The long and proud history of our Canadian flag
By Mike Rainone for the News
The proud and exciting theme of the 79th annual Ponoka Stampede from June 24 to July 1 is a salute to the 50th anniversary of our Canadian flag. There is no doubt that our friendly community will come alive in the blazing and patriotic colors of red and white, with many special events planned for the celebrations, up at the grounds, during the gala 3-mile long parade (Friday-June 26) and in and around our Town and County.
A brief history of the Canadian flag
Over the years, many different flags were created for use by Canadian officials, government bodies, and military forces for proud display in land, seas and skies on countless occasions throughout our great nation and around the world. Each of these flags have contained the Maple Leaf motif in some fashion, and have been flown, paraded, and celebrated since the 17th century, and then was officially declared as a national symbol in 1868.
The Maple Leaf was added to the Canadian Coat of Arms in 1921, the same year that King George V made red and white the official colors of Canada. The Canadian Red Ensign Flag flew from 1922 to 1957, but along the way there would be a great many efforts, lots of discussion and some controversy trying to reach a decision on a permanent flag for the Dominion of Canada. The search for a new Canadian flag started in earnest in 1925 when a committee of the Privy Council began to research possible designs for a national flag; however the work was never completed.
After the Second World War, in 1946, a special joint committee recommended that submissions be taken for a new Canadian flag design and received more than 2600 entries, but still, the Parliament of Canada was never called upon to formally vote on the issue. In October 1964 with the Canadian Centennial celebration only three years away, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson informed the House of Commons that the government wished to adopt a distinctive Canadian Flag, and once again another Commons Committee was formed and submissions were called. In October 1964, after much debate and elimination, the committee was left with three possible designs. Finally the House of Commons Committee decided to recommend the single-Maple Leaf design, which had been created by George F.C. Stanley, and which was approved by both the House and Senate on December 15 and 17 1964. The vivid new Canadian flag was proclaimed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, and would officially take effect on February 15, 1965 at a colorful ceremony in Ottawa with thousands of proud Canadians looking on. This vital milestone of our colorful history will fly forever for Canada, and most significantly, at war memorials and cenotaphs throughout our nation, unveiled each and every day in honour and respect of our brave Canadian soldiers who have dedicated their lives for countless decades in the service of their country.
Ponoka Stampede honours soldiers and veterans on Canada Day
In 1981, Ponoka Stampede Association life member and highly respected local businessman, sportsman, and community supporter Ralph Vold introduced a program to honour our veterans and individuals serving in our Canadian forces at home and overseas in corridors of war and peacekeeping. For the past 35 presentations of the Ponoka Stampede, four recipients have been chosen to receive honorary lifetime memberships to the annual July long weekend event. Over 150 veterans and local military personnel have received this coveted award over the years, and the presentations are now made at the July 1 Canada Day 1 p.m. rodeo performance, with the 2015 recipients escorted into the infield by the Legion Color Party and PSA officials.
Creating a ‘Human Canadian Flag’.
Volunteers and participants from near and far are invited to attend a real fun family event on Canada Day, July 1 at 1 p.m. at Klaglahachie Square between the Ponoka United Church (5020-52 Avenue) and the Ponoka Post Office. The Klaglahachie Fine Arts Society and Tim Horton’s will be hosting a Children’s Festival to celebrate Canada Day, and also the Town of Ponoka Community Services will hopefully get an excited bunch of several hundred participants involved in attempting to form a ‘human Canadian Flag’ at the same location. Also included in the Klaglahachie funfest will be entertainment, games, a bouncy castle, a balloon artist and face painter and much more until 5 p.m. The event finale will start at 7:30 p.m. in the evening, weather permitting, with the Band Slough Water hosting a concert on the big stage in the Ponoka Lion’s Centennial Park, with visitors of all ages getting a chance to sing, swing, and sway to their favourite musical renditions of old time country and rock and roll.
Those wishing to take part in the fun are asked to come down to the church around 12 noon to register, and please wear the colors of red and white to salute our flag. Wes Amendt, Director of Community Services for the Town of Ponoka explained that the Guinness Book record for the human flag formation in towns is currently 4800, so who knows what might happen in our enthusiastic community? For those who wish to volunteer or want more information on this gala family event please contact him at 403-783-0118 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bring on the red and white.
As we gather together to enjoy our annual Ponoka Stampede, and welcome many thousands of visitors to our community for the occasion, let’s make every effort, especially on Canada Day July 1 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our flashy Canadian flag. Whether it be waving one of those little hand flags, proudly flying them in the back yard, at the rodeo, in the parade, on the car, at the store or wherever, let’s make it a sea of color in honour of our great and free nation, while proudly singing our national anthem and celebrating the Maple Leaf forever, from sea to shining sea..