The National Flag of Canada was approved by Parliament in 1964. Ratified by a royal proclamation from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on January 28, 1965, it was hoisted for the first time on February 15, 1965.
As stated in the National Flag of Canada Act, all Canadians are encouraged to proudly display the National Flag of Canada in accordance with flag protocol.
The National Flag of Canada is a red flag, twice as long as it is wide (proportion 2:1). In its centre is a white square the width of the Flag, with a single stylized 11-point red maple leaf in the centre. The flag is horizontally symmetric.
The Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB), which falls under the Department of Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), is responsible for maintaining the three National Standards of Canada for the Flag of Canada, namely:
- CAN/CGSB-98.1-2023, National Flag of Canada (Outdoor Use);
- CAN/CGSB-98.2-2023, National Flag of Canada (Indoor Use); and
- CAN/CGSB-98.3-2023, National Flag of Canada (One-Event Only Use).
These standards apply to the design, colour, material and performance requirements for their intended use as stipulated in the National Flag of Canada Manufacturing Standards Act.
Normativa de uso
The manner in which flags may be displayed in Canada is not governed by legislation but by established practice and convention. The etiquette used is an adaptation of international usage and customs that the federal government has observed for many years. Given the important symbolism of flags, they should always be treated with respect.
The rules applied by the federal government are in no way mandatory for individuals or organizations; they may serve as guidelines for all persons who wish to display the National Flag of Canada and other flags in Canada.
Various authorities regulate the use of flags at the federal level in Canada. The Department of Canadian Heritage is responsible for establishing the protocol and guidelines for the use of the National Flag of Canada across all federal buildings, properties and institutions, both in Canada and abroad. The Directorate of History and Heritage of the Canadian Armed Forces regulates the use of military flags and emblems.
The National Flag of Canada may be flown day and night and does not need to be lighted while flying after sundown.
The National Flag of Canada always takes precedence over all other national flags when flown on Canadian soil. Therefore, it should always be placed in the position of honour.
The location of the position of honour depends on the number of flags flown and the type of configuration.
- When 2 flags are displayed, the position of honour is the farthest to the left when an observer is facing the display.
- When 3 flags are flown, the position of honour is in the centre.
- When more than 3 flags are displayed, the position of honour is the farthest to the left when an observer is facing the display.
The only flags to which precedence is given over the National Flag of Canada are The King’s Personal Canadian Flag, the governor general’s flag, the flags of the lieutenant governors (within their jurisdictions) and the Personal Canadian Flags of other members of the Royal Family.
The order of precedence for flags, for all federal buildings and institutions, is under the authority of the Department of Canadian Heritage.
In Canada, the order of precedence for flags is:
- the National Flag of Canada
- the flags of other sovereign nations, in alphabetical order
- the flags of the provinces of Canada, in the order in which they joined Confederation
- the flags of the territories of Canada, in the order in which they joined Confederation
- the flags of municipalities/cities
- the flags and banners of organizations
- Historical flags
The Canada Coat of Arms, or Arms of Canada, were originally adopted by proclamation of His Majesty King George V in 1921. In 1994, a circular, red ribbon was added to the arms – displaying the motto of the Order of Canada: Desiderantes Meliorem Patriam. The English translation of the Latin text is “They desire a better country”, which is taken from the Epistle to the Hebrews (New Testament) 11:16.
The Coat of Arms includes:
- symbols of the 4 founding European nations of Canada featured on the shield: the 3 royal lions of England, the royal lion of Scotland, the royal fleur-de-lis of France, and the royal Irish harp of Tara
- the lion of England holding the Royal Union Flag and the unicorn of Scotland carrying the flag of Royal France
- the floral emblems of the 4 founding European nations: the English rose, the Scottish thistle, the French fleur-de-lis, and the Irish shamrock
- the Royal Crown at the top, indicating that these are the Arms of His Majesty the King in Right of Canada. They are commonly called the “Canada Coat of Arms”, the “Coat of Arms of Canada”, the “Arms of Canada” or the “Royal Coat of Arms of Canada”
The music for O Canada was composed in 1880 by Calixa Lavallée — a well-known composer at the time — and the French lyrics were written by Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier.
As the song became more and more popular, many English versions were written over the years , including one based on a poem written in 1908 by The Honourable Robert Stanley Weir. It was Weir’s lyrics that became the official English version in 1980.
On January 31, 2018, legislation was passed to change the English lyrics from “True patriot love in all thy sons command” to “True patriot love in all of us command,” to make it gender neutral.
Sobre la ejecución del himno.
There is no specific rule as to when it is appropriate to sing the national anthem at an event. It is up to the organizers to determine if O Canada will be sung at the beginning or at the end of a ceremony. If 2 anthems are to be played at the beginning of an event, O Canada should be played first followed by the other one. When anthems are played at the end of an event, O Canada should be played last.
