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Canadian Service Flag

Last modified: 2018-02-10 by rob raeside
Keywords: canadian service flag | maple leaf |
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[Canadian Service Flag] image contributed by Albert S. Kirsch
Source: Flagscan

See also:

In the latest issue of Flagscan, page 16, is shown a Canadian service flag exactly modeled on (or is it the reverse?) the US service flag, right down to the colors: a blue maple leaf on a white field within a wide red border. The drawing dates from World War I.

Is it still in use, as the US version is? If not, when did it die out? Does/did it have a gold leaf for a soldier killed in action?
Albert S. Kirsch, 31 January 2006

Al asked if the leaf on the Canadian Service flag displayed a gold leaf if a soldier was killed as in the USA Service Flag. The answer is contained in the ad from which the colorized illustration was taken, unfortunately the text was deleted. It states the leaf was red for those who have fallen.
Dave Martucci, 19 July 2009

Variants of the flag

[Canadian Service Flag]  [Canadian Service Flag] images by Eugene Ipavec, 19 July 2009

[Canadian Service Flag]  [Canadian Service Flag] images by Eugene Ipavec, 19 July 2009

The illustration referenced above shows the flag in two sizes, ~2:3 and ~3:5/4:7, the latter with a thinner border and larger leaf, probably just artistic randomness.
Eugene Ipavec, 19 July 2009

[Canadian Service Flag] image by Dave Fowler, 2 January 2018

​I photographed this World War One-era service flag, for a family with four sons serving, at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, in September 2017.
Dave Fowler, 2 January 2018

Here's also a three maple-leaf specimen: Picture caption reads: "[Canadian Service Flag], 1917. Collections CCGW (Canadian Centre for the Great War/)/CCGG (Centre Canadien de la Grande Guerre) (official website: 2014.01.24.01"

"Like the Service on the Front pins, which identified those who had served in the CEF (Canadian Expeditionary Force/Corps Expéditionnaire Canadien) while in plain clothes, the women of Canada also devised their own ways to recognize their service and those of their families. The flag shown above, a Canadian Service Flag, was modeled on the American “service at the front” flag, which was made available for the first time in 1917 when the United States entered the war.

The responsibility of the Women’s War Committee in Ottawa, the Canadian version first appeared in 1917, and was to be hung in the front window of any family that had members serving on the front. The green maple leaves shown here mean that this household had three family members serving, all of whom were still alive. A red maple leaf meant that a member of the family had died in service.

An editorial in the Toronto Star dated April 17, 1918 notes that “these little flags will be mute, but eloquent evidence of the fact that we are one people, and that far more home in Toronto are sharing the hopes and anxieties of the war than anyone had supposed”.

As we can see, the flag was seen as a way to bind people together, and to draw attention to the contribution of specific families to the war effort. However, it also speaks of the community left behind by those who went to Europe to serve, who had no other way to acknowledge their own contribution (because surely sending your family members to war is also a contribution) other than this little flag."

Important to notice is that the CEF fought under the "Canadian Red Ensign 1868-1921" (
Esteban Rivera, 3 January 2018