Celebrating the Canadian flag's 50th birthday

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Two area patriots recently travelled to Toronto to celebrate the Canadian flag by becoming part of it.

Ernest W. Lamb and EJ Small of Springfield were amongst 2,015 people that took part in a living Canadian flag for the symbol’s 50th anniversary.

The Canadian flag celebrated its 50th anniversary on Sunday, Feb. 15, and in honour of the event, the Hon. Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, invited 2,015 people from across Ontario to form a living creation of the flag on Friday, Feb. 13. All in attendance donned red shirts and huddled together to form the iconic red bars and maple leaf.

The big event took place on centre ice of the Mattamy Athletic Centre (Maple Leaf Gardens). Photographer Edward Burtynsky captured the photo for the history books from the catwalk high above the ice. The formal print will hang in the Lieutenant Governor’s office and there may a large format version used in the upcoming celebrations of the 150th of Canada in 2017.

Lamb was sought out by many photographers and interviewed several times, partially due to his age (in his 95th year) and for his red hat and striking white beard. Both were probable factors that led to his being asked to stand on the stem of the maple leaf with the likes of Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Adrienne Clarkson, and 'Hurricane' Hazel McCallion.

“As we were assembling for the photograph the organizers told us that the stem was reserved for dignitaries, so it was quite an honour to be pulled out of the crowds to be placed there," said Lamb.

During World War II, Lamb served in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He dutifully served the country, but remarked that "we did not have a true national flag at that time – instead we flew the Canadian Red Ensign, a variant of the Union Jack."

Small was born the year the new flag that would replace the Candian Red Ensign (1965).

“I have enjoyed reading about the exciting process that determined the winning flag design” said Small. “But to be actively celebrating the 50th anniversary of it, and representing Ontario as a part of the Canadian flag, that is really exciting. Ernest and I have become a part of Canadian history.”

After the ceremonies ended, as Lamb was being interviewed while the clean-up crew began to dismantle the red carpet from the ice surface, Small approached the team and asked if the carpet sections were going to be disposed of. They said yes, so Lamb asked if he could have the stem section, and they were happy to hand it over.

“We now have our very own red carpet,” said Small, “and it is one with a bit of historic significance.”

The photograph can be viewed at http://arts.lgontario.ca/flag/, and there is a magnification tool that will allows you to see faces up close.

For an online time lapse video of the event go to: http://arts.lgontario.ca/flag/about/.

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