alexander Mackenzie Day in Sarnia, James Cockburn Day in Cobourg, Peter Robinson Day in Peterborough, and John Galt Day in Guelph, as well as numerous other names in smaller municipalities.

Speaking of Ontario, our flag is awfully British. Allow me to demonstrate and then explain how this came to be.

This is the United Kingdom Union Flag they've been using since 1801.

uk

This is the Canadian Red Ensign flag Canada was using before 1965. You'll notice it has the Union Flag in there as a nod to our motherland.

red-ensign

But in 1965, PM Pearson lobbied for a flag without the Union Jack, a symbol of our independence. This ticked off Diefenbaker who was rather fond of the Red Ensign. This familiar red maple leaf became Canada's new flag:

canada

Diefenbaker wasn't the only one upset we lost the Union Jack. Ontario Premier Robarts wanted Ontario to adopt a new flag that restored this history, so Ontario got this flag with the good 'ol Union Jack featured prominently.

ontario

And that's how Ontario's flag came to look so damn British.


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Comments (29 - click here to join in!)

elvis

I hope my kids see a Canadian Republic.

August 3, 2012 @ 5:47 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@elvis

At least Pearson got the Union Jack off the flag. We have our own flag, now we just have to kick out the monarchy.

August 3, 2012 @ 5:51 PM

Corey

Yes, we must abolish all traces of how this country was founded. Think of how offended people from other ethnic origins must be every time they see that Ontario flag!

August 3, 2012 @ 6:55 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Corey

It's not about erasing how this country was founded, it's about finding our own identity. We're an independent nation, after all.

August 3, 2012 @ 8:00 PM

Corey

Mike, tell it to Quebec with their Fleur-de-lis.

I'm pretty sure Canada has found its own identity by now. We're an independent country now, but we have a very distinct progression than that of the USA, and it's nothing to be ashamed of.

Should we change British Columbia to Canadian Columbia? Should Alberta be known as Calgaria now? Oh! What are we going to do about Prince Edward Island? And Manitoba's flag has got to go!

I'm proud of everything Canada has achieved as an independent. Nation, and I'm also proud of our history.

I wonder how Australia lives with themselves.

August 3, 2012 @ 8:44 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Corey

This entry wasn't written with a political slant. It was just a fun little history lesson for those who don't know the Ontario flag is so British because of the introduction of a non-British Canadian flag in 1965.

I honestly have no passionate dislike for the Ontario flag, believe it or not.

August 3, 2012 @ 9:09 PM

elvis

As far as I'm concerned, we're not a free country. And Corey, the 45% of Australians who voted for a Republic in 1999 aren't all that pleased either.

August 4, 2012 @ 10:09 AM

CQ

Doesn't every Cdn. provincial flag contain a British symbol? Our only exceptions being Quebec with its opposite origin Fleur-de-lis, and Alberta (which was named, like PEI, after a royal).

August 4, 2012 @ 10:16 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@CQ

In addition to Ontario, you'll find the Union Jack on the Manitoba flag and BC flag.

It doesn't appear on any other provincial flag.

August 4, 2012 @ 11:03 AM

elvis

CQ is correct though - British symbols do appear on other provincial flags.

August 4, 2012 @ 8:34 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@elvis

Only because those symbols were already part of the province's coat of arms.

August 4, 2012 @ 8:55 PM

Rick C in Oakville

I love our British Heritage, we have a stable country, we welcome any race, religion etc. It may not be perfect but something to be very proud of.

August 6, 2012 @ 6:41 PM

Miquelon

I would like to give those who wish to change the flag an opportunity to petition the government and the premier to appoint a commission.

https://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/premier-of-ontario-to-create-a-commission-to-study-proposals-for-a-new-flag-of-ontario

Please sign the petititon if you agree. If you don't, then don't !

August 7, 2012 @ 10:57 AM

Pete McPhedran

From the above mentioned "Let's get a new flag" website: "The current flag of Ontario does not reflect the province's cultural, ethnic and linguistic diversity", neither does the name of the province, do we change that now too?

Since when did the flag of the Province have to convey the "cultural, ethnic and linguistic diversity"? Also, rehtorically, how the hell would you even do that?

