In Memory of Whitney Smith, PhD

The Flag Shop is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Whitney Smith, on November 17, taken too soon by Alzheimer’s disease, at the age of 76.

Whitney Smith
(Whitney Smith holding the flag of Guyana, which was based on his design.)

Dr. Smith was the President Emeritus, founder and first president of the North American Vexillological Association (NAVA). He was passionate about the pursuit of knowledge of flags, as well as the advancement of the formal study and analysis of flags, coining the term “vexillology.” Throughout his life, he dedicated himself to the pursuit of all things relating to flags. Whitney was truly the greatest of his time and through the work of NAVA, he gave flags immeasurable significance in today’s culture.

As a small boy, Whitney became obsessed with flags and his enthusiasm only grew with the passage of time. In 1961, Dr. Smith and his colleague Gerhard Grahl co-founded the world’s first journal on the subject of flags: The Flag Bulletin #234, and a year later, in 1962, he established The Flag Research Center, as its director and all The Flag Shop locations across Canada came to rely on him for his knowledge and expertise. Indeed, he became known internationally as the foremost vexillological expert, providing influential knowledge about all aspects of flags.

The Flag Shop President, Susan Braverman recalls first meeting Dr. Smith at the age of 13, and says, “I absolutely loved Whitney!! He was bigger than life with a gentle spirit. Growing up, I remember, as a child that no one knew more about flags than Whitney. He was so passionate about sharing his knowledge and was a dear friend to our Flag Shop family! I will miss him so much!”

Whitney Smith
(Susan Braverman with Whitney and her mother, Doreen, the founder of The Flag Shop.)

Throughout his amazing career, he authored scores of books including Flags through the Ages and Across the World, The Flag Book of the United States and Flag Lore of All Nations. He also wrote more than 250 articles for the Encyclopedia Britannica. It was Whitney’s books that gave a name and deeper significance to what we do. His passion paved the way, sparking interest and dialogue among flag enthusiasts the world over.

Dr. Smith was the designer of flags such as the national flag of Guyana. As Guyana was emerging from British colonial rule, Smith wrote a letter to an independence leader and asked what the new country’s flag was going look like. He learned that a flag had not yet been designed and was asked for ideas. Whitney designed a prototype, depicting a golden arrow-like triangle with an overlapping red triangle against a green background. The flag was adopted, with minor modifications. Dr. Smith learned about the adoption of his flag design six years later, when Guyana gained formal independence.

Before the age of the internet, he was the forefather of the flag movement in North America and internationally. Whitney was known for designing the flag for the Saudi Navy and for advising the Smithsonian Institution about the preservation of the Star-Spangled Banner which flew over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. Dr. Smith also contributed to the design of flags for the islands of Bonaire and Aruba. In his lifetime, his vast collection exceeded 4,000 flags.

The Flag Shop extends deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Dr. Whitney Smith. He will be missed by flag buffs, experts and vexillologists around the world.

BC & Alberta Guide Dogs

The Flag Shop is proud to work with organizations supporting vital programs which improve the quality of life for individuals. One such example is the supply of special custom lapel pins, vinyl stickers and retractable banners for events and projects of BC & Alberta Guide Dogs.

BC & Alberta Guide Dogs Custom Lapel Pins
(Custom lapel pins for BC & Alberta Guide Dogs)

The mission of BC & Alberta Guide Dogs is to meet the growing demand for professionally trained Guide Dogs and Autism Support Dogs for citizens of British Columbia and Alberta, while meeting or exceeding industry standards.

BC & Alberta Guide Dogs, is celebrating 20 amazing years of making a difference in the lives of individuals with visual impairments and autism. This past summer, BC & Alberta Guide Dogs held its 20th Anniversary Volunteer Celebration Luncheon at Tsawwassen Springs in Delta, BC. At the event, volunteers were recognized, including over 130 supporters who contributed at least 5 years of service, all the way up to 20 years!

