This page is part of © FOTW Flags Of The World website

Canadian Flag Etiquette

Last modified: 2017-12-30 by rob raeside
Keywords: canada | flag etiquette: canada | protocol: canada |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors

See also:

Canadian Flag Etiquette

There is a great listing of official Canadian rules on the Maple Leaf Flag (aka 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 (ie 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 cose 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

Vertical display

[Vertical display of the Canadian flag] image by António Martins, adapted by Phil Nelson

[Vertical display of the Canadian flag] image by António Martins-Tuválkin and Martin Grieve, 26 November 2017

Using the template from, here is a vertical flag with slanted lines at 45° that meet the edges at the midpoint of the longer sides; the maple leaf has the same size as the one on the regular flag when their shorter sides are identical. The ratio is 7:20 or 9:28 (more exactly: 3.5′×10′ or 4.5′×14′…).
António Martins-Tuválkin, 26 November 2017

Protocol Order of Provincial/Territorial Flags

The following shows the display of the Canadian flag when displayed with provincial and territorial flags.

Single Line
[single line display]

Double line
[double line display]

V-shaped display
[V-shaped display of Canadian flags]

Key to Numbering

  1. National Flag (Canada)
  2. Ontario (1867)
  3. Quebec (1867)
  4. Nova Scotia (1867)
  5. New Brunswick (1867)
  6. Manitoba (1870)
  7. British Columbia (1871)
  8. Prince Edward Island (1873)
  9. Saskatchewan (1905)
  10. Alberta (1905)
  11. Newfoundland (1949)
  12. Northwest Territories (1870)
  13. Yukon Territory (1898)
  14. Nunavut (1999)

Following the national flag, provincial flags are displayed in order of the date joining the confederation, followed by territories.

Vertical Banners

[Canadian vertical banner]
by André Coutanche

Over Christmas/New Year I was in Angers in western France. In the main square, the Place du Ralliement, Canadian flags were flying from the Nouvelles Galeries and other shops, though I don't know what the occasion was (and strangely, they *were* Canadian, with not a Québec flag in sight).

However, there were also vertical banners. I suppose you could argue that these weren't flags, but decorations with a Canadian theme. I just wonder whether someone didn't know the convention, or whether the rules have changed or aren't that strict.
André Coutanche, 6 January 2001

Construction Sheet

Canadian Construction sheet located at:

Color specifications:

Flag disposal

The Royal Canadian Navy personnel regularly turned tattered and faded ensigns and jacks into polishing rags until at least some time in the 1970s or 1980s when the present flag disposal regulations based on the US model were adopted by the federal government.
Michael Halleran, 11 February 2013