Page 4e2.2 Great Canadian Heritage Discoveries
Go to Great Collections List
Use Internet
More important Canadian antique memorabilia the Museum has preserved.

Queen Victoria Flags & Banners - 1867-1902 - 2

1 2 3 4 5 6
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Boer War Display Flag (Canadian) - 1867-1870
Orig. flag - Size - 56 x 66 cm
Found - Vancouver, BC
Cotton printed flag featuring Dominion of Canada coat of arms
Another Canadian display flag shown left, which also mimics the Red Ensign, looks positively pedestrian beside the magnificent Union Jack.

The "Canadian" flag, in comparison, is boring in all respects, much, some say, like the country it represents... Therefore, they contend, it was the perfect flag for Canada.

Canada, since it evolved from a British colony had always used the Union Jack, and proudly so. It was the Union Jack which defended Canadian soil from American and Fenian attacks all during the nineteenth century.

Some time after Canada became a self governing Dominion in 1867, some thought a bit of distance was called for, and people started using the British merchant marine flag, or Red Ensign, which had a tastefully reduced Union Jack in the corner left. But Union Jacks continued to be wildly flown just as much.

This flag, like the one above, also predates 1905, so it may have been displayed during Boer War victory marches, or Queen Victoria's Gold (1887) or Diamond (1897) Jubilees, or all of the above...

The flag left was reputedly displayed in the streets of Halifax when Canada's First Contingent returned from the wars November 1, 1900, below.

The white helmeted men are shown approaching on Barrington St. (near George St., near left), under a Welcome Arch beside St. Paul's Anglican Church, built in 1750. In 1787 it was honoured with status as a cathedral (kept till 1865), the first in the British Empire outside Britain. Its walls display a rare treasury of scores of bronze and plaster military memorial plaques that go back to the 18th century, including one from the Boer War below.

Flagpoles were set up along the cement fence posts that still line the park behind them.

The Paardeberg Welcome Arch was built over the gate right, into the Grand Parade, a public square in Halifax that has seen military demonstrations since the city was founded in 1749.

This flag also, shows only five provinces. By 1900 the crest was supposed to feature seven Canadian provinces.

With the creation of two new provinces, Alberta and Saskatchewan, in 1905, the crest changed to show nine emblems on flags after that date. This can be a useful aid in sometimes dating plates and jugs that bear the Canadian coat-of-arms.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Canadian Display Flag, 1887
Orig. cotton - Size - 51 x 92 cm
Found - Kitchener, ON
Cotton printed flag
In 1887, this flag travelled to Britain with a young girl from Thorold, Ontario, bound via New York to attend the Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations in London. It still has the tack marks where she attached it to a stick so she could wave it high above the crowds as the Queen's carriage drove by. "Look, Mum," one can hear her shout, "I'm from Canada, I am!"
The flags above all have crests for five Canadian provinces, starting top left in clockwise order, Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, which comprised Canada for the three years from 1867 to 1870. Prince Edward Island joined Confederation in 1871, and British Columbia in 1873. Neither of their crests appear on the flag..

But that is no proof these flags were made before 1871, at all. Manufacturers of display flags were notoriously lazy at changing their printing masters for flags. We have seen this same 1870 cartouche used on flags made for the Royal Visit of 1901 - see below - thirty years after it should have been updated with two extra provinces!

Here is a good example of where the portraits on display flags came from. Right, a Bassano photo issued as a CDV for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, in 1887, obviously served as the inspiration for the artist who mocked up the flag portrait.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Victorian Canadian Flag - 1867-1870
Orig. flag - Size - 90 cm x 1.33 m
Found - Cookstown, ON
Cotton printed flag featuring Dominion of Canada coat of arms
The Red Ensign - Well Sort of... Left a fabulous, genuine antique, Victorian display flag that was designed to be flown from a flag pole. Far larger than the decorative cotton flags to be featured below, this was not meant for a stick, or designed to be draped with a string from a window ledge, as the parade roused its way along down below.

But it is not an official flag; the rendering of the Union Jack is highly imaginary, to say the least. In fact all the Union Jacks below are mostly poetic creations of a flag even school children have problems drawing correctly.

Below, the Victorian crown and the crests of 5 Canadian provinces that made up Canada from 1867-1870 (clockwise from top left, Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick..)

