As Canada Day 2016 approached and I was in my backyard practicing photography in the evening light, I started wondering about the maple leaf and how exactly it became the most widely recognized symbol of this country.
In 1834, at the inaugural meeting of the Societe Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Montreal’s first mayor, Jacques Viger, called the maple leaf, “The king of our forest;…the symbol of the Canadian people”.
After this, the maple leaf slowly became used more and more as a symbol of Canada. The golden leaf was often used to represent Ontario, and the green leaf was often used to represent Quebec.
It wasn’t until the maple leaf was incorporated into the national flag in 1965, that it was officially cemented as the central national symbol. The maple leaf represented on the national flag is a generic, stylized version, with 11 points and does not to represent any specific type of maple tree, of which 10 species grow naturally in Canada.
As I examined the trees around my neighbourhood, I saw several types of maple trees, including red, silver and Norway maple. I noticed that no two maple leaves were exactly alike. The choice of the maple leaf as a national symbol seems therefore rather appropriate, given our rich history as a country of immigrants. Just as no two maple leaves are the same, no two Canadians are the same, either. We are all as unique as the symbol that represents us.
Here is my photo exploration of the maple leaf, as a symbol of our Canadian culture.