Sunday, 13 November 2011


Early on there were a number of images donated which showed cottages in the 1890-1910 period.  Many of them had flags on their porches, like this image of the Stewart-Wolff-Phipps cottage.

And then the Brown family shared this image of a flag that had flown from their boathouse.

Beyond knowing that it had flown at The Point nothing was known about the flag.  A little investigative work uncovered that it was known as the Seven Province Canadian Red Ensign.  It is an unusual version as the Seven Province shield is printed on a white rondel in the lower right field.  Normally is is simply the shield.  It turns out that it was the unofficial flag of Canada from 1873-1897.  Unofficially because the official flag of Canada was the Union Jack, but from 1868, the Canadian Red Ensign with was the flag of choice.

The Red Ensign officially was a marine flag that had been used by two of Canada’s earliest trans-continental businesses – the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company.  So its adaption

“Although the Union Flag was widely used and ardently supported, it was not distinctly Canadian. Indeed for many, the very lack of a distinctive Canadianness to the Union Flag was its appeal; for them it served to emphasize the degree to which Canada was immersed in the greater Empire. In the words of Joseph Pope, private secretary to, and biographer of, John A. Macdonald:

There is nothing that so imbues one with a sense of the power and greatness of the Empire to which we belong, and which makes us so realize the extent of our kinship throughout the world, as the Union Jack.

To which John S. Ewart, an ardently nationalist lawyer whose essays helped define the form of the Statute of Westminster, replied:

And if Canada be still a colony, it [the Union Flag] should still fly there. Canada is, however, very nearly free of its swaddling-clothes, and ... the flag that has been adopted is extremely appropriate to our equivocal situation, namely, the red ensign with the Union Jack in the corner-indicative of colonialism, and the Canadian coat-of-arms in the fly-indicative of individual existence.”
[Source: The Canadian Ensigns, ]

Dr Fraser in an e-mail noted that the Seven Province Canadian Red Ensign was "used enthusiastically, but the UK resisted authorizing them for use in other than a maritime capacity. Of course, that did allowed them to be used on boats in cottage country. But, even then, it was only the four-province version that was authorized for use on the water---not the one shown. So, everything was unofficial. “

Another version of the flag showed up in the picture of Sandy Flack's cottage on 5th Street.  The little girl sitting on the steps was Ida May Brown.

On the wall of the cottage appear two more pictures.  On the right, Dr. Fraser advised that the flag "has the composite badge used for Canada at the time on the lower fly and an image of Queen Victoria at the top. I have seen quite a few of these and almost always it was the five-province badge that was used despite the fact that the event being marked was the diamond anniversary in 1897."

Dr. Fraser has also suggested that the flag on the left was one used for the 1897 celebration of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.

I would like to thank Dr. Alistair Fraser for taking the time to look and comment on our flags and would like to recommend, if you are interested in reading further, his e-book The Flags of Canada  [] .

No comments:

Post a Comment