Flag of Newfoundland and Labrador

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Flag of Newfoundland and Labrador
Flag of Newfoundland and Labrador.svg
UseCivil and state flag
AdoptedJune 6, 1980
Designed byChristopher Pratt

The Flag of Newfoundland and Labrador was introduced in 1980 and was designed by Newfoundland artist Christopher Pratt. The flag design was approved by the House of Assembly of the province of Newfoundland, Canada, on May 28, 1980. It was flown for the first time on Discovery Day, June 24, 1980. The name of the province was changed to Newfoundland and Labrador by an amendment to the constitution in 2001. This was at the request of the provincial legislature.

The design was chosen due to its broad symbolism. The blue (pantone 2955C) represents the waters of the sea, lakes and rivers; the white represents snow and ice; the red (pantone 200C) represents human effort, and the gold (pantone 137C) symbolizes the confidence the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have in themselves and for the future.

The flag design is that of Beothuk and Innu decorative pendants worn hung from a cord around the neck. Pratt viewed these at the Provincial Museum. With the blue, red and white colours applied the design has an intentional overall resemblance to the Union Jack, as a reminder of British Isles heritage and historic connections. The two red (pantone 200C) triangles represent the two areas of the province, the continental region (Labrador) and the island region (Newfoundland). The gold (pantone 137C) arrow, according to Pratt, points towards a "brighter future"; the arrow becomes a sword, honouring the sacrifices of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in military service when the flag is displayed as a vertical banner. The red triangles and the gold arrow form a trident, symbolizing the province's association with the fisheries and other resources of and under the sea.[1]

Newfoundland ensigns[edit]

IFIS Historical.svg FIAV 000100.svg Red Ensign
IFIS Historical.svg FIAV 000010.svg Blue Ensign

The Red Ensign was officially endorsed by King Charles II in 1674; this authorisation recognised it as the ensign of English merchant shipping. Later, during the Victorian era, the flag—with colonial badge—formed the basis as the Colony of Newfoundland's civil ensign. Old oil paintings show red ensigns flying from the topmasts of Grand Banks schooners. While 19th century photographs show red ensigns flown at Moravian mission stations and Hudson's Bay Company trading posts along the Labrador Coast.

In 1904, the British Parliament designated a civil ensign specifically for Newfoundland. The Red and Blue Ensigns with the Great Seal of Newfoundland in the fly were the dominion's official flags from 1904 until 1931, after which the Union Jack was adopted as Newfoundland's official national flag and the ensigns reserved for shipping and marine identification—the Red Ensign to be flown by merchant shipping while the blue was flown by governmental ships.[2] Neither ensign was immediately formally adopted by the Newfoundland National Assembly, which sat at the Colonial Building in St. John's, when Newfoundland became an independent Dominion of the British Empire in 1907. It was not until the Newfoundland National Flag Act of 1931 that the Newfoundland parliament officially adopted the Union Jack as the national flag of Newfoundland and re-affirmed the red and blue ensigns as official flags for marine identification. Between 1907 and 1931, however, the red ensign gained wide enough use, both at sea and on land by civilians and government alike, that it was considered to be the national flag.[3]

The badge in the ensigns consists of Mercury, the god of commerce and merchandise, presenting to Britannia a fisherman who, in a kneeling attitude, is offering the harvest of all the sea. Above the device in a scroll are the Latin words 'Terra Nova', and below the motto Hæc Tibi Dona Fero or "These gifts I bring thee." The seal was redesigned by Adelaine Lane, niece of Governor Sir Cavendish Boyle.

Union Flag[edit]

Union Flag

The old flag of Newfoundland was the Union Flag. It was legally adopted in 1931 and used as Newfoundland's national flag until confederation with Canada in 1949. It was then readopted as the official provincial flag in 1952 and used officially until 1980. The Newfoundland and Labrador branches of the Royal Canadian Legion to this day display the Union Flag as an official flag, along with the current provincial or national (Canadian) flags.

Newfoundland Tricolour[edit]

The SOSA Flag, The Pink, White & Green (sic)

The flag commonly but mistakenly presented as the "Newfoundland Tricolour", the Pink, White and Green" (sic) is the flag of the Roman Catholic fraternal organization the Star of the Sea Association (SOSA) established in St. John's in 1871. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is known as the Star of the Sea. The flag has the proportions 1:2 with each vertical section occupying one third of the flag length. It exists in Canadian heraldry; its colours are present in the flag of the St. John's Fire Department and in the municipal flag of Paradise, Newfoundland and Labrador. It also appears on the crests or escutcheons of some armorial bearings portrayed in the Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada. The true Newfoundland tricolour is the Red (at the hoist), White (centre) and Green (on the fly) tricolour flag of the Newfoundland Natives' Society (NNS) which was established in St. John's in 1840 with subsequent branches in other locations. The Natives' Society was established to help native-born and other long-time residents of Newfoundland in dealings with colonial government officials, big business owners who were not always residents and the many new comers to the colony who considered themselves to be much higher in social standing than the locals.

