This Canada Day marks the 50th anniversary of the Maple Leaf as the nation’s flag.
Did you know, though, that the Maple Leaf has been this country’s only flag that it can call its own?
According to Canadian Heritage, a federal department, Canada’s only other official flag has been the Union Jack, also known as the Royal Union flag, since confederation in 1867.
While variations of what was known as the red ensign, a flag that resembles today’s provincial flags of Manitoba or Ontario, were used from 1871, through both world wars, and until 1965, the ensign never was Canada’s official flag.
Just as well, because people today don’t recognize the ensign, even though it was just as common as the Union Jack before the Maple Leaf became our flag in 1965.
Canadian Heritage says that the federal government twice tried to create a uniquely Canadian flag, first, after the First World War, then again after the Second World War, without success. Consensus just couldn’t be reached.
But with Canada’s centennial birthday approaching, the government restarted the process again in 1964. After agonizing over dozens of different designs, a parliamentary committee composed of all parties agreed on the single, recognizable, red maple leaf on a white background.
Parliament approved the Maple Leaf as the National Flag of Canada in December 1964 and it was first flown from Parliament Hill in February 1965.
To celebrate, the City of Maple Ridge is having a huge community art project in Memorial Peace Park on Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Everyone is invited to draw a picture of the flag or bring a photo of you or your family and friends with the flag or wearing a Canadian jersey. You could also write a few lines to show appreciation and add it to the art project.
To add to the spirit, people are encouraged to dress in red and white. The city’s volunteers will be looking for the best-dressed citizens and awarding prizes.
Live music starts at 10 a.m. with bands such as The Crayons, The Road Dogs and The Johnson Brothers.
The official flag raising and ceremony happens at 12:30 p.m. and features a march-in by the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 88 and members of the Ridge Meadows RCMP. That’s when people are asked to sing O Canada.
The day will also feature a giant activity area with mini-golf, balloon twisting, face painting, crafts, mascots, prize giveaways, a trivia challenge, hydration station (bring your own cup or water bottle) and a multicultural food fair.
Anchoring the west side of the park will be the Haney Farmers Market, featuring local farmers, chefs and artists.
The Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association will host a summer market. Vendors will be wearing ethnic clothing, while the BIA booth will follow a Dutch theme.
A free craft section for the kids will also be there.
• Anyone who grabs a photo of their experience at any one of the BIA’s Summer Markets, could win a $25 gift card to a downtown store/restaurant. Post your picture to Instagram or Facebook, using #shopmapleridge and #summermarkets.
• For more information about Canada Day, contact Dave Speers at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 604-467-7433, Ext 1.
Fund Run in Pitt Meadows
In Pitt Meadows, Canada Day festivities take place in Spirit Square from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on July 1, highlighted by an annual Canada Day Charity run, musical entertainment and children’s activities and games.
The action gets under way at 8 a.m., when the local Lion’s Club hosts a pancake breakfast at Spirit Square, located on Harris Road, beside city hall.
This Canada Day also marks the 10 year anniversary of the Athletes in Kind charity run. The annual run raises money for the B.C. Childhood Cancer Parents Association. Since its inception in 2005, the Fund Run has raised more than $170,000. The one- and two-kilometre portions of the race start at 8:30 a.m., followed by the eight km run at 9 a.m.
There will be AiK custom medals for finishers in every distance, age group awards, prize draws and race socks and bandanas for sale. The proceeds of the sales are matched by Scotiabank.
The annual Jan Saunders Memorial Award will also be presented on race day. It is Athletes In Kind’s most prestigious award, recognizing an individual’s outstanding contribution from categories such as volunteerism, fundraising and mentorship.
The official Canada Day ceremony takes place at 11 a.m. and will feature free birthday cake.
Anyone with room left after cake can enter the watermelon eating contest at 12:30 p.m.
Other activities include live music, Click and Clown and children’s activities before wrapping up at 2 p.m.