Early in 1964, the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable
Lester B. Pearson, informed the House of Commons of the government's
desire to adopt a distinctive national flag for Canada. He personally
proposed a flag with three red maple leaves between two blue borders.
After reviewing the hundreds of designs submitted by experts and other
Canadians, the Senate and House of Commons Committee, which had been
established by the government to consider the flag proposal, set about
classifying the designs.
The Committee, after having eliminated various designs, was left
with only three: a Red Ensign with the fleur-de-lys and the Royal Union
Flag (Union Jack), the three-leaf design, and a single red maple leaf on
a white square on a red flag. The single-leaf design was adopted
unanimously by the Committee on October 29, 1964. It was proclaimed by
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on January 28, 1965, and was inaugurated
on February 15, 1965, at an official ceremony held on Parliament Hill in
Ottawa in the presence of the Governor General, His Excellency General
the Right Honourable Georges P. Vanier, the Prime Minister, the members
of the Cabinet, and Canadian parliamentarians.
These words, spoken on that momentous day by the Honourable
Maurice Bourget, Speaker of the Senate, added deeper meaning to the
occasion: "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."