The origins of the "Pink, White and Green"(sic) were obscure but recent scholarship has determined it was first used in the late 1870s or early 1880s by the Roman Catholic fraternal organization the Star of the Sea Association. In the Catholic Church, Mary, the mother of Jesus, is known as the "Star of the Sea" (in Latin "Stella Maris") The flag became more widely used by other St. John's and surrounding area Catholic groups shortly thereafter.[4] Given that, it was likely based on the similar flag of Ireland (then also unofficial). It is also said that the current Republic of Ireland flag is actually based on the Pink, White and Green(sic) tricolour but the Irish tricolour was in use long before 1871. Newspaper reports indicate a "native flag" was displayed in public ceremonies alongside the Union Jack when the Prince of Wales visited St. John's in 1860, but that was the true "Native Flag of Red, White and Green" rather than the "Pink, White and Green"(sic) since the Star of the Sea Association did not exist until 1871. The green-white-pink tricolour flag was dismissed as a potential official flag when the British Parliament legislated a civil ensign for Newfoundland in 1904, which was a Red Ensign defaced with the Great Seal of Newfoundland.The great seal was used rather than the shield from the coat of arms since the coat of arms had been forgotten and its use was only reinstated after the First World War for use on graves in Europe. The coat of arms has been in use since. During the provincial flag debates of the 1970s an edition of the Roman Catholic archdiocese's newsletter "The Monitor" revived the idea that the flag is symbolic of a tradition between local ethnically-English Protestants (represented by the pink) and ethnically-Irish Catholics (represented by the green).[5] The vert was said to represent the flag of Brian Boru, the rose symbolized the Rose of England and the argent represented the peace between them, and the Cross of Saint Andrew. The claim that pink was representative of English Newfoundlanders was first made by R.C.Bishop Michael F Howley in his 1902 poem "The Flag of Newfoundland". This legend is unlikely, however, as the Rose of England (the Tudor Rose) is not pink but red and white, and the Newfoundland Natives' Society, which was claimed in the legend as being a Protestant society which used a pink flag, actually contained Catholics as well as Protestants, including a Catholic president (Dr Edward Kielly) at the supposed time of the inception of the "Pink, White and Green"(sic). Pink has never been used in any known fashion to represent England, its people or any of the Protestant denominations.[6] In another version of the legend, originating around 1900, it was claimed that the green represented newly arriving Irish settlers to Newfoundland and pink was again taken from the Natives' Society flag, but this time the Natives' Society was said to be a Roman Catholic group representing Catholics already living in Newfoundland. Protestants were not included at all.[7] The latest interpretation of the supposed symbolism of the "Pink, White and Green" seems to have arisen in the 1970s during provincial flag debates in Newfoundland as an effort to gain Protestant support for an Irish-based flag - Protestants representing 60% of the province's population[8] - but it is unlikely to be a factual account of history.[5][6] The flag gained a sentimental resurgence in the 1990s/2000s both as a political statement and on products aimed at the tourism industry.

Franco-Terreneuvien flag[edit]

Flag of Franco-Terreneuviens

The flag of the Fédération des Francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador is based on the French tricolour and Acadian flag, with three unequal panels of blue, white, and red. Two yellow sails are set on the line between the white and red panels. The sail on top is charged with a black spruce twig as seen on the Labrador flag. The black (bog) spruce is Newfoundland and Labrador's official provincial tree. The bottom sail is charged with a pitcher plant, the official provincial flower of Newfoundland and Labrador. These emblems are outlined in black.

The sails represent early Basque, Breton, and French fishermen that came to the area in the early 1500's. At the same time, they are symbols of action and progress. The yellow is taken from the star of the Acadian flag. The black spruce and pitcher plant are official symbols of Newfoundland and Labrador. The black spruce twig on the flag of the Federation des Francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador is an emblem of Labrador and is also found on the Labrador flag. The flag's colours of red, white, blue and yellow are also found in the provincial flag.

Labrador flag[edit]

The Labrador Flag was created by a small group lead by Member of the House of Assembly for Labrador South, Mike Martin in 1974. Martin et al did so as an affront of political mischief aimed at Joey Smallwood and his Liberal government's perceived indifference to Labrador and the provincial government's refusal to use anything other than the full Union Jack as the provincial flag. This use of the full Union Jack as the provincial flag was to the dismay of the Canadian and United Kingdom governments. The Labrador flag gave, at least, that part of the province its own distinctive flag. As Martin is from Cartwright, the town now proclaims itself the "Birthplace of the Labrador Flag". The flag was presented to Labrador community councils, and to the Labrador members of the House of Assembly, in April 1974 and is six years older than provincial flag of Newfoundland and Labrador which was introduced in 1980 by the Progressive Conservative government of Premier Brian Peckford.

Nunatsiavut flag[edit]

Flag of Nunatsiavut.

The self-governing Inuit region of Nunatsiavut has its own flag: The flag of Nunatsiavut is the flag adopted by the Labrador Inuit Association to represent the Inuit of Labrador and their new Land Claims Settlement Area called Nunatsiavut. The flag features the traditional Inuit Inukshuk coloured white, blue, and green echoing the flag of Labrador.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ About Newfoundland and Labrador - Provincial Flag
  2. ^ Alistair B. Fraser, Flags of Canada, 1998.
  3. ^ "Historic Flags of Newfoundland (Canada)". October 2005. Retrieved 2010-06-22.
  4. ^ Newfoundland Historical Society, A Short History of Newfoundland and Labrador, St. John's, NL, Boulder Publications, 2008.
  5. ^ a b Paul O'Neill, "Around and About", The Monitor, July 1976, pp. 11-12.
  6. ^ a b "Representative Government, 1832-1855". Retrieved 2010-06-29.
  7. ^ "Newfoundland Flags". Retrieved 2010-07-20.
  8. ^ "Statistics Canada: Population by religion, by province and territory (2001 Census)". Archived from the original on 2011-08-10. Retrieved 2010-06-22. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)

External links[edit]