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Canada’s first and last flags on display at the Canadian Museum of Civilization

Canada’s first and last flags on display at the Canadian Museum of Civilization

Gatineau, Quebec, June 28, 2006 — The very first Canadian flag (the Maple Leaf) and the very last Red Ensign went on display inside the Canadian Museum of Civilization today, just in time for Canada Day.

The two historic flags are being shown in the public lobby of Canada’s most visited museum. Also being displayed is the “Pearson Pennant”, a prototype of the Canadian Maple Leaf that was favoured by the Prime Minister of the day. The flags will be on display to the end of 2006, during the Museum’s 150th anniversary year.

“As a university student, I closely followed the emotional public arguments that were know as the ‘Flag Debate’. But once the debate ended and the new flag was flying, we felt a sense of pride and recognition from this clear, iconic symbol” recalls Dr. Victor Rabinovitch, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation. “Today at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, we have a similar mission of fostering in Canadians a sense of collective identity and shared past.”

The story of the Maple Leaf flag is a fascinating chapter in Canada’s history. Until 1965, the Union Jack and the Red Ensign were often used at formal events and on public buildings, although they had not been adopted as official national emblems.

Judge John Matheson, often called the “father” of the Canadian flag, was in attendance at the unveiling of the flags this morning. In September 1964, the Pearson government appointed a 15-member, special parliamentary committee, headed by Mr. Matheson, to consider flag designs that had been submitted to the government. Parliament chose the red-and-white Maple Leaf because of its simplicity and its symbolism. “I remember the crowd cheering the day the flag was raised above the Peace Tower. It was a highlight for me. I think this flag stands for Canada. Which means everybody equally,” recounts Mr. Matheson.

The first Maple Leaf to fly on Parliament Hill was returned to Canada on June 29, 2005 by Elisabeth Hoffman-Lamoureux, second wife of Lucien Lamoureux, former Speaker of the House of Commons. The flag had been used to cover Mr. Lamoureux’s coffin at his funeral in 1998 after which Mme Lamoureux kept it until its return to Canada last year.

The first Maple Leaf flag is on loan from the House of Commons. The last Red Ensign and the Pearson Pennant are part of the national collection of the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

Media Information:

Chief, Media Relations
Canadian Museum of Civilization
Tel.: (819) 776-7167

Media Relations Officer
Canadian Museum of Civilization
Tel.: (819) 776-7169

Fax: (819) 776-7187

2006-06-28 00:00:00.000

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