The real story behind the Canadian Flag

just another day of the office

Robert Levante is on his way to work you

might say he's got the top position on

Parliament Hill every working day it's

his job to change the maple leaf on top

of the peace tower it's a job the flag

master takes very seriously I'm really

doing it for the whole country so it's

really honoured but the whole country

wasn't exactly behind the new flag the

first time it was flown 50 years ago far

from it in fact you might say there was

more than a bit of a flag flap the

spring of 1964 with the old Red Ensign

still flying proudly Prime Minister

Lester Pearson stands before the

National Convention of the Legion and

Winnipeg to pitch his plan but it is

time now for Canadians in the course of

our national evolution to unfurl a flag

that is truly distinctive and truly

national in character

it didn't go well

but Pearson persisted after witnessing

Egypt resist Canadian peacekeepers

during the Suez Crisis years before for

wearing what they considered a British


he knew Canada needed its own symbol it

was really important to him to have a

flag something that was uniquely

Canadian historian and archivist Glenn

Wright says Pearson was in for the fight

of his political career opposition

leader diefenbaker let loose when a

prime minister

decides that he's going to trample on

the things of the Spirit then indeed

we've arrived at a position not in

keeping with the principles of democracy

we can live under the same flag we've

been living under ever since Canada

existed all summer there were protests

even reports of fistfights as Pearson

attempted to sell his idea for the new

flag his idea was three Maple Leafs

bordered in blue but it was going badly

by the fall even a parliamentary

committee struck to settle the matter

was deadlocked until the memo that

molded the maple leaf surfaced he could

take of one piece of chalk and he could

draw the map of Canada in one single

piece without lifting the chalk delos

Stanley is talking about her father

George Stanley was the Dean of Arts at

the Royal Military College in Kingston a

proud Canadian months before he had been

asked for his ideas about a new flag by

liberal MP John Matheson who was helping

Pearson the last thing John apparently

said to my dad was George when you have

a moment jot down your ideas and mostly

what he was looking for or sort of the

rules for heraldry for selecting flags

but George Stanley also like to think

with his pen and he drew his favorite

idea based in part on the college's flag

but with a single maple leaf in the

middle it was to become part of history

the parliamentary committee was showing

George Stanley's idea there was this

design that had been so

just at months before it broke down and

it broke the logjam the vote was

unanimous minor changes were made eleven

points instead of thirteen but thanks to

George Stanley the maple leaf was born

there it is a red maple leaf the

animosity on the other hand was far from

dead in high school della Stanley even

heard it from her teachers they would

say how could your dad give us that rag

of a flag and it looks like a beer label

and and so on and so forth and that was

tough he was threatened yes he received

this a letter telling him that because

he had assassinated the flag they would

assassinate him death row it was a death

threat and the police didn't really want

him to go to Ottawa and my father was

not one to back down and he knew it was

an important moment in history made to

stand in the back because his brightly

colored Hudson Bay jacket was a bit of a

target George Stanley absolutely

attended the kids had to stay home but

were hardly forgotten to mark the

occasion he got each one of us a gold

maple leaf now did you ever see the memo

no I have never ever seen the memo

would you like to I would love to it's

on top of my bucket list I think we can

do that this afternoon really you're

kidding really each time della Stanley

tried to see her father's famous memo

something happened and it looks like

it's happening again the memo was mixed

in with other papers locked deep in the

National Archives vault across the river

in Hall

there have been several attempts to

wheel out the right document all who

failed says volume 65 is that sound

right no okay why don't you do the

honors and then there it is there dear

there it is there it is yes let your dad

that's the letter that your father wrote

to John Matheson in the spring of 1964

his signature and the principles on

which he felt the flag should be based

easily recognizable use traditional

colors and traditional emblems serve as

a rallying symbol and hence to be a

unifying force that's what it is that's

what it has these orders this is


oh thank you so much

it's time for the flag master to do his


the flag flying over the peace tower is

now so popular the waiting list to

receive one is 48 years long almost as

long as the maple leaf is old look at


it's wonderful and every time della

Stanley sees it she smiles and thinks of

dad he must be pretty proud of dad yeah

I'm proud of my father

it flies beautifully happy 50 years

happy birthday may believe happy

birthday red Sheeran CBC News on

Parliament Hill in Ottawa