Flag Songs | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Flag Songs

Flag songs.

The flags of Canada have been the Union Jack (1801) (common to all British colonies); the Red Ensign (adopted by Canadian ships in 1892 and used abroad after 1923 and domestically after 1945), featuring the Union Jack and the arms of Canada on a red background; and the red and white maple leaf flag adopted 15 Feb 1965. Canada is not known to have had a distinct flag under the French régime. The provinces have individual flags, most of them adopted after 1960.

Of over 40 flag songs known to have been written in Canada, C.W. Sabatier's'Le Drapeau de Carillon,' published in 1860, is the oldest found. Alexander Muir celebrated 'The Old Union Jack,' while J.D. Kerrison prophesied 'The Flag That Bears the Maple Leaf' as early as 1889, and Alexis Contant 'Le Drapeau fleurdelisé' (with words by François Lapointe) in 1905. The South African (Boer) War and World War I produced spates of flag songs, among them Charles F. Harrison's 'The Best Old Flag on Earth' (1914); Gordon V. Thompson's 'Heroes of the Flag' (1917) and 'For the Glory of the Grand Old Flag' (1918); and, probably the best-known, Michael F. Kelly's 'We'll Never Let the Old Flag Fall' (1915). Later examples are fewer, but Hector Gratton's 'Le Croix et le drapeau' (Archambault ca 1940), for choir, may be mentioned, as well as Freddy Grant's "Flag of Canada" (1965). A 1995 song, "Our Great Canadian Flag" (lyrics Marjorie Ranger; music James and Ron Resmer), has been sung in schools for Flag Day.

Flags decorate many Canadian sheet music covers.

See also "Maple Leaf For Ever"; Patriotic Songs.

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