Canadian Provincial Flags

Posted on October 12, 2021

There are a lot of amazing facts about Canada that most people don't know. For example, most know that Canada is large, but its actual size is mind-boggling in some respects.

If you walked Canada's coastline without stopping, it would take 4.5 years to cover 202,000 kilometres. That's almost four times bigger than the next biggest, Indonesia. And between the three oceans that surround Canada, there is so much more to learn.

Canadian provincial flags each tell a story of the country's unique history. So keep reading for more about Canada and a guide to understanding every province. Then, let's begin our journey in the West.

British Columbia Flag

This flag sits on a white background depicting the British Union Jack across the top third. There is a gold crown in the middle of the Union cross. Then, half the yellow setting sun covers blue and white stripes.

Flag Meaning

The Union Jack, of course, represents membership in the British Commonwealth. The blue and white stripes depict the vast Pacific Ocean. And the sun stays halfway in the frame for a sun that never sets.

Flag History

At one time, British Columbia was the furthest western point of the British Empire. The province was named in part for the Columbia River, and they adopted the flag in 1960. Britons have long believed the sun never sets on the British Empire, so thus the half sun.

Alberta Flag

Blue is the prominent colour on the Alberta provincial flag. Inside the blue, the Alberta crest shows the expanse of a wheat field to the Rocky Mountain foothills. The red and white St. George cross sits on top of the crest.

Flag Meaning

Wheatfields and green valleys of the crest display the province's agricultural heritage. They lead to the mountain range where Alberta meets neighbouring British Columbia.

The St. George cross is there to honour King George III of England. There has never been an explanation for the blue outer field of the flag. However, the blue and gold of the wheat are Alberta's official colours.

Flag History

The province joined Canada in 1905, and its coat of arms became Alberta's symbol two years later. However, it wasn't until 1968 when the flag was adopted to official status.

Saskatchewan Flag

The prairie province's flag consists of two main horizontal fields, green on top of yellow. At the upper left corner, a shield displays the traditional red lion in a yellow setting. Beneath the British symbol is three yellow wheat sheaths with a green background.

At the bottom right, the provincial red lily with a green stem straddles the two main fields. This flag's colours and simple design make it one of the most vibrant of all the flags.

Flag Meaning

Once again, the symbol of Britain, the red lion, take a role in Saskatchewan's flag. But, it is the colours that represent growth and farming in this province.

The red lily is symbolic of the unbridled nature in this second of two landlocked provinces, the other being Alberta next door.

Flag History

Also, a younger province, Saskatchewan, adopted its flag in 1969. It came from a design chosen from a contest. On another interesting note, in 2005, the province also recognized its French heritage.

A yellow flag with green cross accents a red Fleur de Lys in the lower right corner of the flag. They symbolize Saskatchewan's francophone population who were original pioneers. It fits then that the province's motto means, From Many People's Strength.

Manitoba Flag

Moving further east, the earlier history of Canada begins to take shape. Manitoba is one of the provinces that never redesigned its original flag. Instead, it has the classic red field with a Union Jack in the top left corner.

The Manitoba coat of arms takes up the right-center part of the flag. Again, the coat of arms has a British St. George's cross on top with an image of a buffalo below inside a field of green.

Flag Meaning

This flag owed much to the territory's history as a British colony in the 19th century. The buffalo inside the coat of arms symbolizes the region's native people. There was a brief period when officials removed the red ensign, but sentiment forced its return.

Flag History

The provincial shield of Manitoba first appeared in 1870 by order of the crown. When Canada hoisted the red maple leaf for the first time in 1965, the Manitoba Government stood fast. They insisted on maintaining the distinct British heritage of the flag.

Ontario Flag

The country's oldest province has a flag that is almost identical to Manitoba. The only difference is Ontario's coat of arms replaces its neighbour's. Again, this shield was born out of a political will to keep Ontario's British heritage alive on the flag.

Below the defaced red ensign, three gold maple leaves stand in a green field on a single stem. The green once again represents agriculture.

Flag Meaning

As the birthplace of confederation, Ontario's flag bears much of British ancestry. In 1867 when Canada became a nation, the Union Jack in the top corner was the symbol of Canada.

There have been other versions of the Ontario flag, but the theme of the Commonwealth remains.

Flag History

It was again in 1965 when the federal government adopted the maple leaf, Ontario opposed it. Premier Robarts at that time insisted on maintaining colonial roots.

Quebec Flag

As you might expect, French nationalism symbolizes the provincial flag. There is a prominent white cross on a field of blue. Four white fleurs de lys adorn the quadrant sections in blue.

Flag Meaning

At first, the Quebec flag seems not to emote symbolism, much like the Canadian maple leaf. But at a closer glance, the Quebec stamp is all over this flag. The white cross indicates a strong tie to the catholic church.

