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Canadian flag, Reid Scott proposal

Last modified: 2012-08-13 by rob raeside
Keywords: canada | canadian flag history | scott | reid scott |
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[Reid Scott proposal] image by A. Sedano, 3 July 2012


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[Reid Scott proposal]

Here is a picture of a flag I saw in Montreal. I hope you can see it's a so-called Scott flag, a proposal by Reid Scott for the new Canadian flag. I remember reading that this flag was quite popular and that about 200 of them were made. It seems that it still has its fans.
A. Sedano, 3 July 2012

I first learned about the Scott flag several years ago from a Government poster showing the historic and proposed flags of Canada. I remember reading that during the flag debates two gentlemen -one of them a graphic designer, I believe- visited Lester Pearson and showed him a design of a white pale with 3 maple leaves, representing the English, the French and the First Nations. Apparently, Mr Pearson was not very enthusiastic about the flag, so the designer unexpectedly produced a second flag, that incorporated Pearson's idea "from sea to sea", i.e., two blue bands. Pearson liked better the flag, which came to be known as the Pearson Pennant.  Later, at some time, the maple leaves were reduced to one, in which became known as the Scott Flag. (I think the name "Scott flag" came into use some time after the proposal was rejected.)

I received this from a friend of mine:
Interesting about Reid Scott, I remember him from the flag committee, but as I recalled Canadians were submitting flag design proposals for several weeks to the committee for their consideration. The flag known as Scott's flag was probably the design that he backed, but I had corresponded with an anglophone from Quebec City, actually Beauport, many years ago who originally submitted that design. I guess Scott will take credit as he was the one to back that design.

The white flag with three red maple leaves was shown in the Gov't poster as "Fortescue Duguid & John Matheson". I know that during the flag debates Col Duguid was adamant regarding the three maple leaves as a symbol of Canada. He wanted the national flag to convey the message "Canada".

A. Sedano, 4 July 2012

I have never seen this flag in use, although the photo (albeit a long distance one) seems to show it well. I find it odd that a Google search for "Scott's flag" turns up nothing. I also note that the official history ( http://www.pch.gc.ca/pgm/ceem-cced/etiqtt/index-eng.cfm#a2 ) of the flag reports:

"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- ys 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."
Rob Raeside, 25 July 2012

I found several materials about the Maple Leaf with blue borders (Scott's flag). It seems that it was the preferred design, at least among French Canadians. Here's what a friend of mine wrote:

In 1964, before the flag was adopted, the red and blue were not English and French colours being fought over. The language card only started playing in the late 1960s with the separatist movement. The red and blue on the national agenda represented the Liberals and the Tories, and they bickered constantly over which one was to prevail when they took their turns in power. The Liberals would tear out blue carpets and replace them with red and vice versa when the Tories were in power. Party politics.

.... back in 1964 I was in high school and as keen as everyone else to see our new national emblem. Pearson's Pennant, the 3 maple leafs (the English, French and Native people) with blue borders (Canada from sea to shining sea) was eventually replaced with one big red Maple Leaf but still with blue borders. This was the overall favourite of the Canadian people as polled by the media. Within 1 week of the final decision, the design was changed to 'red and white only' and we were sold the goods that we didn't want to be like the Americans, so everyone believed it, including myself, and our red and white Maple Leaf flag was born.

Concernign the book "I Stand for Canada"
[.]
As you are aware and have mentioned, there are a lot of stories and myths with regards to the creation of our National Emblem.

The book talks mostly about the 'behind the scenes' business by the flag committee but little from the other side of the fence, us Canadians who were very involved and anxious for our new flag. The co-author mentions how he was very impressed how our flag was created democratically and not through bloodshed as in some other countries, but if it were that democratic, we would have had full blue borders on our flag from the start, and the issue we are raising with the Unity flag, won't be a discussion at all. We will check if there are any archives from the now defunct Montreal Star, which was Montreal's major newspaper in the 60's. They followed the flag debates and showed the more popular designs on a large page to get people's opinions. The heavy favorite was the single large red maple leaf with Pearson's endeared blue borders representing Canada from sea to sea. This opinion was echoed across Canada.

Mr. Diefenbaker knew the public was behind it and still trying to derail the flag's creation, refused to accept blue on the flag hoping Mr. Pearson would back down. These are the words of Paul T. Hellyer, who was a Cabinet Minister in the Liberal government. Mr. Hellyer is not mentioned in your acknowledgements so it appears he had not been contacted during your research. Mr. Hellyer still has all his wits about him and has come out of retirement to fight the American takeover of Canada. He can be reached at www.canadianactionparty.ca, based in Toronto.

Of course the red and white flag suited Mr. Matheson very well since he never wanted Pearson's blue in the flag. You only mentioned the preferred flag of Canadians, "The Flag That Never Was", with full blue borders, very briefly as if it were never even a consideration. Our flag came about from bickering between politicians, those who wanted a new flag and those who didn't. So much for democracy, it wasn't the peoples' choice at the time.

So convinced were we Canadians that the flag with blue borders was to be our new flag that Ottawa businessman Herb Gosewich and a partner across the river in Aylmer, produced 200 of these new flags, only to be stuck with them when the Liberals shocked everyone and went with red and white only. He eventually sold them all, to Canadians who had their hearts set on the blue borders (the red and white was not accepted immediately). Your book does not mention these Canadian-made flags at all, yet it was a real occurrence, more significant than the one mentioned about the Japanese-made flags with the 13 point maple leaf.

A. Sedano, 26 July 2012