And earlier this month, BC & Alberta Guide Dogs celebrated with the Pacific Autism Family Network in Richmond, BC, who held its Grand Opening event. For additional Information about upcoming events in BC and Alberta, visit the events page.

BC & Alberta Guide Dogs Retractable Banners
(Retractable Banners for BC & Alberta Guide Dogs. Left: 20th Anniversary Volunteer Celebration Luncheon; Right: In partnership with Pacific Autism Family Network)

Quality of life has been immeasurably transformed for countless individuals, such as Sarah and her family.

BC & Alberta Guide Dogs Brady
Sarah was diagnosed with autism at the age of two years. She didn’t like going out in public. The sounds and people were simply too overwhelming for her. Her behaviors made getting through the day a difficult struggle. Everything changed when Sarah met her best friend, protector, companion, therapist, and brother. From the minute Brady walked into our home, he changed our lives forever! Watching the two of them together was amazing!

Of Brady, she said, “I’ll never be lonely again as long as I have my trusted furry friend!” To say thank you to all of the people responsible for bringing Brady into our lives seems so inadequate. BC & Alberta Guide Dogs has given us a gift that has brought such joy and happiness! Brady has changed our family forever. Our daughter is happy and safe. The quality of her life has improved beyond anything we could have ever hoped for. We are so very grateful!

Visit the BC & Alberta Guide Dogs website to read more stories of impact or to learn about volunteering opportunities.

Courage and Sacrifice in the Name of Peace

We Will Remember

Courage and Sacrifice in the Name of Peace
Commemorate Remembrance Day – Honour Our Heroes

On November 11, we remember the men and women who fought to preserve the tradition of freedom which Canadians enjoy every day. These heroes believed their actions would leave a lasting legacy of freedom for future generations. We must all do our part to ensure their dream of peace is realized. On Remembrance Day, we honour them for their ultimate sacrifice and pay homage to the courage of those who served their country in the name of peace for all nations.

The Flag Shop takes pride in working with our clients and in knowing that the work we do makes a real difference in the lives of those we touch. Here are two examples:

Operation Veteran
The Flag Shop Montreal proudly supports Operation Veteran supplying hundreds of flags in support of this important program, since 2009.

Operation Veteran was founded By Dr. Paul Kavanagh in partnership with the Canadian War Museum with the goal of providing complimentary meal vouchers to all Canadian military veterans who visit the museum.

The work of Operation Veteran pays tribute to the men and women who have served our nation, and helps us to remember our fallen heroes who sacrificed their lives to ensure freedom for future generations. All veterans visiting the museum are offered a meal voucher valued at $11 in honour of Remembrance Day. Since the first voucher was offered in 2009, more than 10,200 veterans have enjoyed a complimentary meal while visiting the museum.


Operation Veteran: Elias & Victoria Interview Dr. Kavanagh

George Derby Centre
The Flag Shop Vancouver acknowledges the work of the George Derby Centre, of Burnaby BC. This intermediate care facility provides residential care to veterans of the Armed Forces. The centre was built over 50 years ago, originally as a rehabilitation centre for young disabled veterans returning from the war. Today, the centre provides essential residential care to war veterans in its 300-bed facility.

The George Derby Centre relies on community support in the form of volunteerism and important funding efforts, such as the Pledge a Flag campaign. The goal of this event is to heighten public awareness of the importance of meeting the social and medical needs of our war heroes. All community support positively impacts the quality of life for veteran residents. Thousands of Canada flags, – symbols of Canadian patriotism and pride – are pledged, and include visits by community school students from Cariboo Secondary School and Armstrong Elementary School.

George Derby Centre

George Derby Centre

George Derby Centre

Interested in knowing more about other Remembrance Day events in your area?
Learn more by visiting the Veterans Affairs Canada website, which includes an interactive map of Remembrance Day events across Canada.

The Flag Shop proudly carries a full range of Canadian-made Remembrance Day products to honour veterans and pay tribute to our fallen heroes, as well as ensigns and military flags.

