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Flags of the Canadian Forces (Canada)

Last modified: 2017-11-11 by rob raeside
Keywords: canada | rank flag | maple leaf | leaf: maple |
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I took the opportunity of the International Congress of Vexillology in Victoria to visit the Canadian Forces Base at Esquimalt, HQ of the Canadian Maritime Pacific Fleet. I spent a morning with the Commodore's flag lieutenant going over the current flags of the Canadian Forces so that I could update BR20, which is also the Canadian Forces flag book.

The main flag staff at Esquimalt flies the following flags:

At the masthead is the flag of the Rear Admiral in command of the Pacific Maritime Forces or the Fleet Commander flag of the Commodore in command of the Pacific Fleet if the admiral is absent. Both of these are the white style rank flags (see later).

At the gaff is the Canadian national flag. With the gaff pointing towards the viewer the Canadian Forces Ensign is at the yard end to the right. The Canadian Air Force Flag is at mid yard on the left (the base has an Air Force contingent), and the Canadian Naval Flag is at the yard end on the left.
Graham Bartram, 14 August 1999


Canadian Forces Ensign

[Canadian Forces Ensign] image by Graham Bartram

Canadian Forces (CF) Ensign. This is flown at CF Bases and is used in a miniature form as the rank flag of the Chief of the Defence Staff. The flag is also displayed inside the MARPAC (Maritime Pacific) Command building. The flag is 1:2, white with the Canadian flag in the canton (quarter of the area) and the CF badge centred in the fly.
Graham Bartram, 14 August 1999


Canadian Mobile Forces (i.e. the Army) Camp Flag. This is a fairly recent change with a new badge in the fly. The new badge comprises crossed swords (with the same hilts as the CF badge) superimposed by a red maple leaf (a natural design with gold veins rather than the stylized national emblem). The flag is 1:2, white with the Canadian flag in the canton (quarter of the area) and the army badge centred in the fly.
Graham Bartram, 14 August 1999

See: Canada, army flags


Canadian Air Forces Ensign. This flag is another example of the gradually reversion to pre-unification symbols that is at work in the Canadian Forces. The unification of all three forces was not well received and the enforced new symbols are gradually being replaced by more traditional ones, as are the names ("Royal" is making a comeback). The flag is exactly the same as the RAF ensign, but with the Canadian flag in the canton and the central red dot replaced with the standard maple leaf.
Graham Bartram, 14 August 1999

See: Canada, Air Forces Ensign


Rank Flags - as mentioned above there are two distinct styles of rank flags. The official ones are white with the national flag in the canton mainly with various designs of swallow-tail. These flags are all 4:7 but the national flag is smaller in the Rear Admiral's and Commodore's flags (the existing FOTW images have the national flag as one-quarter area which is too large). These flags also form the basis of the Canadian post flags, with the badge of the branch or unit commanded by the flag officer placed in the fly. The exception is the flag of the two fleet commanders (see later).

The second type are 2:3, royal blue with the appropriate number of gold maple leafs for the officer's star ranking. The white versions are used by the Maritime Pacific fleet, while the Maritime Atlantic fleet use the royal blue ones. The first time a flag officer from the Atlantic fleet visited the Pacific fleet after the adoption of these new flags it caused quite a bit of consternation.
Graham Bartram, 14 August 1999

See: Canada, naval rank flags

Detail of badge

[Canadian Forces Ensign] image by Graham Bartram


Canadian Forces flag: Admiral, Vice Admiral, General, Lt. General

[Admiral, Vice Admiral, General and Lt General Rank flag] image by Graham Bartram

Admiral, Vice Admiral, General and Lt. General. The flag is 4:7 with the national flag in the canton. The canton is half the length of the flag, making it slightly less than half its width.
Graham Bartram, 14 August 1999


Canadian Forces flag: Rear Admiral, Major General

[Rear Admiral and Major General rank flag] image by Graham Bartram

Rear Admiral and Major General. The flag is 4:7, white with a shallow swallowtail. The national flag in the canton is half the length of the flag minus the swallow tail and so is smaller than that on the admiral's flag.
Graham Bartram, 14 August 1999


Canadian Forces flag: Commodore, Brigadier General

[Commodore and Brigidier General rank flag] image by Graham Bartram

Commodore and Brigadier General. The flag is 4:7, white with a deeper swallowtail than the Rear Admiral's. The lower edge rises diagonally to meet the swallowtail. The centre point of the swallowtail aligns with the bottom edge of the national flag in the canton, which is the same size as that in the Rear Admiral's flag.
Graham Bartram, 14 August 1999


Command Appointment Flag

[Command appointment flag] image by Graham Bartram

This is the flag of a Captain (Naval), Commander, Lt. Commander, Colonel, Lt. Colonel or Major who holds a command appointment. The flag is a white triangular 4:7 pennant with a red maple leaf emblem in the centre.
Graham Bartram, 14 August 1999