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History of Canadian and Danish National Flags

History of Canadian and Danish National Flags

Author: Joel Hansen

At the end of this tutorial students (you) should have an understanding of the basic history of both the Danish and the Canadian national flags. As well as what this means to each country in regards to their modern society. First read through the text and look at the pictures (do not forget to read the captions), then take a look at the website I provided. And finally take the quiz. 

I have found it quite fascinating that Canada's national flag has only been used since 15 of Febuary 1965, as opposed to the Danish national flag witch is rumored to be 795 years old.

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        According to legend Dannebrog fell down from the sky during the battle of Lyndanisse in 1219. The legend states that the Danes were losing the battle, but a Danish priest that was looking upon the battle was praying to God for a Danish victory whilst holding his arm out stretched to the heavens. When his arms began to fall the Danish troops were pushed back, when all seemed lost two Danish soldiers came to help the priest hold his arms up. Then suddenly Dannebrog fell from the heavens from God. The Danish King Valdemar II took up the flag and lead his troops to victory.

        However, this is only a legend. The first undisputed use of Dannebrog is in a Dutch armorial (a book containing lists of coat of arms) that was written between 1340-1370. On page 55 of the book it has the Danish coat of arms as well as Dannebrog. (although it looks slightly different than the modern day Danish flag)

    This means that the Danish flag is either 795 years old or around 674-644 years old. Either way you look at it, this is a very old flag with a lot of history.


Modern Dannebrog


​Dannebrog falling from the sky on the 15th of June 1219.


Page 55 of Dutch Armorial


Canadas national flag is called ''The Maple Leaf'' in English and in French it is called ''l'Unifolié''. However the flag that is flown today is not the flag that was raised on the 1st of July 1867 (The day Canada became an independent country). The original Canadian flag looked very similar to the national flags of New Zealand and Australia, with a small Union flag in the top right corner. The original flag was used from 1867 to 1921. There were small changes made to the flag, this happened when a new province was formed, so the next flag was used from 1921 to 1957. On the 15th of June 1965 the great Canadian flag debate started. Some of the main reasons the Canadian government (well part of it any ways) wanted to change the flag are; at the end of the Suez Crises in 1956, Canadian peacekeepers with the UN were not welcome by the Egyptian locals. This was the case because of the Union flag's presence on Canada's flag (at the time) on Canadian military uniforms. The peacekeepers took the flags off of their uniforms and stitched make-shift maple leaves onto their sleeves. Another reason for the change of flag was that the federal government wanted to appease the provincial government of Québec. For those of you who do not know, the province of Québec is primarily a French province. Through out the history of Canada there has always been tension between the French and the English. Through out the 20th century Québec has been on the edge of separating from Canada and becoming a new country. So the idea was to lose the Union flag from Canada's flag and make a new flag that represented Canada as an independent country with ties to BOTH France and England. To come up with a new design the government asked the general public to send them their own ideas of what the flag should look like. There were 3541 entries from the public. 2136 of them had maple leaves, 408 contained the union flag, 389 had beavers and 359 had Fleurs-de-lys. The 3 finalists were presented to parliament and were voted on. Finalist that won became the current flag of Canada. The first time the modern Canadian flag was flown was the 15th of Febuary 1965, this day has become known as National Flag of Canada Day (for short it is also known as Flag Day). 

Original flag of Canada used from 1868 to 1921.


Second Canadian flag,  used from 1921 to 1957

Third Canadian flag used from 1957 to 1965. (Note only a small change from the previous one)

One of the three finalist from the Great Canadian Flag Debate

Another finalist from the Debate (This one was the prime minister's preferred choice) (Also note the blue on either side represents the Pacific ocean (on the left) and the Atlantic ocean (on the right))

The third finalist of the debate. This one was chosen but then altered to the following one.

The current flag of Canada.

Canadian Flag proposals

There is lots of information on this web site, however the reason I put it up is because of the photos of flags that could have been the Canadian national flag.