The Images of a Country
Saskatchewan Council for Archives & Archivists
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Flag Debate: Educational Resources

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1. What is the historical significance of a flag as a symbol? I.e. what exactly does a flag symbolize? Is it almost like internationally-recognized currency? Why does a standard, upon display, bring a rush of patriotic feeling or emotion for some?

2. Keeping the Red Ensign was a strong factor in the Flag Debate, as demonstrated in the reaction to the announcement of Prime Minister, Lester B. Pearson, of a distinctive flag for Canada at the Royal Canadian Legion’s Convention in Winnipeg, May 17, 1964. What were the main reasons for retention of the Red Ensign? How could a new flag threaten to destroy the image of “King (Queen) and Country” represented by that flag?

3. Life in 1964… Nikita Kruschev is no longer in office, there’s war in Viet Nam, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wins the Nobel Peace Prize and the Beatles rule radio with nine solid hits including, “Can’t Buy Me Love.” “My Fair Lady” and “007 Goldfinger” are winning rave reviews. It’s a brave new world as Panama and the U.S. struggle over the Panama Canal, an unmanned Apollo 1 Saturn orbits the earth, Ford unveils its Mustang, and the crown of it all --on May 1, 1964, two computer programs written in BASIC are successfully run on General Electric’s 225 mainframe computer at Dartmouth College. This “Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code,” developed as a programming language for students, ten years later would be adapted by Bill Gates and Paul Allen for the world’s first personal computer. And the rest would be history… Write an essay: “1964” researching world, Canadian and your own family events to tell an in-depth, factual and personal story of this year. If your family members can reminisce about the flag debate, include their memories as well.

4. The Flag Debate, as our best conversation piece, helped us all to define Canada and Canadians. True or False? Write a 3 –page essay in support of your opinion.

5. Was the Flag Debate political/democratic or a social/patriotic issue?

6. Without Lester B. Pearson or John Diefenbaker, would there have been a flag debate at all?

7. Research Canadian newspapers to determine the effects of the flag debate on Canada’s various regions (e.g. Quebec, Yukon, Saskatchewan and British Columbia).

8. There’s been no issue like it. Or has there been? What other issue has so captured public sentiment and interest?

9. How important is it that the designs submitted from across Canada be preserved? Is this good use of our archives? Why? Why not?

© 2003 Diefenbaker Canada Centre Archives