Aberdeen Raises its Flag

A NEW FLAG IN THE SKY OF ABERDEEN
When first entering the city of Aberdeen, southwest of Seattle, one would notice the “Welcome to Aberdeen” sign with the phrase “Come As You Are” just beneath it. As many millennials recall, that was the name of one of the most iconic songs of the 1990’s by rock band Nirvana.

Nirvana is known by almost everyone in North America and many around the world, but what people probably don’t know is that the famous rock band started in a small garage in the city of Aberdeen, Washington.

While populating just around 17,000 people, the city represents a very proud and strong community. Aberdeen had many things but they lacked one important thing… a flag.

One of the city residents, John Barclay, wanted to change that.

“In 2013 I was trying to get contract work with a city next to mine and noticed that they had a flag… I approached my city council and broached the subject,” he said.

13567212_1432734850086944_3885605415045653836_n

Barclay’s suggestion was met with a lot of joy.

“One Council of the 12 [city council members] at that time liked the idea enough to offer her sewing skills,” he added.

Barclay needed to turn his dream into reality, and that was when he decided to call The Flag Shop.

The people of Aberdeen wanted a flag, Barclay was going to design it, and The Flag Shop made it happen.

The flag design looks like a split golden letter “A” with a navy blue background. Despite its simple look, the flag carries a lot of meaning.

aberdeen flag

This is the official description of the flag:

The gold canton thus described being symbolic of the City of Aberdeen, Washington situated at the confluence of the Chehalis and Wishkah Rivers, and the blue field symbolic of the Harbor and Pacific Ocean beyond. Together the symbolism represents Founder Sam Benn’s deeply held dream of “someday building a great city at the confluence of the Chehalis and Wishkah Rivers.”

When it first came out, the people of Aberdeen loved it.

“At the parade where I passed out the paper flags everyone went crazy in love,” described Barclay.

13590349_10206776043180795_8500819107102740990_n

This was a story about a flag that could possibly hold the colours that Aberdonians will identify themselves with for generations to come, and we were part of it.

At the Flag Shop we simply love making history.

 

Until next time,

Ahmed Najdat
Communications & Social Media Manager

The Flag Shop celebrates the 20th National Aboriginal Day

Aboriginal Day Poster

To the northern hemisphere of the world, last Tuesday was the longest day of the year, the summer solstice. But more specifically to Canadians, it was the 20th National Aboriginal Day.

Since 1996, the 21st of June has marked the national Aboriginal day. For decades, Indigenous communities celebrated their heritage on this day due to the significance of it being the summer solstice.

The date became a milestone for Canadians to celebrate the culture and achievements of the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people.

With such a long legacy, it was only natural to see Indigenous art and history making its mark on flags in Canada.

Here are some interesting stories on Native flags:

The Métis flag:

Metis_Blue

One of the iconic Indigenous flags is the Métis Nation flag. Its beauty is in its simplicity and depth. With an infinity symbol before a blue background, the symbol represents the joining of two cultures, the Indigenous and the European. The symbol also represents the infinity in belief that the Métis culture shall live forever.

The Nunavut flag:

2000px-Flag_of_Nunavut.svg

When Nunavut officially became a Canadian territory in 1999, the first order of business was adopting a unique flag. Visually, the Nunavut flag is definitely the most Indigenous among all the Canadian provinces and territories. With a striking yellow and white background, the symbolic Inuksuk stone monument takes the centre of the flag. Historically, the Inuksuk guided people to their land, and marked sacred and special places in Indigenous communities. On the right corner of the flag is the North Star, a traditional guide for navigation and a symbol of elders’ leadership in the community.

The Canadian Native flag:

9c0dc2e1-1161-441d-9cb4-f23c296bfe2f

One of our proudest moments was when Susan Braverman, the president of The Flag Shop, worked with Curtis to bring his design for a flag to represent First Nations in Canada to the public.