It is common, today, to find wildly misspelled words on souvenir items made in China, by assembly line workers not remotely familiar with the English language. But this is definitely an antique, not from China; the rust marks, the faded colours, the age burn generally, all combine to firmly date this flag to the 1880s or 90s, when work of this quality was actually made right here in Canada by newly arrived immigrants from mainland Europe, with hardly any schooling, certainly not in the English language, or knowledge of the flag of their newly adopted country.

The quality control officer was probably an Irishman, and closet Fenian...

The fabric is tough and thick cotton; the tack - that's the flag border traditionally nailed to the flagpole, for you non-sailor types - is reinforced with heavy canvas and two metal grommets.

This flag is also huge, the biggest of its type we've seen, at 1.3 m long. It is strongly printed on both sides. The clew - that's the other end - is reinforced with threat to prevent fraying in the wind...

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Union Jack
Orig. flag -
Found - Milton, ON
The Union Jack is probably the most wonderful flag ever conceived by man. It is artistic, colourful, and arrestingly designed, summarizes an amazing historical heritage, and is instantly identifiable from a mile or more away. The ultimate counterfeit proof flag! There is not a person in Great Britain that can correctly draw this flag from memory. Why not try it yourself, without looking...

Below we will prove, conclusively, that no Canadian, living or dead, was up to the task, either, as they came up with one wild variation after another, on Victorian and Edwardian patriotic flags, which were supposed to be put on public display on important days of national celebration.

The finest flag ever created by man or God, the British Union Jack, was, for most of its settled history, the flag of Canada, even after it became an independent nation in 1867.

In 1892, the Red Ensign became the flag of the Canadian merchant navy, and slowly, also became a sort of flag Canadians used, on occasion, to differentiate themselves from those who owed fealty to the Union Jack.

It was these Red Ensigns, incorporating a reduced Union Jack, and sporting a crest of various provinces, that people displayed on patriotic occasions, or under which Canadians fought, and died, in World Wars I and II.

In 1924, the Red Ensign received further official recognition when the Canadian Government declared it the proper flag to fly on its embassies overseas. After 1945 it was flown on Canadian Government buildings in Canada as well.

In 1965, the Red Ensign, despite the howl of thousands of veterans - because it was consecrated in the blood of scores of thousands of Canadian war dead - was replaced by an entirely new flag, the politically correct, Red Maple Leaf flag of today to appease the large French population of Canada with a banner less tied to the British ethnic majority.

But the Union Jack and the Red Ensign, both, still flutter proudly in the hearts of countless Canadians, and at not a few summer cottages...

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Queen Victoria, Golden Jubilee 1887
Orig. CDV- Size - 12 x 16 cm
Found - Grimsby, ON
Photo by Bassano, 1887
There are lots more Queen Victoria display flags, but one thing remains true: there isn't one decent Union Jack among the lot.

The Flags of Pretoria Day - Toronto, Canada, June 5, 1900

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Canadian Hand Display Flag, 1867-1870
Orig. cotton - Size - 22 x 34 cm
Found - Ballantrae, ON
Cotton printed flag
Two small, but fabulous, Victorian children's hand display flags. For those who were down where the action was, when the troops marched by - and children were in the forefront of the cheering throngs - these hand held flags were wildly waved about, to attract the attention of the grinning soldiers. Sadly only a few have survived the hundred years since then. But these show clearly, that the Red Ensign, and the Union Jack, were neck and neck in popularity.

This flag is made of very thin, gauze like material, that is almost transparent, and is tied with thread to a reed like twig.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Canadian Lapel Display Flag, 1867-1902
Orig. silk - Size - 7 x 15 cm
Found - Ballantrae, ON
Silk printed flag
A tiny silk charmer, on a metal wire, tipped by a metal acorn - Hearts of Oak, remember... Similar ones can be seen on many a lapel or hat band, below.
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Doulton Lambeth Pitcher, Celebration of the Hoisting of the Flag at Pretoria - Jun, 5, 1900
Ceramic jug 1900 - Size - 21 cm
Found - Toronto, ON
Signed Doulton Lambeth
This jug is witness to the passing of a historic practice thousands of years old: the waving of flags by heroic soldiers on battlefields. The accuracy of the modern rifle meant instant death to anyone foolish enough do it so during the Boer War flags were relegated only to jugs, parades, and buildings.

Pretoria Day, June 5, 1900
Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario

What a display of flags in celebration of the day Canadian troops, as units in the British Army, under the command of Lord Roberts, entered Pretoria, the enemy capital of the Boers, which everyone said would end the war, just like catching Saddam Hussein was supposed to do in our day...

