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Canadian Flag Etiquette

Last modified: 2004-10-30 by
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Canadian Flag Etiquette

There is a great listing of official Canadian rules on the Maple Leaf Flag (also known as The National Flag of Canada) at

In case your French is better than your English, go to
David Morgan - 2 March 1998

This site discusses the variations of displays requested. The specifics are too long to post here. The whole document, excluding cover, printed from the web site covers approx. 20 pages. Good researching.
Phil Nelson - 17 June 1998


The flag of highest rank, per the standards referenced, is that of the Sovereign, who is also head of the British Commonwealth. Her flag is flown only on her places of residence and when at official functions within Canada. Other members of the royal family may be represented by their flags when in residence or on official duties in Canada, and then only the flag of the highest ranking royalty present. Note, the sovereign's flag to which I refer is the Queen's Canadian standard.

Next in rank is the Governor-General, who is the Queen's representative. His flag is flown at residence and office and when on official functions. Similarly, there is the standard of the Lt. Governor, whose flag has highest rank in each Province. The rules governing the display of the Governor-General's flag apply here as well. The order of next rank is the Canadian flag itself.
Heads of state visiting Canada have the standard of their office displayed next.

Then comes flags of other nations, followed by Provincial flags according to their entry into the confederation.

The Royal Union Flag or Union Jack is only designated to be displayed on Victoria Day, the anniversary of the Statute of Westminster and on Commonwealth Day. If there is only one flag pole, precedence is given the Canadian flag and the Union Jack display is omitted. Also of note in the protocol is the dual status of the Union Jack. When representing the United Kingdom, it is considered an international flag and therefore displayed with flags of other nations. When a symbol of the Commonwealth, it is displayed in lower protocol than the flags of the Provinces.

Naturally, there are exceptions to every rule. According to my research into Provincial laws passed in the past few years, it appears to be a standard that within a particular Province, when not a part of a national celebration, the Provincial flag is displayed in higher rank, followed by the flags of other Provinces. One Province, in particular, noting that legislation made it the first to display the flags of all Provinces in its chambers, set a protocol whereby the flags of the other provinces would line the chamber rather than occupy places of honor, these being reserved for the Canadian and their own Provincial flag.
Phillip Nelson - 18 June 1998

Folding the Canadian Flag

This reminds me of a query I had from a UK theatre company that was putting on a play that included a British military funeral. They too wanted to know how to fold the flag. The answer for both Canada and the UK is that there is no formal way of folding the flag. You simply fold it ready for use next time. The Canadian government website includes a diagram of how this is done for Canadian flags at but basically you fold in lengthwise (i.e., so you now have a flag four times as long as it is high) then again (ie 8 x 1) and then hold it three quarters of the way from the hoist back on itself and tie with light cotton. When the flag is hoisted on the pole, a sharp tug on the lower rope will break the cotton and the flag will fly free.
Graham Bartram - 27 April 1998

A Folder accompanying a Flag

Yesterday, I acquired a 3x6 foot Canadian flag! This is now the biggest flag I have, I'm going to have to look into buying an indoor flagpole, I don't have room to display it another way!! It also came with a slip of paper entitled "Flying Colours" about care and regulations of the flag - I figured this is great information to share:


This is a printed nylon flag manufactured in Canada. The following suggestions will assist you in obtaining full value from your flag.

  1. Where possible, a flag should be taken down every night.
  2. Never store a wet or damp flag; spread it out until dry.
  3. If soiled, a flag may be safely hand washed, using any domestic soap or detergent which does not contain bleach.
  4. If slightly frayed or torn, a flag should be repaired at once. It could save the cost of a new flag.
  5. When two or more than three flags are flown together, the Canadian flag should be on the left, as seen by spectators. Whenever three flags are flown, the Canadian flag should be in the middle.

When your flag is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, it should be destroyed in a dignified manner.

Toronto, Ontario
Vancouver, B. C.

David Kendall - 20 July 1998

Protocol Order of Provincial/Territorial Flags

How are Canadian Provinces' and Territories' flags ordered in display ?
Thomas Koh - 1998-01-12

My observations have generally shown that they are ordered geographically - start at Newfoundland and work west to BC. That leaves out Yukon and NWT - I have seen them stuck at both ends, or at the western end, but in either order. I expect somewhere, also, they are in alphabetical order, and somewhere probably in order of entry into confederation.
Rob Raeside - 1998-01-12

I have always seen the geographical order with the Canadian flag right in the middle, flanked by the Ontarian flag on the left and the Quebec Fleur-de-lis on the right. This also corresponds to geography, since the capital city, Ottawa, is right on the border between ON and QC. (More precisely, it's in Ontario, but it's just a bridge-crossing away from Quebec. Unfortunately, this nice coincidence will be ruined by the creation of Nunavut in 15 months. We'll see what they'll come up with)
Luc-Vartan Baronian - 1998-01-12

Editor's note :
This would be probably be then :


which conflicts with :

The Department of Canadian Heritage wants them to be displayed in order of Confederation seniority, either left to right:

(National Flag) ON QC NS NB MB BC PE SK AB NL NT YT (optionally another National Flag at the right),

or from outside in:

NT AB PE MB NS ON (National Flag) QC NB BC SK NL YT.

Geographically west to east or east to west is also commonly seen, but it's not vexillologically correct--at least not for flags owned by the federal government.
Dean Tiegs - 1998-01-12

Just to be pedantic, weren't the Northwest Territories organized well before several of the provinces?
Joshua Fruhlinger - 1998-01-13

Probably (the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan being formed from its territory), but I'm sure the protocol is that provinces always have seniority to territories. Case in point, Yukon was formed in 1898 (due in large part to the Gold Rush), which is before Alberta (1905), Saskatchewan (1905) and Newfoundland (1949) joined the confederation.
David Kendall - 1998-01-13

True, in fact many western provinces were "cut out" from them. I guess, their territorial status is the reason; they have a commissioner and a government leader instead of respectively a Lt-Governor and a Premier.
Besides, the governments and legislative assemblies of Ontario and Quebec are older than their Canadian counterpart, so...
Luc-Vartan Baronian - 1998-01-13

Construction Sheet

Canadian Construction sheet located at:

Color specifications: