Historical Flag Policy
Canada has a rich heritage of historical flags which are the expression of its evolution over the centuries to its present state as a sovereign democratic nation. When properly and appropriately displayed, these flags help to understand, appreciate and honour Canada’s history.
The Government of Canada is responsible for the policy governing the use of historical flags and for ensuring its proper application on all federal buildings and establishments in Canada and abroad. This policy may also be used as a guide by any Canadian citizen, organization and by other levels of government.
Historical Flags: For the purpose of this policy, historical flags are those which were used in the past by the Government of Canada or its colonial predecessors in New France and British North America to indicate jurisdiction, authority or ownership of property, or for use by armed forces on land, sea and air including those originating with metropolitan powers governing the colonies which eventually became Canada.
National Flag: is the Flag of Canada as approved by Parliament and proclaimed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, on February 15, 1965.
Site: is any building or establishment under Federal jurisdiction in Canada and abroad.
Public event: is any ceremony, event or special day organized or celebrated by the Federal Government or held on its Sites.
Primacy of the National Flag
Historical flags may be displayed in appropriate places in a way that always clearly gives primacy to the National Flag.
The National Flag will always be flown on its own pole and may never be replaced by an historical flag. When historical flags are flown, the National Flag will also be flown.
Historical flags will be flown lower than and away from the National Flag. The top edge of the historical flags should never be flown higher than the lower edge of the National Flag. The distance separating the two poles will vary depending on the site but must, as with the height, emphasize the primacy of the National Flag.Historical flags may be flown in a particular location provided that:
- historic research demonstrates that a flag of this design can be meaningfully associated with the location;
- there is sufficient evidence on the design of the historical flag that it can be reproduced accurately;
- there is an educational component available to the public (e.g. plaque, brochure, website) explaining the significance and rationale for its display;
- there is a separate pole for each flag, as dictated by flag protocol.
When flown or carried at public events, historical flags should be displayed according to the established order of precedence for flags as stated in the "National Flag of Canada Policy".
Responsibility and administration of the policy
The Minister responsible for the administration of this policy is the Minister of Canadian Heritage.
Any queries should be brought forward to the office at Canadian Heritage responsible for the application of this policy.
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