Maple leaf flag designerJohn Ross Matheson

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A Canadian, Matheson served in the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery in World War II, and retired as a Colonel. In 1961, he was elected as a member of the Canadian Parliament, from Leeds, and was one of the leaders of the multi-party parliamentary committee mandated to select a new flag design for the country. George F.G. Stanley had a suggestion, which he brought to Matheson: the flag should be red and white, and should feature the single maple leaf. Stanley and Matheson worked out the design, which was adopted on February 15, 1965. “It was basic heraldry,” Matheson said recently. “White and red is considered the most powerful combination in heraldry. That’s why the Canadian flag has the brightest red. And the starkest white. It had to be that way.” The single bright red maple leaf has become the symbol of the country. In 1966, Matheson helped create the Order of Canada — Canada’s second highest honor for merit. (The highest, Order of Merit, is awarded personally by the queen.) After failing a reelection bid in 1968 (losing by only 4 votes), he served as a judge — and in 1993 was made an Officer of the Order of Canada himself. Matheson, widely known as the “father of the flag” in Canada, died December 27, at 96.

From This is True for 29 December 2013