Where Were You February 15, 1965?

 

Canadian Red Ensign flag

 

 

 

The following story was written by RCMP Veteran Ric Hall (#24394/O.1330) and published on this website in August 2016:

 

 

 

 

“Where Were You February 15, 1965?

In 2017 there will be Canadian flags and RCMP members in Review Order in abundance when Canada celebrates its 150th Anniversary.  

Photograph of an RCMP Detachment with the Canadian flag with the northern lights in the background (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection).

Photograph of an RCMP Detachment with the Canadian flag with the northern lights in the background (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection).

The Canadian flag flying at Fond du Lac Detachment with the northern lights in the background. The only things that could make it more Canadian would be a hockey stick leaning against the detachment sign and a gaggle of Canadian geese standing around.

In the early days of the Force in old pictures you will often see the Union Jack flying from the flag pole at the Force’s detachments. The Dominion of Canada was still considered a colony, part of the British Empire. The Royal Union Jack remained Canada’s official flag until 1946.

Photograph of RNWMP Big Smokey Detachment (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection).

Photograph of RNWMP Big Smokey Detachment flying the Union Jack (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection).

Photograph of RCMP Detachment at Teslin Lake (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection).

Photograph of RCMP Detachment at Teslin Lake (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection).

Photograph of RCMP members stationed at Moose Factory (James Bay) (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection).

Photograph of RCMP members stationed at Moose Factory (James Bay) (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection).

Photograph of the flag also made a colourful addition to a member's quarters (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection).

Photograph of the flag also made a colourful addition to a member’s quarters (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection).

Photograph of the version of the Red Ensign from 1868 to 1921 as the unofficial flag of Canada (Source of image - Ric Hall's Photo Collection).

Photograph of the version of the Red Ensign from 1868 to 1921 as the unofficial flag of Canada (Source of image – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection).

Canada’s flag from 1868 to 1965 combined the Red Ensign of her Majesty’s Fleet with the Canadian-Coat-of-Arm, this adopted flag became the official Canadian Ensign. King George V approved a new Coat-of-Arms for Canada in the early 1920s and this was incorporated into the Canadian Red Ensign.   Up until 1945 the Royal Union Jack was flown over the Parliament Buildings, that year the Government of Canada deemed it acceptable for the Red Ensign to be flown on government buildings and wherever a distinctive Canadian flag would be necessary.

Image of the last version of the Canadian Red Ensign 1957 - 1965 (Source of image - Ric Hall's Photo Collection)

Image of the last version of the Canadian Red Ensign 1957 – 1965 (Source of image – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection)

In 1964, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson formed a committee to resolve the ongoing issue of the lack of an official Canadian flag, sparking a serious debate about a flag change to replace the Union Flag. Out of three choices, the maple leaf design by George Stanley, based on the flag of the Royal Military College of Canada, was selected. The flag made its first official appearance on February 15, 1965; the date is now celebrated annually as National Flag of Canada Day.

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How many retired members recall at small locations across Canada having to go out in the morning, or the evening, and raise or lower the flag, whether the Ensign or the Maple Leaf.   This old guy recalls at a northern Alberta two-man detachment sitting in the detachment office in the evening when there was a knock at the office door.   It was the Officer Commanding the Sub-Division, just passing through and he needed to use the facilities. It was a very cold winter night and well past flag lowering time.   Prior to using the facilities he made it abundantly clear that the flag must be lowered. This young constable rushes outside, no hat, no jacket and no gloves, and starts to lower the flag, but it was very cold!   I was blowing on my hands trying to keep them warm.   The O.C., obviously due to his extreme wisdom and experience, points out to the young constable that if he was properly dressed he would not be cold!   Smart guy that O.C.

The raising and lowering of the flag has been useful to the tourist trade as it has been used many times over for post cards….Mounties and flags, tourists love them!

Postcards of the flag raising at Fairmont Barracks - with both the Red Ensign and the new Maple Leaf flag.

Postcards of the flag raising at Fairmont Barracks – with both the Red Ensign and the new Maple Leaf flag.

The first “new” Canadian flag is raised on Parliament Hill February 15, 1965, by Constable Gaetan Secours Reg # 22984. The flag raising across Canada was to take place at the same time and date.  