The Flag Shop is the manufacturer and exclusive distributor of this flag. Not only it is a beautiful flag, but it’s also a symbol of a unified Canada that revels on diversity.

Here’s how Wilson described it: “The two designs on the red side bands are K’utala-Salmon. Salmon seemed the perfect way to convey the importance of family, friendships, and strength in numbers. There are as many types of people living here in Canada as there are types of salmon. I would like see us coming together in the future, not only my First Nations people, but all of Canada. The design within the maple leaf is a head of a killer whale in the shape of an oval. The killer whale head is surrounded by some traditional use designs called split “U” shapes.”

Our relationship with Indigenous flags and events go back farther than the first National Aboriginal Day in 1996.

From manufacturing the flags for the Stó:lō nation in Chilliwack, to the iconic flag of the Tsawwassen First Nation, to the beautiful  Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nation flag in Yukon. Our relationship with the Indigenous nations goes back to the 1970’s.

13149180995_54410d51a3_z13149460834_975f5eac52_z

Most recently, we produced flags and banners for the North American Indigenous games that took place in Regina, Saskatchewan.

It was a proud moment for many Indigenous young athletes to carry these flags up high, and it brought us a lot of joy to say that we were part of these special moments.

Making flags means being a part of something, and for that we are proud to be a part of the rich and diverse Indigenous community of Canada.

 

Until next time,

Ahmed Najdat
Communications & Social Media Manager

 

The Flag Shop Hits the Highway with Guardians of the Children

The Flag Shop Hits the Highway with Guardians of the Children (1)

When Guardians of the Children called The Flag Shop, they knew they wanted motorcycle flags that were both cost effective and quality.

After hearing about what Guardians of the Children stand for, The Flag Shop President, Susan Braverman, wasn’t wGuardians of the Childrenilling to just sell the biker group some flags; she wanted to go above and beyond their expectations.  By reaching out to her network in the industry and pulling some strings in our production department, Susan not only found a way to make custom motorcycle flags for the Guardians of the Children, but she was also able to design and create custom friendship pins for the biker group!

We were excited to help such a unique cause!  Why? Because at The Flag Shop, our goal is to change the world one flag at a time!

So who exactly are Guardians of the Children?

“We’re a group of bikers on a mission to power the children,” said “Mama Bear”, member of Guardians of the Children’s Vancouver chapter who asked to be anonymous.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Guardians of the Children are an international group of bikers on a mission to protect children from abuse.  The group started with its San Antonio, Texas chapter in 2006, then Winnipeg started the first Canadian chapter in 2014, and in January of this year, a chapter opened up in Vancouver.

What better way to change the world than to make products for a group of bikers that protects children from abuse?!  In fact, we loved the cause so much that we gave Guardians of the Children a hefty discount on their purchase of custom motorcycle flags and friendship pins.

On June 12th, Guardians of the Children embarked on an International Pledge Ride to spread awareness of their cause, and pledge commitment to the children.  And guess what went along for the ride?  The amazing flags and pins from The Flag Shop!

The pins aren’t just any pins… they’re friendship pins!

Guardians of the Children

“The friendship pins represent a united brother and sisterhood between Canadian and American Guardians of the Children chapters.  They are also meant to support the mission of the Guardians,” said “Mama Bear”.  The Vancouver chapter gifted some of the friendship pins to a chapter in Washington recently. “Mama Bear” hopes to continue sharing the pins to other American chapters as well.

As for the flags?  The flags showcase the Guardians of the Children’s mission to protect the children, spread awareness about child abuse, and prevent bullying.  The black and blue flags waved across the highway on June 12th for the Guardians of the Children’s International Pledge Ride!

I think it goes without saying that we love working with causes!  Are you looking for ways to showcase your unique cause?  Contact your nearest Flag Shop to chat with a member of our team!

Until next time,

Ally Quinney
Public Relations & Social Media Manager

Our Beloved Betty Hits 100,000 Metres of Flags and Banners!

