George F. G. Stanley, dean of arts at the Royal Military College of Canada, grew up in Calgary, and spent summers in Banff. His father built the house that is now Laurier Lounge, a French restaurant, and the family moved there in 1908.
Stanley's simple flag design was chosen by a Parliamentary committee struck in the fall of 1963 to settle the flag debate that had grown in the nearly 100 years since Confederation.
The committee, composed of fifteen members of Parliament, spent six weeks in the fall of 1963 reviewing nearly 2,000 designs and listening to hours of advice from heraldic and historical experts. Children, families, businesses and organizations and artists such as the Group of Seven’s A.Y. Jackson, sent in sketches, paintings, collages and photograph. It was Stanley’s simple design that won the vote.
Experts then perfected the design — the red borders widened, and the points on the maple leaf reduced from 23 (typical for a sugar maple leaf) to only 11. Why? The National Research Laboratory tested the flag in their wind tunnel to see how it would look when it blew in the wind. As the wind speed increased, the original design was hard to see because the points on the leaf appeared to multiply. The revised eleven-point leaf looks like real maple leaf when tossed in windy weather.
The new flag was unfurled on Parliament Hill on February 15, 1965. George Stanley was one of 15,000 Canadians who watched the Canadian Red Ensign flag lower, and new National Flag of Canada rise. He was clad in a colourful Hudson’s Bay blanket coat, amidst a sea of black coats — bright and bold like the flag he inspired.
Want to learn more?
Read The Story of Canada's Flag by George F. G. Stanley, Our Flag, The Story of Canada's Maple Leaf by Ann-Maureen Owens, and Jane Yealland and Creator of Canada's maple leaf flag was proud of his Calgary roots by the Calgary Herald.