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Canada - history of the flag (1870-1873)

Last modified: 2013-06-29 by rob raeside
Keywords: canada | red ensign: canada | history: red ensign: canada |
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Unofficial flag, 1870-1873
[Canada - 1870 (unofficial)] image by Herman De Wael, 21 October 1998

See also:

The Red Ensign

Chronology of the Canadian Blue and Red Ensigns

original text by Dean Tiegs - 21 December 1997, additions inserted at appropriate places.

Some information from "The Flags of Canada - chapter IV - the Canadian Ensigns" by Alistair B. Fraser.

15 July 1870

Transfer of Rupert's Land and the North-Western Territory (uniting as the North-West Territories) to Canada and the creation of Manitoba from part of Rupert's Land.
Dean Tiegs, 21 December 1997

02 August 1870

The design of Manitoba's seal finalized: similar to the present arms, but without the rock, with a crown on the cross, and with the buffalo portrayed charging. The Manitoba symbol (and those of the later provinces) was never officially added to the Great Seal. However, this made little difference, since the Red Ensign was an unofficial flag anyway. Most flag makers usually added the symbol to the Blue and Red Ensigns. Until 1922, there were many variations in displaying the shield on the flag: sometimes a white disk was behind the shield, sometimes there was wreath of maple leaves or a wreath of roses, thistles, and shamrocks, and sometimes the shield was topped by a beaver or crown.
Dean Tiegs, 21 December 1997

There is some discussion on the design of the badge for Manitoba.

I was able to buy two old Canadian Red Ensigns from an antique dealer a few weeks back. The second one has five crests under a crown and surrounded by two branches of different plants :

  • top row: Ontario and I think Saskatchewan (green wheat over gold lion on red over three green leaves)
  • bottom row: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and a wild bison for Manitoba I guess.

Don Wheeler, 15 February 1998

The second quarter is probably intended to be Quebec, but it should have two blue fleurs-de-lis, not green wheat sheaves. The flag would date from the early 1870s.
Dean Tiegs, 15 February 1998

history continues