One gets a marvellous peek at the many ways flags were displayed: on long sticks, on pins in hats, and lapels - four of the five men, above right wear them this way - on handle bars of bicycles, on the roof of the tram, and hanging off the buildings.

There are flags of every size; hundreds must be the tiny lapel flags; monster Red Ensigns fly from high windows. On the right, above them all is a Union Jack with a central portrait cameo, like the ones we illustrate below. This one probably has a picture of Queen Victoria; more likely the Duke and Duchess of York, who plan to visit Canada next summer.

Young and old wear the flags, men even more so than women... Probably the Union Jacks predominate; most of these people are Brits - the rest wish they were - full of loyalty to the British Empire and the flag that flew over it and the defeated Boers. But there are lots of Canadian Red Ensigns too...

This was a time in Canadian history when people were flag mad... like the Americans still are today. Hence the most marvellous jug was created to commemorate this day and The Hoisting of the Flag at Pretoria - the Union Jack of course - on top of the Parliament in the capital of the Transvaal Boers.

Today, with growing maturity, Canadians are more circumspect with their patriotism. They practice it seriously, but with quiet dignity, in their hearts... Their flags too, are displayed with restraint. Not at all with the bellicose belligerence of the Americans, with The Flags of Their Fathers, fluttering all over the place at home, while overseas, The Bombs of their Band of Brothers, flutter down everywhere else...

Another very serious way that Canadians are totally different from Americans.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Pin Tray, Col. William Otter, 1900
Orig pin tray - Size - 7 x 10 cm
Found - Pottageville, ON
MPD - Clearly not having agreed on a proper national flag created headaches not only on parade days - Now what shall I wave about today? - but also for the memorabilia designers. How will I maximize sales by offending as few people as possible by not putting in the wrong flag?

Left, the fabulously rare pin tray of Colonel Otter, from 1900 - he led the Canadians into Pretoria that day - shows one solution: surround him with a sort of Red Ensign, where the Union Jack is prominent, and the Canada cartouche strategically covered up. British loyalists would be proud; Canadian nationalists imagined they could see the Red Ensign... A creative solution for a problem that would not go away, any time soon.

Postcard manufacturers had other solutions. For the Coronation of 1911, they displayed both flags in equal size, giving the Red Ensign the honoured top spot below left.

But hey... what's this! Prime Minister Laurier and another flag? The Yugoslavian flag? Russia? No, wait, the stripes go the other way... This is the French flag.. For a Canadian Prime Minister? Who would be pleased with that? Laurier probably was not, in fact he chose to spend eternity on English Canadian soil - his grave is in Ottawa - unlike a recent Separatist Premier of Quebec who rushed his wife, in the midst of her labour, across the bridge to French Canadian soil, so his first child - with an American stewardess, no less - would be born amid the strip clubs of Hull, Quebec.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Postcard, King George V & Alexandra, 1911
Orig postcard - Size - 9 x 14 cm
Found - Montreal, PQ

More than a few French-Canadians - especially a growing vocal group - would have been mighty pleased with this card.

But now a Canadian school child had to wave three flags... Enough to give rise to MPD - multiple-personality-disorder... Maybe it's high time to come up with one flag that suits everybody?

It would take Canadians another 54 years...

And then the flag they chose would not have the faintest resemblance to any of these... The premise being that it was probably better to let bygones be bygones and dedicate yourself to the future.

The statue - by Philippe Hébert - to Maisonneuve who founded Montreal in 1642 left is a fabulous work whose pedestal can be just made out on the left of the card right, in front of Église Notre Dame, where Céline Dion married, you know, that old guy...

Céline, you know, that singer in Vegas... Yeah, she was born in Quebec, that's why she got married here. You didn't know she was a Canadian for heaven's sake...

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Postcard, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, 1911
Orig postcard - Size - 9 x 14 cm
Found - Montreal, PQ
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Lapel Flag, Duke of Connaught, 1911
Orig. celluloid - Size - 35 mm w
Found - Leesburg, VA
The smallest Boer War era commemorative flag we have come across is this tiny gem of what an American dealer called unknown general.

It is, of course, Prince Arthur, the Duke of Connaught, who was Queen Victoria's son, and Governor-General of Canada from 1911 to 1916.

His daughter became Colonel-in-Chief of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

This flag was designed to be worn on the lapel, and is in mint shape.

