The Royal Union flag (Union Jack)

Union Jack Flag


The original Royal Union Flag, or Union Jack, was first raised in Canada at the British settlement in Newfoundland after 1610. Although the Red Ensign was widely used in Canada from the time of Confederation until the national flag was adopted in 1965, the Union Jack was the affirmed national symbol from 1904 and was the flag under which Canadian troops fought during the First World War. The Union Jack maintains its presence in Canada through its incorporation in the provincial flags of Ontario, Manitoba, and British Columbia.

When flown or displayed in Canada, the Union Jack serves two purposes. First, it is the national flag of the United Kingdom, and second, it is flown as a symbol of membership in the Commonwealth and allegiance to the Crown as approved by Parliament on December 18, 1964.

The order of precedence of the Union Jack in relation to provincial and territorial flags varies in accordance with the reason it is flown.

  • when representing the United Kingdom as a sovereign nation, the Union Jack takes precedence before the flag of a province or territory;
  • when representing Canada's membership in the Commonwealth or allegiance to the Crown, for example during a Royal Visit, the Union Jack is considered as a "symbolic flag" and as such is displayed after any other flag.

When the Union Jack is flown during a visit to Canada by a person representing the United Kingdom, the normal grouping of one Canadian flag and one Union Jack will be followed. On some occasions, it may be deemed necessary to add a provincial flag to the display. In this case the Union Jack will take precedence before the provincial flag as it represents the United Kingdom.

The Union Jack will, where physical arrangements allow, be flown along with the Canadian flag at federal buildings, airports, military bases, and other appropriate establishments within Canada, from sunrise to sunset, on the following occasions annually:

  • the date of the official observance of Her Majesty The Queen's Birthday, on Victoria Day, the Monday preceding May 25;
  • the anniversary of the proclamation of the Statute of Westminster (December 11);
  • the date of the official observance of Commonwealth Day (the second Monday in March).

Physical arrangements means the existence of at least two flag poles. The Canadian flag will always take precedence and will not be replaced by the Union Jack. Where only one pole exists, no steps shall be taken to erect an additional pole.

The Union Jack may be flown with the Canadian flag at the National War Memorial and at similarly appropriate locations in Canada in connection with ceremonies marking anniversaries of events in which Canadian forces participated with other Commonwealth forces.