Description of the National Flag of Canada

The National Flag of Canada was approved by Parliament in 1964 and proclaimed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to take effect on .

Technical description

The National Flag of Canada is a red flag, twice as long as it is wide (or 64 units in length and 32 units in width or depth, as shown in the accompanying diagram). In its centre is a white square the width of the Flag, with a single red maple leaf in the centre.

The Canadian flag with a grid on top showing the flag's proportions: two by length and one by width (or 64 units in length and 32 units in width or depth)


In the general sense, flagpoles may be divided into three categories:

  • exterior permanent poles (located on buildings or on the nearby grounds);
  • exterior portable poles; and
  • interior poles.

The exterior poles should be fitted with a hoisting device, such as a halyard and pulley arrangement, to allow for the flags to be easily changed and half-masted as required.

Flag size and pole length for building poles should correspond to the following dimensions:

Flag (width x length)Pole
0.90 X 1.80 metres (3 X 6 feet) 5.10 to 6 metres (17 to 20 feet)
1.40 X 2.80 metres (4 1/2 X 9 feet) 9 to 10.50 metres (30 to 35 feet)
1.80 X 3.60 metres (6 X 12 feet) 12 to 13.50 metres (40 to 45 feet)
2.30 X 4.60 metres (7 1/2 X 15 feet) 15 metres (50 feet)

Sometimes, the simple flagpole is fitted with a yardarm or gaff to increase the number of flags that may be flown from it. This practice is in imitation of a ship’s mast and is normally found at naval establishments on shore. Proper care should be taken to ensure that flag etiquette is followed when this type of pole is used.

Elements of the Flag

The maple leaf

The maple leaf has been a recognizable and important symbol for Canada for over 300 years. It has been used to symbolize Canada, the land and its people. It is also used in the coat of arms and the flags of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Learn more about the maple leaf symbol of Canada.

Red and white – Canada’s national colours

Canada’s national colours have a deep foundation in history. The colours, red and white, can be traced back through France and England.

Find out more on the history and symbolism of our national colours.

Heraldic description

The heraldic description is: gules (red) on a Canadian pale argent (white), a maple leaf of the first.

Colour Specifications

The Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) is responsible for maintaining the three National Standards of Canada for the Flag of Canada standards, namely:

  • CAN/CGSB-98.1-2011, National Flag of Canada (Outdoor Use);
  • CAN/CGSB-98.2-2011, National Flag of Canada (Indoor Use); and
  • CAN/CGSB-98.3-M91 (Reaffirmed 2012), National Flag of Canada (One-Event Only Use).

These standards apply to the design, colour, material and performance requirements for their intended use as stipulated in the National Flag of Canada Manufacturing Standards Act. For example, both outdoor and indoor use flag standards provide requirements for grommets, fabric, and construction requirements for stitching.

The National Flag of Canada standards are maintained by CGSB technical committees of volunteers representing producer, user and general interest organizations. These committees strive to improve the National Flag of Canada standards at each periodic review by considering the technological advances in the production of materials and dyes used in the manufacturing of flags.

The standards can be purchased from any of the Canadian General Standard Board’s resellers.

Educational and promotional material to celebrate the Canadian flag

You can request to receive by mail educational items related to the National Flag and to historical flags of Canada. Promotional items are also available for special occasions.

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