Before the big day of the flag raising, flags were received by the “Depot” Division stores for distribution. One was sent to every subdivision and detachment with the instructions that they were to be ceremoniously raised at the appropriate time on the appropriate date. One of “F” Division’s detachment commanders decided, a few days ahead of time, that it would be prudent to examine the received item in advance to ensure all was well. And it was lucky he did so. When he opened it, it was a flag for the “Red and White Stores”. He quickly reported his finding and all other flags were examined to ensure they were correct. They were all correct and the flag raisings proceeded according to plan.

February 15, 1965 across Canada the Maple Leaf was raised for the first time. Some flag raisings were more formal than others.

Below are the only pictures I could find of the flag raising on Parliament Hill.  Barely visible would be Constable Gaetan Secours in a fur cap and pea jacket.

1965 - Photograph of the new Canadian flag being raised at the Canadian Parliament (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection).

1965 – Photograph of the new Canadian flag being raised at the Canadian Parliament (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection).

1965 - First raising of the Canadian Flag at the Canadian Parliament Buildings (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection).

1965 – First raising of the Canadian Flag at the Canadian Parliament Buildings (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection).

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Unknown detachment and members lower the old and raise the new. They were obviously much smarter than me, as they are properly dressed for the winter weather conditions. Perhaps their Officer Commanding was the one taking the picture!

Fairmont Barracks Vancouver was the scene of a very formal raising and lowering of the two flags. As per usual for February it appears that there may have been a slight rain fall.   It certainly could have been worse for Vancouver at this time of the year.

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1965 - Photograph at the RCMP Fairmount Barracks in Vancouver - Red ensign coming down (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection).

1965 – Photograph at the RCMP Fairmont Barracks in Vancouver – Red ensign coming down (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection).

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1965 – Photograph at the RCMP Fairmont Barracks in Vancouver – preparing to raise th new Canadian flag (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Corner).

1965 - Photograph at the RCMP Fairmount Barracks in Vancouver - raising the new Canadian flag (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection).

1965 – Photograph at the RCMP Fairmont Barracks in Vancouver – raising the new Canadian flag (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection).

Before leaving his position as “E” Division Sergeant Major, David Hall, came across a couple of black and photographs of the raising of the new Canadian Flag at Fairmont Barracks.    From the written notes on the photos it appears that these black white photos may have been taken by a photographer from the Vancouver Province newspaper as it indicates colour versions were published in the paper.

1965 - Photograph at the RCMP Fairmount Barrack in Vancouver - Taking down the Canadian Ensign (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection).

1965 – Photograph at the RCMP Fairmont Barrack in Vancouver – Taking down the Canadian Ensign (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection).

1965 - RCMP Fairmount Barracks in Vancouver - Blessing the new flag (Source of photo - Ric Hall' Photo Collection).

1965 – RCMP Fairmont Barracks in Vancouver – Blessing the new flag (Source of photo – Ric Hall’ Photo Collection).

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1965 – Photograph at the RCMP Fairmont Barracks in Vancouver – raising the new Canadian flag (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection).

Vancouver had a slight drizzle to contend with for the new flag raising, in Regina at “Depot”, it was, as can be expected in February, a different story. Fur caps and Pea Jackets were the order of the day!

Photograph of RCMP Recruits on Parade in the winter at "Depot" Division (Source of photo - Ric Hall's Photo Collection).

Photograph of RCMP Recruits on Parade in the winter at “Depot” Division. According to Veteran Dan Lemieux “there are 4 Staff Sergeants in the photo. One is a Right Marker of the closest Troop and the other three are Troop Commanders. I was Troop Commander of either the second or third troop. The others would be Bill Pomfret, Harry Armstrong (Riding Master) and the NCO I/C FS&S. Don Chapin. It was a cold day.” (Source of photo – Ric Hall’s Photo Collection).

 

Force legend has it that the Commanding Officer of “F” Division whose office was in “A” Block, now the A.B. Perry Building, did not participate in the parade but stayed in his office.   He, as were many others of the day, was a staunch supporter of the old Canadian Red Ensign and did not approve of the “new” Canadian Maple Leaf flag.”

image of Ric Hall closing block for his Photo Corner webpage

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