The fleur de lys is, of course, a national symbol for French-speaking people. Moreover, it evokes historical references to the Royalty of France in medieval times. And blue was also symbolic of the Virgin Mary, who wore a blue mantle.

Flag History

This was the first flag officially commissioned by a province of Canada. Dating back to 1948, a groundswell of sentiment began to promote French culture.

New Brunswick Flag

The largest of what Canada calls the maritime provinces is New Brunswick. Its provincial flag gets its design from a coat of arms from the Victorian era.
On the top third, a gold lion stretches across a red field. Below is a large ship with four ores dipped in a blue and white striped ocean.

Flag Meaning

The large ship that dominates the center of this flag pays tribute to its rich history of shipping. Shipbuilding and seamanship have always been vital symbols of New Brunswick.

The gold lion represents both Germanic and British heritage. The Duchy of Brunswick was held by King George III in 1794 when they created the original design.

Flag History

Shipbuilding and maritime industries are deep-rooted in New Brunswick traditions. An original province, New Brunswick created its flag in 1965 to coincide with Canada's new national symbol.

Under extreme pressure from the populace, Premier Maurice Duplessis raised the flag. The flag has since become a more prominent symbol of French Nationalism and independence.

Nova Scotia Flag

The flag of Nova Scotia gets design cues from the Cross of St. Andrew. As the name of the province suggests, Scottish heritage is a cornerstone of the region. The flag is an inverted version of the flag of Scotland, a blue cross on a white background.
At the apex of the cross sits the provincial coat of arms. The shield is a simple design of a standing red lion on a gold field with a red border.

Flag Meaning

Everything about Nova Scotia is an homage to most of its people's homeland. The provincial name is a literal translation, New Scotland. The Kingdom of Scotland founded Nova Scotia while ruled by the house of Stuart.

Flag History

The territory of New Scotland was founded in 1621. When Scots emigrated to the new world in the 19th century, they needed a symbol for a safe harbour. The reverse Scottish ensign gave travellers comfort they were coming to friendly territory.

Historians estimate the flag first flew during those emigrations in the 19th century. Nova Scotia adopted the flag in 1929 as the first sanctioned provincial flag by royalty.

Prince Edward Island Flag

Canada's tiniest province is also one of the original four with Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Ontario. The flag is a stretched version of its coat of arms. The stretched yellow lion appears again at the top on a field of red.

The rest of the flag has a white background. On a patch of green land in the center stands a tall oak tree. Then, to the left of the mature oak, there are three saplings. Framing the flag on three sides are alternating red and white bars.

Flag Meaning

Once again, England is a significant theme throughout the flag of Prince Edward Island. The yellow lion again represents King George III. The red and white bars are Canada's official colours.

The innovative section trees are the most interesting. The tall oak stands for mother England, while the saplings are the three counties of the province.

Flag History

The idea of the trees on a patch of land came from a badge created in 1874. A shield design in 1905 restyled the image of the trees and brought in the lion as the symbol of Britain.

A banner with this coat of arms from 1905 became the provincial flag. In 1981, the Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island approved the current flag.

Newfoundland and Labrador Flag

Last but not least, Newfoundland and Labrador is the newest province of the original ten. They joined the Dominion in 1949, but the flag came later. The flag design is a construct of triangles.

Four blue triangles sit to the left of the all-white background. Each triangle juxtaposes another to create a block. On the right, two red triangles pointing outward flank a gold trident. It also points in the same direction as the white triangles with red borders.

Flag Meaning

The modern graphic design of Newfoundland and Labrador's flag makes it most prominent. Looking at the flag from a distance, it appears as a stylized Union Jack. However, the colours give us the most meaning.

The blue, of course, represents the sea, and the white reminds us this is the frozen North. Red means human effort, and gold represents the hope and confidence for reward. The three symbols pointing in the same direction can also be interpreted as shared goals.

Flag History

Labrador was not considered part of the province until December 2001. So, the flag's creation in 1980 had more to do with the island part of the province. The official flag is a creation by a local artist, Christopher Pratt.

Still, his design symbolizes so much of what the rest of Canada aspires to become. It speaks of hope, prosperity, and unity from the nation's poorest province. So it's no wonder the flag gets flown all over the country.

More Canadian Provincial Flags

Canada's Northern territories have moved steps closer to becoming official provinces. But, there's still much to get done considering the vastness of the land. Yet, Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut are integral parts of Canada's future.

Each territory has its flag with symbolic meaning. Soon, the red Inukshuk of Nunavut will take its rightful place among Canadian provincial flags. Then, Yukon and Northwest Territories will follow close behind.

Canada needs to ensure their future. And to insure yours, give us a call at Insurdinary anytime.

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