It is made out of celluloid, the same plastic type material used for making pinbacks at the time, and was manufactured and handed out in Toronto, Ontario, Canada by a chain of cigar stores. And no one saw anything odd for putting the Governor-General of Canada on a British Union Jack. It would be a long time before non-Anglo-Saxon immigrants could make their presence felt to define a multicultural identity under a unique Canadian flag.

From smallest to the largest memorabilia item produced to commemorate the Duke's stay in Canada.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Toleware, The Duke & Duchess of Connaught c 1911
Orig. toleware - Size - 34 x 41 cm
Found - Barrie, ON

Duke & Duchess of York Flags & Banners - 1893-1902

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Duke & Duchess of York Marriage Flag - 1893
Orig. flag - Size - 56 x 66 cm
Found - Whitchurch, UK
Cotton printed flag celebrating the marriage of the future King George V & Queen Mary (to be crowned 1911)
Display Flags & Banners: Of course just because flags were no longer found on the battlefield, flags for display at home were never more popular, whether in the UK, Australia, or Canada. Whenever a new regiment marched to the docks, or returned from the wars, huge parades were called for. To show their support people needed things to display, wave, and pin on their buildings, and drape from their balconies, as the troops marched by.

Some of the best of this kind of Boer War era display flags are featured here.

The Royal Marriage of 1893: The marriage of Prince George to Princess Mary of Teck was the high point of the social calendar in the early 1890s. George, and Princess Mary - who would later be renamed after the ocean liner - were not the Prince and Princess of Wales, yet. George's father, the aging Edward still held the post he had held for almost fifty years.

Royal Tour of Canada 1901: During the Boer War George and Mary visited Canada. This fabulous and rare flag was made to celebrate the occasion and probably flew from a balcony as the Royal Couple drove by below.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Duke & Duchess of York Canadian Tour Flag - 1901
Orig. flag - Size - 51 x 84 cm
Found - Ottawa, ON
Cotton printed flag celebrating the Royal Tour of Can
ada by the future King George V & Queen Mary (to be crowned 1911)
Of course both Union Jacks are an embarrassment in flag design. The one top, besides flouting Union Jack proportions, has the heavy white spokes going the wrong way; the one above, has a disproportionately narrow red cross and improperly sized white spokes.

Left, the Duke and Duchess of York, were crowned George V and Queen Mary in 1911.

Canadian Boer War Commemorative Flags & Banners - 1900-1902

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Canadian Boer War Display Flag, 1899
Orig. cotton - Size - 54.5 x 85 cm
Found - Nyack, NY
Cotton printed flag
Fabulous Canadian Boer War Display Flag

Flags made specifically for Canadian use during the Boer War are very rare to find. Canadians were using British flags more often than not to display during parades or holidays.

That's why this one, featuring Canada's shield containing the crests of the five provinces as of 1870, is so special.

The upper cameo shows the Boer War dress of Canada's First Contingent which went to South Africa in October, 1899.

It is conceivable that this flag was readied in time to wave it in Toronto, Montreal, or Quebec, all places the volunteers were entertained with speeches and dinners before they set sail on the Sardinian.

More likely this flag took note of the dashing Canadian triumph at Paardeberg, in February, 1900, and was made to wave on their return that November.

This flag is in mint shape, and has been lovingly preserved in some drawer.

Left is a flag featuring Col. William Otter, the Canadian commander of the First Contingent.

The colours are badly faded, especially the portrait. There are many stains, rips and holes. It is easily the most badly preserved flag of any on this page.

This flag has been digitally enhanced to show it off, more like it once looked.

Still the antique dealer who has it demands a small fortune for it. As is the case with so many wildly overpriced antique items, it is the owner's estate which will inherit it by default.

It has a fine Union Jack design while Bobs below has the heavy spokes going the wrong way.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Boer War Display Flag (Lord Roberts VC) - 1900
Orig. flag - Size - 70 x 73 cm
Found - Harrogate, UK
Cotton printed flag featuring Lord Roberts and his victories

Pretoria - Bobs: The Boer War, which broke out in 1899, made Lord Roberts, the British Commander-in-Chief in South Africa, a household word, and that word was "Bobs."

Left, is a large flag featuring a portrait of the general supposedly surrounded by the battle victories he had rolled up in his year as director of the war in South Africa. But the flag makers got more than the Union Jack wrong; Bobs is wrongly labelled with Colenso, a huge British defeat, as well as Belmont, and Elandslaagte, when he had no involvement in the war in South Africa at all. Bobs would not have been pleased with this flag at all...

