Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Flag Day

As I begin this post, it's still Feb. 15, so I can still say it's the 40th anniversary of the Canadian flag. (I seem to be marking a lot of anniversaries lately.)

I don't think much about the flag, really. Don't get all choked up and emotional when I see the huge banner flapping in the breeze above the Husky station just outside of London. And to tell the truth, I preferred one of the designs that didn't make it...the one with the three red maple leaves in the centre and the blue bars on each end...from sea to sea. To be completely accurate, though, you would have had to have a blue bar on the top as well...from sea to sea to sea. I was disappointed when that one wasn't chosen.

But after 40 years, I've grown accustomed to the flag's face. I like it well enough. And it has one outstanding characteristic: its simplicity and its boldness. It has two outstanding characteristics: its simplicity, its boldness, and its visibility...It has three outstanding...never mind.

I don't understand what the two red bars represent. Is it the two founding nations, English and French? If so, it should be one blue bar and one red. But that would disturb the symmetry of the flag, and I love symmetry unless I'm on an angular binge.

The design is so clean and uncluttered. The maple leaf, as it's presented, is immediately recognizable. It's a perfect icon. How could you improve on it? It's the heart of simplicity. (Although after all these years, I couldn't draw it if my life depended on it. Believe me, I've tried.)

Minor digression: This reminds me of a story. Years ago the band bought new lederhosen. We wanted to get fancy wide belts to go with them, and since at the time we were emphasizing our Canadian identity, we decided to have the red maple leaf embroidered into the centre of the belts. Unfortunately, Andy, the man who made both the lederhosen and the belts, couldn't draw the maple leaf either, and we ended up with six belts sporting large red marijuana leaves.

Anyway, I wouldn't change the flag. As I say, you couldn't improve on that icon. Like the province of Ontario considering "updating" its trillium logo. That I'll have to see. Again, it's a case of trying to change something that is already, to my eyes, reduced to its simplest iconic form. That trillium has worked for 30 years or so. If it ain't broke....

And one last thought about this. It seems to me that Feb. 15, Flag Day, would be the perfect midwinter statutory holiday. After all, it's the day after Valentine's Day. A perfect day to allow all those people suffering from love hangovers a little recovery time.

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