Today, July 1st, is Canada’s National Holiday. Without a doubt, for the occasion, we are going to see our cities well adorned with our Maple Leaf flag.
While searching the literature to document this blog, I realized how important the maple leaf had been for French-speaking canadians. This sense of belonging surrounding our national symbol very likely dates back to 1834, when Ludger Duvernay founded the Société Saint Jean Baptiste. Undoubtedly, if this emblem was spread massively throughout the 1830’s, it is owed mainly to this nationalistic organization which saw to its visibility, and final adoption, as a national symbol.
The Maple Leaf was even embraced as a symbol by the Patriots of 1837! Since it had started to significantly bring French-Canadians together as a nation, it was only fitting to see it being hailed wholeheartedly by the Patriots. The Maple Leaf then started to appear on their flags (case in point, the banner of the Patriots from Saint Eustache). Furthermore, the Patriots encouraged people from Lower Canada to wear it and display it proudly.
Unfortunately, the tragic circumstances surrounding the up-rising by the Patriots in 1837-1838 tarnished the rallying-power of the Maple Leaf. The craze for the Maple Leaf having greatly diminished, for French Canadians, it was time to relinquish that symbol to the bottom drawer; yet its memory remained as part of the national treasure.
For the co-signees of the Constitution of 1867, the British North America Act, which created the Dominion of Canada from three separate provinces (the Union of Canada, comprised of Lower-Canada (Québec) and Upper-Canada (Ontario), Nova-Scotia and New-Brunswick) the Maple Leaf represented a symbol around which they could rally. Geographically, the population of sugar maple of the country is distributed mainly across Southern-Ontario (some), Southern-Québec (a lot) and a few scattered across Nova-Scotia and New-Brunswick.
The Maple Leaf can also be found on Québec’s and Ontario’s coat or arms.
Finally, it is only on February 15, 1965, that the red Maple Leaf, inside a white square, and bordered vertically by two red rectangles, was adopted officially as the national flag of Canada.
In spite of the fact that Québec (Lower-Canada) was a free and willing co-signee of the 1867 Constitution, several nationalist and separatist elements from Québec hold the loss of the Maple Leaf, a dear and important « national » symbol, against English Canada.
How about that! The Maple Leaf on the Canadian flag is from… Québec!