As a matter of respect and tradition, it is proper to stand for the playing of O Canada; this is also the case for the anthem of any other nation. It is traditional for civilian men to take off their hats during the playing of the national anthem. Women and children do not remove their hats on such occasions.
There is no law or behaviour governing the playing of the national anthem; it is left to the good citizenship of individuals.
Letra y música.
O Canada! Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all of us command,
Car ton bras sait porter l’épée,
Il sait porter la croix!
Ton histoire est une épopée
Des plus brillants exploits,
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
Una versión bilingüe del himno de Canadá puede escucharse aquí, cortesía de la Toronto Symphony Orchestra, conducida por Peter Oundjian y cantada en inglés y francés por Nathalie Paulin y Julie Nesrallah.
According to the National Symbol of Canada Act (RSC, 1985, c. N-17), it is «recognized and declared that the Beaver (Castor canadensis) is a symbol of the sovereignty of Canada and it is proclaimed that any representation of the Beaver (Castor canadensis) when used by Her Majesty in right of Canada shall be so used and so regarded».
According to the official webpage of the government of Canada, here is no official manual of protocol or ceremonial. Protocol, by definition, has to be flexible and adapt to the various players on the political or social stage: an official manual would quickly become the «Protocol Bible» and inflexibility would follow. However, the Department of Heritage issues the follow list with the Order of Prececence.
For titles, styles of address, and further explanation of positional rankings, please see the attached Order of Precedence here.
For precedence regarding the Canadian Forces, please see the attached Order of Precedence here.
Table of Precedence for Canada
The terminology found in this table was updated following His Majesty King Charles III’s accession to the Throne on September 8, 2022.
- The Governor General of Canada or the Administrator of the Government of Canada
- The Prime Minister of Canada
- The Chief Justice of Canada
- The Speaker of the Senate
- The Speaker of the House of Commons
- Ambassadors, High Commissioners, Ministers Plenipotentiary
- Members of the Canadian Ministry:
- a. Members of the Cabinet; and
- b. Ministers of State;
with relative precedence within sub-categories (a) and (b) governed by the date of their appointment to the King’s Privy Council for Canada
- The Leader of the Opposition
- The Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
The Lieutenant Governor of Quebec
The Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia
The Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick
The Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba
The Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia
The Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island
The Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan
The Lieutenant Governor of Alberta
The Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador
- Members of the King’s Privy Council for Canada, not of the Canadian Ministry, in accordance with the date of their appointment to the Privy Council but with precedence given to those who bear the honorary title «Right Honourable» in accordance with the date of receiving the honorary title
- Premiers of the Provinces of Canada in the same order as Lieutenant Governors
- The Commissioner of the Northwest Territories
The Commissioner of the Yukon Territory
The Commissioner of Nunavut
- Premiers of the Territories of Canada in the same order as Commissioners
- Representatives of faith communities
- Puisne Judges of the Supreme Court of Canada
- The Chief Justice and the Associate Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Canada
- a. Chief Justices of the highest court of each Province and Territory; and
- b. Chief Justices and Associate Chief Justices of the other superior courts of the Provinces and Territories; with precedence within sub-categories (a) and (b) governed by the date of appointment as Chief Justice
- a. Judges of the Federal Court of Canada;
- b. Puisne Judges of the superior courts of the Provinces and Territories;
- c. the Chief Judge of the Tax Court of Canada;
- d. the Associate Chief Judge of the Tax Court of Canada; and
- e. Judges of the Tax Court of Canada; with precedence within each sub-category governed by the date of appointment
- Senators of Canada
- Members of the House of Commons
- Consuls General of countries without diplomatic representation
- Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to Cabinet
- The Chief of the Defence Staff and the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
- Speakers of Legislative Assemblies, within their Province and Territory
- Members of Executive Councils, within their Province and Territory
- Judges of Provincial and Territorial Courts, within their Province and Territory
- Members of Legislative Assemblies, within their Province and Territory
- Chairperson of the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians
National Symbol of Canada Act (RSC, 1985, c. N-17). Disponible aquí.
National Flag of Canada Act (SC 2012, c.12). Disponible aquí.
National Anthem Act (RSC, 1985, c. N-2). Disponible aquí.
National Flag of Canada Manufacturing Standards Act. Disponible aquí.
Para facilidad de consulta, se anexan los siguientes documentos en pdf:
- Partitura del himno nacional de Canadá, con letra bilingüe en francés e inglés. Disponible aquí.
ENLACES DE INTERÉS
- Protocol guidelines for organizing or attending a special event, a guide by the government of Canada. (https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/services/protocol-guidelines-special-event.html)
- Canadian Protocol Offices by province or territory. (https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/services/protocol-offices.html)
- Rules for flying the National Flag of Canada. (https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/services/flag-canada-etiquette/flying-rules.html)