DESSERTS

You know those spectacular streets banners that brighten up even the rainiest of morning commutes?  You may have noticed our beautiful Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation banners in the spring, or even our colourful street banners throughout the West End… but have you ever wondered how they’re made?

Most of the street banners made in our Vancouver facility are made on our DuPont™ Artistri®2020 digital textile printer, but we call her ‘Betty’ for short.

We just celebrated a marvelous achievement!  Betty officially produced over 100,000 metres of flags and banners!  That’s nearly enough material to stretch from our Vancouver store to our Victoria Store!

Photo: Google map from The Flag Shop Vancouver to The Flag Shop Victoria

Photo: Google map from The Flag Shop Vancouver to The Flag Shop Victoria

We got Betty in 2008.  At the time, she was the best digital printer on the market, and our Betty continues to live up to her reputation as a top-quality digital textile printer.  The fact that all of our street banners have been printed through her leaves no doubt that Betty is one heck of a workhorse!

If you haven’t been lucky enough to lay your eyes on some of the banners that Betty has made, check out the photo gallery below!  You won’t be disappointed!

Do you want to put Betty to work on your own custom flag or banner?  Request a quote on our website or email us at Vancouver@flagshop.com.

Thanks for stopping by our blog!

Until next time,

Ally Quinney
Public Relations and Social Media Manager

A Flag on the Play: Soccer is Back for Another Great Season

Are you ready, Canada? Spring is here, which means the grass is back; it also means that the soccer season is starting up again. Now I know we all love hockey, but soccer is growing fast in Canada and really, what’s not to love? We hear it’s called ‘the beautiful game’ and for good reason – these fans are crazy about flags!

We have four professional teams in the Great White North; Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Toronto FC, Montreal Impact FC playing in the MLS and the Ottawa Fury playing in the NASL. So let’s have a look at just how flag crazy these fans can be! (And I saved the best for last, so be sure to read the whole way down!)

First up, let’s start back east. These Montreal Impact fans have not only flags, but a bell??? How’d they manage that? Also, did you notice the Irish banner? That could be pretty seasonally appropriate I think. (*cough* St.Patrick’s Day *cough*)

Ring my beeeeelllll!!! #IMFC #1642mtl @tonymarinaro690 @1642mtl Quelle ambiance !!!

A video posted by Impact de Montréal (@impactmontreal) on

This pic from the Toronto FC shows off the custom banner side of game flags – these are great if you have a front row seat, or if your stadium doesn’t allow flagpoles (a note on that at the end).

In Ottawa, they like to keep it in the province; their Red Devil mascot seems to enjoy the Ontario flag!

Finally, here in Vancouver the local team supporters, the Vancouver Southsiders, really know how up the ante with their flag game. Here’s a video from a recent March to the season opener:

Players, here ✔️ Supporters, here ✔️ MLS Season, here ✔️ #VWFC

A video posted by Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@whitecapsfc) on

Yeah, these groups really know what’s up when it comes to flags:

BONUS: Canada also has a national supporter group, The Voyageurs, and you guessed it, they love flags a whole lot:

If you want to get in on all of the flag fun, we do sell licensed MLS flags for the Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver teams in our online shop.  And if you really want to step up your game, we can make you something custom. Please remember, though, that each stadium has its own rules around flags. One of your best bets is to join a local supporter group – they often work closely with the team to up the ante when it comes to the fan section.


The Flag Shop has been working locally with the Vancouver Whitecaps for years. You can see examples of their street banners here and of a giant flag we did for them here. If you would like more information about ordering a custom flag, please contact us.

The Flag Shop Celebrates Pink Shirt Day

On February 24th, also known as Pink Shirt Day, everything looked rosy at The Flag Shop. From coast to coast, Flag Shop employees slipped on their pink shirts and lined up for selfies.

