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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

February 15, 1965

This week in the Wayback Wednesday post, I thought that I would choose a topic that is very close to my heart.  And the accent colour that I have chosen is your clue for this post.  And no, it's not Valentine's Day related.  That was yesterday.

I'll leave you to ponder that as we take a look at some of the other events that happened on February 15th.

1493 - Christopher Columbus pens an open letter describing his experiences in the New World

1764 - St. Louis, Missouri is established (then called Spanish Louisiana)

1804 - The Serbian Revolution begins

1862 - General Ulysses S. Grant attacks Fort Donelson, Tennessee during the American Civil War

1879 - President Rutherford B. Hayes signs a bill that would allow female attorneys to argue cases before the Supreme Court of the United States

1898 - The United States declares war on Spain following the explosion of the battleship USS Maine near Havana, Cuba

1907 - Actor Cesar Romero (d. 1994) is born in New York City

1909 - 250 perish in the Flores Theatre Fire in Acapulco, Mexico

1927 - Actor/comedian Harvey Korman (d. 2008) is born in Chicago, Illinois

1928 - Author of the Clifford the Big Red Dog series, Norman Bridwell (d. 2014) is born in Kokomo, Indiana

1933 - Giuseppe Zangara attempts to assassinate Franklin D. Roosevelt in Miami, but instead shoots Anton J. Cermak, then the mayor of Chicago

1942 - The Fall of Singapore takes place during World War II

1952 - King George VI is buried in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle

1964 - Actor/comedian Chris Farley (d. 1997) is born in Madison, Wisconsin

1965 - Singer Nat King Cole dies at the age of 45

1971 - Britain completes the decimalisation of its coinage

1972 - Sound recordings are granted U.S. federal copyright protection for the first time

1982 - Eighty-four workers lose their lives off the coast of Newfoundland when a severe storm sinks the "Oceam Ranger", a drilling rig

1984 - Actress/singer Ethel Merman passes away at age 76

1992 - Jeffrey Dahmer is sentenced to life in prison for the serial murders of seventeen men and boys between 1978 and 1991

1996 - Actor McLean Stevenson dies at the age of 68

2003 - At least eight million people in six hundred cities all over the world protest against the Iraq War

2007 - Voice actor Walter Edmiston dies at the age of 82

2013 - Russian citizens get a shock when a meteor explodes above them, injuring 1,500 people and shattering windows in buildings near the area

2016 - Canadian-American singer Vanity dies at the age of 57; Actor George Gaynes dies at the age of 98

And blowing out candles on their cake today are the following famous faces; Frank Dunlop, Claire Bloom, Brian Holland, John Helliwell, Marisa Berenson, Art Spiegelman, Melissa Manchester, Jane Seymour, Matt Groening, Janice Dickinson, Christopher McDonald, Ali Campbell, Martin Rowson, Jane Child, Craig Simpson, Birdman, Alex Borstein, Renee O'Connor, Miranda July, Conor Oberst, Ashley Cafagna-Tesoro, Amber Riley, and Zachary Gordon.

Okay, so you know that today's topic has to do with the colour red. 

And now you know the date that today's Wayback Machine is sent back to...February 15, 1965 - the same day that Nat King Cole died.  While Nat King Cole was a wonderful singer and entertainer, alas, he is not the subject for today's piece.

Though, you know the first clue is that it's partly red.  And your next clue is that it is entirely Canadian made.  Which definitely makes this Canadian born blogger stand on guard for thee in pride. 

And why shouldn't I feel proud of my country?  This July, Canada marks its 150th birthday!  One hundred and fifty years of endless winters, maple syrup, poutines, and hockey games. 

Of course, no Canadian celebration would be complete without the appearance of the banner that many Canadians look at with pride.

A banner that was first introduced on this date in history fifty-two years ago.

A banner that has a distinctive symbol smack dab in the middle of the flag that is quite unique to Canada.

Ladies and gentlemen...I present to you the Canadian flag.  Hard to believe that in a country that was born one hundred and fifty years ago, our flag is only a third of the age of the country.

But it's true.  Prior to 1965, the Canadian flag looked something like this.

The flag above is known as the Canadian Red Ensign.  First used in the 1890s, the Red Ensign was flown in places "wherever place or occasion may make it desirable to fly a Canadian flag". 

And of course, prior to 1965, the Union Jack was flown prominently, as Canada and Great Britain have such tight bonds with each other (which explains why we have so much delicious British chocolate here).

But, in 1964, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson was frustrated with the fact that Canada did not have its own independent flag even though it had been established as an independent nation back on July 1, 1867.  He formed a committee to create a new flag independent to Canadians, and thus the Great Flag Debate was born.  Pearson wanted the flag to be changed, while former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker did not.

Pearson recruited the help of lawyer John Ross Matheson to begin researching the steps needed for Canada to adopt a new flag design, and he knew that he had a challenge ahead of him.  While many English speaking Canadians loved the use of the Red Ensign flag, French speaking Canadians in Quebec and New Brunswick weren't enamored with the Red Ensign.  In 1964, Pearson brought forth his own design for the new flag, which some dubbed the "Pearson Pennant".

As you can see, there were some similarities to the current design, except there were blue stripes instead of red, and the maple leaf design was more of a cluster than a single red maple leaf.  Not a bad design, but certainly not one that I would have voted for.

Ultimately, put to a vote by an all-party committee (consisting of seven Liberals, five Conservatives, one NDP, one Social Crediter, and one Creditiste, the design chosen was created by George Stanley - who based his design on the flag of Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario (seen above).

Long story short, the new flag design was passed in early 1965, Queen Elizabeth II proclaimed the new flag in January 1965, and on February 15, 1965, the flag that Canadians have adopted as its own was inaugurated at a ceremony at Ottawa's Parliament Hill - just in time for Canada's centennial two years later.

And I am sure that the flag will be flown at every opportunity a few months from now when Canada celebrates its 150th birthday.  

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