If you don't like our history, please feel free to locate the corner of China, Suadi Arabia or pre-WWII Germany, that fits your attitude, dig a hole there and lie down in it. If those locations don;t float yer boat, pck another one outside of Canada.

While we're at it, I don't think the flag of Toronto truly represents me, I want it changed.

F@ck! Why doesn't everyone just put 1/100th the energy in to getting a job, doing their job or leaving other people's jobs alone and we would be a much happier society.

--Pete

August 7, 2012 @ 1:32 PM

Pete McPhedran

Ha, Seems that the French guy that created that stoopid petition to get a new flag has all of 5 signatures and his own web site, linked on the change.org site is infected with a virus. Nice.

After many deletes of what I wanted to say, reddit showed the best:

"Intentionally reducing it to that in an attempt to invalidate it in order to fulfill your own political aims makes you come across as a disingenuous manipulative piece of shit."

Hear, hear!

--Pete

August 7, 2012 @ 1:43 PM

Miquelon

Hey Pete, what's truly fascinating to me with this flag issue is how opponents seem to go totally ape-shit instead of discussing the matter of this truly ugly flag.

When you say 'French guy', is that your way of making me less relevant to the discussion? Is that code for 'foreigner' or 'sub-human'?

As for any virus issues, please back up your claim as I am quite diligent with making sure my sites are clean.

August 8, 2012 @ 11:47 AM

Richard Pelland

There is no doubt in my mind that Ontario's and Manitoba's flags are outdated relics of a bygone era. Ontario should consider a new trillium based flag that is more inclusive and more representative of our society. I feel absolutely no attachment to the current flag. It has not been successful in building a sense of pride in our province. There is virtually nothing distinctive about it. It don't think that should be the message our collective flag displays: Ontario, utterly lacking in originality, or nothing you haven't already seen elsewhere.

October 13, 2013 @ 12:54 PM

Jack-o-Lantern

I think Toronto should separate from the rest of Ontario. Toronto can then get its own new flag while the rest of Ontario can keep the old flag.

July 24, 2014 @ 10:48 AM

scott

Those of you who want to change the Ontario flag need to learn your history. The Union flag was Canada's flag from its founding, through two world wars up to 1965. It deserves and demands a level of respect as part of Canada's history.
In a day and age when everything's flying off in every direction, keeping an important symbol from our history is vital.

September 22, 2014 @ 7:55 AM

scott

Those of you who want to change the Ontario flag need to learn your history. The Union flag was Canada's flag from its founding, through two world wars up to 1965. It deserves and demands a level of respect as part of Canada's history.
In a day and age when everything's flying off in every direction, keeping an important symbol from our history is vital.

September 22, 2014 @ 7:56 AM

scott

Those of you who want to change the Ontario flag need to learn your history. The Union flag was Canada's flag from its founding, through two world wars up to 1965. It deserves and demands a level of respect as part of Canada's history.
In a day and age when everything's flying off in every direction, keeping an important symbol from our history is vital.

September 22, 2014 @ 7:56 AM

scott

Those of you who want to change the Ontario flag need to learn your history. The Union flag was Canada's flag from its founding, through two world wars up to 1965. It deserves and demands a level of respect as part of Canada's history.
In a day and age when everything's flying off in every direction, keeping an important symbol from our history is vital.

September 22, 2014 @ 7:56 AM

Jean-Richard Pelland

I think that Robarts's desire to snub his nose at Canada's national flag is reason enough to consider replacing it. This province was built by many people, not just the American refugees who came to be called Loyalists. In any case, the current flag is overly colonial and not distinctive at all.

October 13, 2014 @ 1:04 PM

Bryan Clouthier

We all need an historical review. Canada did NOT become a country in 1867. On July 1st, 1867 we combined four British colonies into one large colony. We did not become a country until the signing of the Statute of Westminster, in 1932, and we would wait until the signing of the Canada Act in 1982 to achieve full independence.

The canton (Upper left quadrant) is the most important location of any flag. The British Union Flag, located in the canton of Ontario's flag, symbolizes The United Kingdom's supremacy over us. This is further emphasized by having St. George's Cross (England, including Wales) contained on the flag's fly. We fought world wars under the Union Jack because we were not independent at the time, and were part of the British war effort.

