Flying the Flag

Flying the Flag
Al Taylor

The Canadian flag waving atop your own flag pole or off the stern of your boat has a great feel to it, especially in cottage country against the backdrop of the trees, sky, and water. I personally feel a lot of pride about flying our national emblem on my property and it has a certain thing about it that is …well, it’s patriotism, there, I’ve said it and I am a Canadian.

My interest in flag protocol began in Cubs and Scouts. We spent a lot of time handling our flag, raising, lowering, folding, and using it in ceremonies and church parades. We never let it touch the ground, we folded it carefully with respect and dignity. Fifty years later those memories flood back whenever a neglected flag comes into view.

A few years back, while on HMCS Algonquin as a guest, I witnessed the entire crew salute the flag at sunset as it was lowered, something never to be forgotten. It was quite an experience; again, the feeling rushed back.

Too often I have seen sad remnants of our flag tattered and torn flapping on a pole left up for months on end. Please take it down and / or replace it; it is a disgrace to treat the flag this way.

Now what do you do with a no longer serviceable flag? Bury it? Wrap it carefully and put it in the garbage? No, you burn it. Proper flag protocol requires the flag to be disposed of privately in this manner, because fire is pure. Whenever our flag is burned in protest for whatever reason, there is no need to be incensed; it is far better than desecration.

The National Flag of Canada should always be flown on its own mast – flag protocol dictating that it is improper to fly two or more flags on the same mast (e.g. one beneath the other).

General rules governing flags and pleasure craft:

• The flag should be flown in harbour and should be hoisted at 0800 hours and lowered at sunset.

• Whenever possible, the proper place for a vessel to display the national colours is at the stern.

Finally, if you are considering putting up a flag pole, but are unsure what size, here are the proper dimensions of flag to pole height.

3 x 6 feet 17 to 20 feet
.90 x 1.80 metres 5.10 to 6 metres
4.5 x 9 feet 30 to 35 feet
1.4 x 2.8 metres 9 to 10.5 metres
6 x 12 feet 40 to 45 feet
1.8 x 3.6 metres 12 to 13.5 metres
7.5 x 15 feet 50 feet
2.3 x 4.6 metres 15 metres

Put up our flag and fly it with pride, not just on Canada Day, but all season.