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Boer War Display Flag (Bobs) - 1900
Orig. flag - Size - 56 x 66 cm
Found - Bristol, UK
Cotton printed flag featuring Bobs, Lord Roberts

Bobs - The Union Jack left, featured "Bobs" pointing his sword to Pretoria.

The popular consensus was that once the capital of the Boers fell, they would be finished. Pretoria fell and Bobs came home, leaving Kitchener to do the "clean up." It would take him another year and a half, long enough to get his own image on a souvenir flag below.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Boer War Display Flag (Lord Kitchener) - 1900
Orig. flag - Size - 56 x 66 cm
Found - Whitby, UK
Cotton printed flag featuring Lord Kitchener & the Victoria Crown
Above, in an artistic flight of fancy - home-based war artists are always behind the times about what's really going on in the battlefield - Bobs wields a sword in a most un-Boer War-like manner. "There they are lads; Go get em." It's enough to make any red-blooded Englishman burst his britches with, well pride I guess..

Flags such as these, might be tacked onto sticks and waved wildly about, and then taken inside and pinned for display on walls in parlours, schools, or bars - where they were sure to roil up the blood of teenage recruits for the army. (Pin holes in corners often betray the life history of these items.)

Or they might be taken by children to wave about as they played at war "Just like Daddy was doing in South Africa to those nasty Boers."

Many of these Boer War banners and flags have been lost; those that survive are tatty and torn. That is why those shown here are so special. Some have only pin holes and all retain their original colour. All show the sentiment that animated a generation of Canadians mobilized for imperial war in Africa and Asia during the 19th century.

King Edward VII & Queen Alexandra Flags & Banners - 1902-1910

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Display Banner, King Edward VII & Queen Alexandra - 1902
Orig. flag - Size - 50 x 71 cm
Found - Salisbury Center, NY
Featuring tiny 16 x 25 cm Union Jack sewn on
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Display Banner, King Edward VII - 1902
Orig. flag - Size - 48 x 61 cm
Found - Dunmow, UK
Cotton printed flag featuring Edward VII
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Display Banner, King Edward VII & Queen Alexandra - 1902
Orig. flag - Size - 72 x 88 cm
Found - Newcastle, UK
Cotton printed flag featuring the Edwardian Crown
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Boer War Display Banner (King Edward VII) - 1902
Orig. flag - Size - 84 x 92 cm
Found - Whitby, UK
Cotton printed flag featuring Edward VII & the Victoria Crown

"My Kingdom for a Peace" - With Edward, you had to get it in writing, to make sure you understood which of his passionate interests he was referring to. But Edward's eagerness for peace during the Boer War was well known; he refused to be crowned until this seemingly impossibly objective could be obtained.

With the return of peace, finally, in May 1902, the populace could turn away from their preoccupation with generals and return to their favourite diversion - royalty.

Left, is possibly the most magnificent display banner ever produced. It featured King Edward who came to the throne looking and feeling old, having been Prince of Wales for 61 years.

Edward VII was crowned on August 9, 1902, just a few months after the Boer War ended.

Edward had been perked up of late, by Mrs. Alice Keppel a married woman he had courted since just before the war started. Her husband - like Andrew Parker Bowles of recent memory - was one of those patriots, periodically thrown up by British high society in times of crisis, who are called upon to lay down his wife for the good of the country.

Everyone was glad the war was over so they could, once more, get back to life's normal preoccupations.

Edward was no exception in wasting no time in getting back to the real affairs of state.

And Peace descended over the South African veldt.

The warring armies could return home. Everyone, including the British lion, left, could, for now, get some sleep.

Everyone except Mrs. Keppel...

The Edward VII banner is especially amazing. It is huge and preserves its original rich colours. It may have adorned the wall of a regimental mess, a town's council chamber, or a public library reading room.

The royal motto it displayed - Evil to those who wish us ill - summarized the British view of the Boer War - that the Boers got what was coming to them. They were defeated, their Republics dismantled, and their impudent flags taken down and burned.

Or, like the Boer Republic Trophy flag of Canadian Agar Adamson, brought home in triumph and displayed as a prize of war from a vanquished enemy.

Go to Go to Victorian Flags Intro
Go to Agar Adamson's Boer Trophy Flag
Copyright Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996-1999-2005