In order to display our pride in being a proud province of an independent Canada, it is time to remove the British Union Flag from Ontario's. We need a distinctive Ontario symbol in the Ontario flag. I do not believe three men in a triangular hot tub will cut it. The old trillium design is timeless, easy for a child to draw, and does not alienate anybody. Its simplicity, like that of our Canadian Maple Leaf flag, is what makes it distinctive.

February 23, 2015 @ 11:25 AM

Canadian Patriot

When it all comes down to it, Ontario probably has the best flag of all of the provinces in Canada. It is surely better than that disgusting doodle of a flag that Pearson pushed on the nation. He was just butt hurt that a bunch of Egyptians felt that our peacekeepers were "British." The egyptians didn't even diserve peacekeepers and in fact Canada should have joined the UK in wiping them of the map! The fact is nobody wanted our national flag, and the generations after have been indoctrinated to lovevit and deny all of Canada's history pre-1965 because its not inclusive. The ontario flag is not only visually appealing, but it also serves to ward off Americanization and promotes the idea that Canada has a complex history and isnt just any standard boring republic of a western democracy.

May 12, 2017 @ 8:13 PM

andrewS

@Canadian Patriot

I disagree, Ontario's flag is bland and boring and, in essence, a placeholder that nobody ever
bothered to update. Is there not anything more symbolic to Ontario than its distant colonial past? (Manitoba's flag, essentially the same thing with a different coat of arms, is even worse given that province's unique history as the only province created by rebellion... flying a deeply colonial flag?) How good is a flag if people don't embrace it and proudly fly it?

Other provinces have managed to make their flags simultaneously a historical tribute ... and iconic. At opposite ends of the country, BC and Newfoundland have both done this very successfully, both flags that people are proud to fly. Newfoundland's derived Union Jack is itself so iconic that it's become a symbol of their diaspora and is instantly recognizable even to people who have never been to the province. So too, Quebec's. In fact, if you drive across the country, Ontario is the only province where you don't see the flag flying away from schools or government offices. it's really the only flag that you might see and ask yourself "hmm, I wonder what that is", vs the instantly recognizable flags of pretty much any other province. This is partly because it's so inert, but partly because it isn't' widely flown.

If people don't identify with it, it's simply not a good symbol. We are no longer an outpost of Britain, and it's time for our symbols to reflect that. Pay tribute if you wish, but ex-colony should not be the prime identifier.

May 13, 2017 @ 1:23 PM

James Clarke

A Canadian Republic would be a disaster...
People shouldn’t hide the foundation of our nation. Sure, take history with a grain of salt. But don’t hide it from us. Our nation lacks unity because we are dividing ourselves on petty arguments like the flag of Ontario. To have our own identity we need to unite and appreciate Canada for its current transition. We are a great nation which is now distinct from the United Kingdom yet, we understand our history. You cannot hide our history, learn from it. And not to mention a republic would abolish the reconciliation the Crown has done with indigenous people’s and others. The Crown in Canada also is cheaper than a republic and it preserves the parliamentary democracy which we live in.

May 23, 2018 @ 5:13 PM

James Alcock

Leave the flag alone. It represents our founding and history. It's beautiful.

June 21, 2018 @ 9:52 PM

Colin Johnston

@andrewS ...
The Ontario flag is proudly displayed at every ON rout, school, court houses, many parks, malls, hell even fast food stops and all Canadian tires fly it. Many city halls or town squares (Kingston, bath, petawawa, Ottawa Belleville) I was in NYC for Victoria Day long weekend and one of the largest boats I saw in a harbour in lower Manhattan had a enourmus Ontario flag. HMS Hamilton or possibly just the Hamilton.

Go out to any cottage country in Ontario, on lodges, boats, mugs sold in stores that flag is everywhere. I adore it and it’s past. Most ontarionns agree if not there would be a debate. And if there is a debate hopefully it’s like New Zealand.

I haven’t been to any Provence other than Quebec (maybe PEI or Alberta in Calgary and Edmonton only tho..)with unparalleled support via amount of provincial flags than Ontario. And I have been to just about most now.

July 11, 2018 @ 2:54 AM

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