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The National Flag of Canada often simply referred to as the Canadian flag, or unofficially as the Maple Leaf or l’Unifolié consists of a red field with a white square at its center in the ratio of 1:2:1, in the middle of which is featured a stylized, red, 11-pointed maple leaf charged in the center. It is the first flag to have been adopted by both houses of Parliament and officially proclaimed by the Canadian monarch as the country’s official national flag.
While the design of the flag was new, it featured a familiar symbol that had a long history of use in Canada. The maple leaf emerged in the 19th century as a symbol of Canadian identity and was everywhere in popular culture: books, songs, coins, badges, banners, and many other items.
Generations of Canadians had already adopted the maple leaf as a symbol of their identity, but it is during the First World War — where it was used as the cap badge worn by members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force — that it became the most widely recognized emblem of the nation.
Most poignantly, it is a single maple leaf that is carved upon many of the headstones of Canadian service men and women who gave their lives in the 2 world wars. For many, the maple leaf was a shared symbol of pride, courage and loyalty.