By Roger Currie
One week to go until Canada’s Maple Leaf flag is 50-years-old, and I’ve discovered more little known information about the pennant that first flapped above the Peace Tower on February 15, 1965.
Five times each week, a brand new flag is hoisted up the pole, and one of us might get to fly one of the old ones at the lake — if we’re still around about 40 years from now. In 1994, the Liberal government of Jean Chretien began giving Canadians a chance to get one of the Parliament Hill flags free of charge. We don’t even have to pay the postage.
Something like 8,000 flags have been sent out in that 20-year-period, but the waiting list to get one keeps getting longer. If you want one from the top of the East Block or the West Block, you’re looking at a wait of 31 years. If a Peace Tower flag is what you crave, the wait could be 42 years! Who knew?
Some people get to move to the head of the line, and not for happy reasons unfortunately. 160 of the Parliament Hill flags were draped over the caskets of the Canadians who died in Afghanistan. More recently, one was given to Marcus Cirillo, the five-year-old son of Corporal Nathan Cirillo. The Corporal was the reservist who died when he was shot in the back while standing guard at the National War Memorial on October 22.
If you go to Google and type in Maple Leaf flag, you’ll find further information, including detailed instructions on how to fly it. Seems it’s more difficult than you might think. I have only been on the Hill three times in my life. The last time — in July of 1997 — was one of the days when the red Maple Leaf above the Peace Tower was flying upside down. Oops !
Hey, nobody’s perfect.
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Roger Currie is a writer, storyteller, voice for hire, observer of life on the Canadian prairies, and can be heard on CJNU 93.7FM in Winnipeg.