National Flag of Canada Day is celebrated every year on February 15. It marks the first time the red-and-white flag featuring the iconic maple leaf was raised on Parliament Hill. The Maple Leaf flag that we know and recognize today was first raised 57 years ago on February 15, 1965.
In 1964, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson wanted a new flag to represent Canada. After a parliamentary committee narrowed it down to three possibilities, someone needed to take the three designs, sew them, and bring them to life. Joan O'Malley was given this job.
Alison Donovan, ESL Library’s very own Publishing Assistant, is related to Joan. We were lucky to chat with Alison and ask her a few questions about this amazing story.
MELISSA: How are you related to Joan O'Malley?
ALISON: Joan is my husband’s aunt, and she’s a very cool lady.
MELISSA: Why was Joan asked to sew the Canadian flag?
ALISON: Her father worked for the federal government and was part of the team that developed the prototypes for the flag. They needed someone to quickly sew the proposed designs on a Friday night, so he asked his daughter to do it.
MELISSA: A few years ago, Joan was officially thanked for her work. What was it like when she was recognized for this 50 years later?
ALISON: Everyone was very proud and excited to see Joan acknowledged for her part in making the Canadian flag. This is an important part of Canadian history and it’s wonderful to see Joan recognized for her role. It’s pretty amazing to know the woman who was involved in creating the Maple Leaf flag!
Student Activity: Design Your Own Flag
Feeling inspired? We want to see your flag designs!
Teachers, ask your students to design a flag that represents the class. They can draw, sketch, paint, or design it digitally. Then, ask them to describe the flag they designed. Students can write about it, discuss it with a partner, present it to the class, or record themselves talking about it.
Afterwards, send us a picture of the flags your students designed to firstname.lastname@example.org, so we can feature them on our blog! You can also send us your students’ descriptions of their designs, whether they recorded them or wrote about them.
It's time to get creative and have fun! We can’t wait to see what your students come up with.