Thursday, 6 November 2014

Fifty years ago today.

A little bit of music on this Thursday 6 November, Feast day of the creation of the Canadian Flag.
Some 50 years ago today on a stormy night in 1964 a young woman by the name of Joan O'Malley got a call from her father Ken Donovan telling her that he had just gotten a call from the Prime Minister's Office about the new Canadian Flag which was being debated in Parliament. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Lester B.Pearson had promised the country during the election that if he became Prime Minister he would see to it that we would have a new Canadian Flag. Some 6,000 designs had been studied by various committees in Parliament. We were down to 3 prototypes and Joan's father who worked at the Exhibition Commission of the then Department of Trade and Commerce was told to get  the 3 prototypes ready for Saturday morning so they could be flown at Harrington Lake, the Country Estate of the Prime Minister outside Ottawa in the Gatineau Hills. The design under final consideration was the single Red Maple Leaf on a white background, was to be tried out to see if it would make it as a flag on a flagpole.

Joan was a young newlywed, seamstress so her father Ken got her to come down to his office with her Singer Sewing Machine to sow the prototypes together. It was not an easy task since the material was thick and difficult to sow together, she worked until almost midnight and got the job done. Her father then drove from his Government Office to 24 Sussex Drive to hand deliver the final product to the Prime Minister who was waiting. The new Canadian Flag was Proclaimed in February 1965.

Ken Donovan and his daughter Joan O'Malley did make history that night. Donovan was one of 100,000 home children (orphans) who were sent to Canada from Britain between 1860-1930. These children were indentured servants in Canada, he was one of the lucky ones, he became a senior Public  Servant in the Federal Government and coming to Canada gave him a better life. His daughter Joan says this is why my father was so excited about the flag because it represented opportunity for him and a new life.

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