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The Canadian Betsy Ross
The couple were from Ontario, Canada. She has become somewhat famous for being the woman who sewed the first canadian flag, much like her counter part in U.S. history, Betsy Ross.
I just thought her story was pretty interesting and would share it ( Below I copied the relevant parts from an article written by Patrick Reid, sept 26th, 1995). And equally interesting was her husband’s story about his father being a Home Child cast out of England and the subsequent apology given personally by the Queen herself but I do not have an article detailing his story.
…I went home and jotted down some criteria. My wife Alison added some and argued others. We agreed a few elementary stipulations, such as the flag should be identical on both sides, it should be starkly simple and memorable, a child should be able to draw it, people should want to fly it, and love it. The last might take time, but the first eliminated a natural leaf entirely. I telephoned the PMO, asked if a very simple, stylized design would meet with approval. If so it would not be necessary to bother the prime minister personally, and I would be happy to work through John Matheson. Half an hour later I got a cryptic message. We were to get on with it!
…I talked to Tom Wood, our chief designer, who was away working on the design of the Canadian Pavilion at Expo 67. He suggested Jacques Saint-Cyr for the job. Jacques was a meticulous artist who liked to choose his assignments. I asked him to come in and ex plained the likely task and the urgency of it all. I think he was both non-plussed and amused to be selected. But he agreed to work on a formal design, the simplest he could conceive; and have a sketch available that evening, when we would meet Matheson.
Jacques produced a 13-point leaf, not dissimilar to one that he had designed for a recent Canadian exhibit in Europe . Matheson appeared to be warm ing to that particular version. We agreed to meet again on Nov. 6, after Jacques had had a chance to work up some variants. We would have a silk screen crew standing by in our work shops, to print an experimental flag. For want of a better alternative at the time, we would use bedsheets and spare bunting for the silk-screening.
Matheson phoned to say that he had to have a flag at the prime minister’s residence on the morning of Nov. 7. It would be flown there for the PM’s in spection when he got up. The exhibition commission was well used to last minute turmoil of unchangeable dead lines. We were, however, missing a person who could sew the edges and eyelets on the completed flag. Ken Donovan, a purchasing agent at the commission, volunteered his daughter, Joan O’Malley, and Joan agreed to stand by.
Matheson was in a wheel-chair that evening and we used the length of one of the halls of our building to show off the final 13-point design from a distance. We would scurry up and down, exchanging, sketches and comments. There was something not quite right, and I could not put my finger on the problem precisely, except that it was around the stem of the leaf. I sensed an unease in Jacques also.
“Do you think maybe its too busy at the base?” I asked the designer. “What would happen, for example, if you took away two of the four points?” Jacques was sure it would be an improvement. I told Matheson what was proposed. He had no objection except that time was running out. Jacques was already on a redesign, and an hour later we had a precise, 11-point, maple leaf.
It was then about 10 p.m. Matheson appeared content, and exhausted. It was the end of months, even years, of excitement and tribulation and he des perately wanted to see a real flag. We all went out to the silk-screen shop with production manager Jack Rach lis. Plant foremen John Williams and Jean Desrosiers did the detailed work. There were three prototype flags made that night, after some experimentation with the color. One was taken away by Matheson. One disappeared and I am pretty certain I know who purloined it. The third was placed in the expert hands of Joan O’Malley, who had just arrived. She sewed superbly, added a halyard toggle and eyelets strong enough to withstand the winter weath er outside. We persuaded John to go home because Joan had to do the whole operation, which was entirely new to her, by hand. About 2 a.m. the flag was ready and Ken Donovan set off for Sussex Drive . He was to phone when he had made the delivery…