Flag Day

Did you know today is flag day in Canada?

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This day 53 years ago, Canada got its own flag. I’m proud to say that my own grandfather, George Bist, was one of the most valuable critics of “Pearson’s pennant,” described by Member of Parliament John Ross Matheson in his 1980 book Canada’s Flag: A Search for a Country.

During the 1964 flag debate, my grandfather, his wife and children circulated the above design (which he later incorporated into his testimony leaflet). The idea was why do with three leafs, as Lester B. Pearson proposed, what you can do with one? This was a basic design and management principle that my grandfather articulated. The centre leaf’s design is slightly different than our current flag, and the two blue borders represent the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.

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A World War II vet, my grandfather viewed the design he submitted of the Canada flag to be his most valuable contribution to our country. And he made no money off of it. Bist was originally from Montreal, and moved his family to north Toronto in the mid-1950’s to take a job as a graphic designer. He had started working at age 13 in lithography, the family trade, sweeping floors and then moving on to Morgan’s and Eaton’s to draw pictures in their catalogues. Soon after moving to Toronto, he was a very successful freelancer who designed notable packaging for firms like Sealtest, Post, O’Keefe Brewing and McCain’s. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, with continuous innovations in the way of plastics and chemicals, fresh food was easily and attractively accessible in the local supermarket. There were no computers or Adobe InDesign or Photoshop. These designs were drawn by artists like my grandfather, by hand.

Later in life, when he became a Christian, my grandfather took his same gusto and enthusiasm to matters of faith. As an active Gideon, he gave out many a Bible on busy Toronto street corners with his church friends. I, too, have become a Gideon member as of 2015.

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