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Newfoundland Flags

The first flag in North America may well
have been the Newfoundland Flag.

The flag was flown in L'Anse aux Meadows and was the Viking Vinland, which may have been "a triangular flag with a cross, depicting a raven with wings spread in upward flight." (ENL)

The first English flag was carried by John Cabot - a red cross on a white background. In the 17th century, the French flew the flag of Joan of Arc, over Placentia and St. John's.

The Union Jack

Under British domination the Union Flag or Union Jack was adopted as Newfoundland's flag which was not officially adopted by the Newfoundland Legislature until 1931.

Union Jack


The original Union Jack was designed when Scotland and England were united in 1606 and the flag represented both countries. The Scottish flag consisted of a white saltire of St. Andrew on a blue background. In the Union Jack this was superimposed by the cross of St. George. The consequent union with Ireland meant an additional cross of red was added to the flag. Hence, we have the "red, white and blue" Union Flag or Union Jack.

Newfoundland Heritage/The Red Ensign

Newfoundland Heritage/The red ensign has the Union Jack in the upper cormer and the badge on the fly. This flag was used to distinguish ships of the British Fleet. It was flown in Newfoundland until 1965.

According to the ``Brief Regarding the Proposal of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador For a Distinctive Provincial Flag'' (1977)
``The ensigns were described by Order in Council 18, October 1865. The White Ensign ... a white flag with a cross of St. Geroge [sic] through the whole flag and the Union Jack in the upper canton, to be used ONLY by ships of the ROYAL NAVY or by yacht clubs to which special license has been given. The BLUE ENSIGN ... a blue flag, with the Union Jack in the upper canton, to be used ONLY by ships of the ROYAL NAVY RESERVE, or by merchant men which are commanded by officers of the Reserve, and have been duly licensed, or by yacht clubs to which special commission had been granted. The RED ENSIGN ... a red flag, with the Union Jack in the upper canton, to be used as a NATIONAL ENSIGN by all British merchantmen. The Red Ensign is the common flag of all people of the British Isles ashore or afloat. It was given to the merchant men in recognition of their great services in winning for Britain supremacy of the seas. The White Ensign was given to the Royal Navy in recognition and Memory of Trafalgar where it was Nelson's flag. The Blue Ensign was given to the Royal Navy Reserve because they were the rear guards of Queen Victoria's ships. The Union Jack was used on all three as the binding link between them and established their rank and designation as Union Ensigns'' (p. 8).
The Pink, White and Green Flag, ("Native Flag")

Native Newfoundland Flag


The pink, white and green flag, known as the native flag, developed from the merging of flags flown by two rival groups in the 1800s: the so-called "natives," a group which was composed of well-established citizens of St. John's who were largely Roman Catholic; and a large group of newly arrived immigrants from Ireland.(ENL)

According to Devine and O'Mara (1900, p. 121)
the culminating point was reached in February,1843, during a big haul of wood for Bishop Fleming. There was considerable rivalry for the biggest load, and each slide bore distinctive colors. The 'Bush-borns' and 'Old Country' people had a difference of opinion as to which had the larger load, and a row, in which a good many heads were broken, ensued. When Bishop Fleming heard of the circumstance, he called the ringleaders together, gave them a bit of advice, and induced them to join the pink and green together. This they did by sticking a bit of neutral white between, and thus was born the native flag as we have it to-day. A few of the founders stuck to the plain pink for two or three years;...

The following song written by Archbishop Howley about the Tricolor became, according to P.K. Devine, a kind of national anthem.

THE FLAG OF NEWFOUNDLAND
The pink, the rose of England shows,
The green St. Patrick's emblem, bright
While in between, the spotless sheen
of St. Andrew's Cross displays the white.
Then hail; the pink, the white, the green,
Our patriot flag' long may it stand.
Our sirelands twine, their emblems trine,
To form the flag of Newfoundland!
Fling out the flag, o'er creek and cragg,
Pink, white and green, so fair, so grand.
Long may it sway o'er bight and bay,
Around the shores of Newfoundland!
What'er betide, out ``Ocean Bride''
That nestles 'midst Atlantic's foam
Still far and wide, we'll raise with pride
Our native flag, o'er hearth and home.
Should e'er the hand of fate demand
Some future change in our career:
We ne'er will yield: on flood or field
The flag we honor and revere!
Fling out the flag, o'er creek and cragg,
Pink, white and green, so fair, so grand.
Long may it sway, o'er bight and bay,
Around the shores of Newfoundland!



The Provincial Flag of Newfoundland and Labrador

The Provincial Flag of Newfoundland and Labrador


In the 1970s members of the public demanded a distinctive provincial flag. There was a heated public debate, with some politicians in favour of the Tricolor flag while others argued for the Union Jack. In response, Brian Peckford announced that a committee to investigate the adoption of a new flag would be set up. Christopher Pratt was chosen to submit a design and from 6 that he submitted the Newfoundland Flag that is flown today was chosen. On June 25, 1980 the flag was publicly raised on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, and in front of the Newfoundland Confederation Building. The new flag was officially described thus:
``In this flag, the primary colours of Red, Gold and Blue are placed against a background of White to allow the design to stand out clearly. White is representative of snow and ice; Blue represents the Sea; Red represents human effort and Gold our confidence in ourselves.

``The Blue section, most reminiscent of the Union Jack, represents our Commonwealth heritage which has so decisively shaped our present. The Red and Gold section, larger than the other, represents our future. The two triangles outlined in red portray the mainland and island parts of our province reaching forward together. A golden arrow points the way to what we believe will be a bright future.

``But the design of the flag encompasses much more symbolism than this. For example, the Christian Cross, the Beothuck and Naskapi ornamentation, the outline of the Maple Leaf in the centre of the flag, a triumphant figure and our place in the space age. The image of a trident stands out. This is to emphasize our continued dependence on the fishery and the resources of the sea. Hung as a banner, the arrow assumes the aspect of a sword which is to remind us of the sacrifice of our War Veterans.

``Since the whole flag resembles a Beothuck pendant as well as all of the above, the design takes us from our earliest beginnings and points us confidently forward. It, therefore, mirrors our past, present and future.'' ("Report of Select Committee to Enquire into and to Hear Evidence on all Matters Relating to the Adoption of a Flag for the Province and to Recommend a Special DesignTherefore": 1980).

tidespoint.com features the following flags available for purchase:

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