Anti-Bullying movements are a big deal to us here so we like to do what we can to support the initiatives that come our way. Most recently we launched a school fundraising program that enables schools to spread the Anti-Bullying message while raising money for school initiatives. In the pink shirt photos below, you may even steal a peek of some of the anti-bullying products we carry.

Now without further ado, the parade of pink shirts!

First up were the early risers at The Flag Shop New Brunswick:

Then Le Flag Shop Montreal got in on the lutte contre l’intimidation:

The Flag Shop Winnipeg made Pink Shirt Day a family affair:

While the The Flag Shop Edmonton location felt some puppy love:

Last but not least, the The Flag Shop Head Office staff posed outside for a photo. There were lots of cars driving buy, so hopefully we served as a human billboard for the message.

 

HAPPY PINK SHIRT DAY EVERYONE!


Pink Shirt Day isn’t the only day that promotes the Anti-Bullying movement; next up is Day of Pink on April 13th and the United Nations Anti-Bulling Day on May 4th. For more information on Anti-Bullying initiatives and to learn more about our school fundraising program, visit www.antibullyingflag.ca.

Flag Day 2016: Honouring Patrick Reid

 

Monday, February 15th is a busy day for Canadians. With Family Day for some, and Islander, Louis Riel or Heritage Day for others, many Canadians will be enjoying the last day of a long weekend. However, February 15th is also Flag Day in Canada, and although it is not itself a statutory holiday, it is still one that anyone who loves the red and white maple leaf flag will find wonderfully important.

Canadian FlagUnfortunately, Flag Day 2016 also marks the first Flag Day since the passing of Patrick Reid, a man who was absolutely instrumental in the adoption of our modern flag.

The Adoption of the Flag

In the Fall of 1964, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson was pushing through a new Canadian flag. Dubbed the ‘Pearson Pennant,’ this red, white and blue design was not approved in the House of Commons. It was eventually Patrick Reid, who was the Director of the Canadian government exhibition commission at the time, that pulled together and championed the design that we all know today.

There were no shortage of ideas for this new flag – people from all over the country had submitted designs. Through all of them, Reid knew that what was needed was something distinctly Canadian. It had to be a departure from the Canadian Ensign and British flags before it.

Reid wanted a flag that was simple and clear from a distance. He hired one of the Canadian exhibition commission’s designers at the time, the talented Jacques Saint Cyr. The final design, the one we know today, was adopted on February 15, 1965.

A Deeper Connection

As an immigrant to Canada from Ireland, Reid wanted to flag that represented Canada and not the British empire that had previously ruled it. He believed very strongly in Canadian institutions, but also in nation-building. It was important to him that Canada had a unique identity, and that it would stand apart as its own country.
Patrick Reid

The Man Was a Force
According to someone that knew Reid, he had a strong talent for diplomacy. He was firm in his opinions but he was able to make things come to fruition in spite of any conflict. He never had to force his opinions on others and was instead often able to bring others to see his point of view. At the time of the flag adoption, Canadians were divided in many ways over the symbol. Many were quite reluctant to leave the imperial past behind. Patrick Reid stood in the belief that this flag was the right one for Canada, and apparently Canadians agreed.

As we honour the adoption of a flag that is consistently ranked most beautiful and is the envy of others, let’s be sure to take a little second to remember Patrick Reid, a man with a plan, and a flag.


The Canadian Club of Vancouver will be hosting their annual Flag Day luncheon on Monday, February 15th. This will mark the first year in many that Patrick Reid will not be in attendance to speak about the Canadian flag. More information about the event can be found on their website.

There will also be a Flag Raising and City Proclamation at Vancouver City Hall at 8:45am that same day.

To learn more about Patrick Reid, who was also instrumental in Expo ’87 and the Rick Hansen ‘Man in Motion’ Tour, the Globe and Mail as well as the Vancouver Sun wrote some very comprehensive obituaries. The Vancouver Sun also wrote specifically about his involvement in the development of the Canadian flag.

Many thanks to Ted Hawthorne and Raymond Greenwood for their assistance.