Recent news stories about the George Stanley residence (see above for more information). Herald below, FFWD at this link: http://www.ffwdweekly.com/Issues/2006/0727/city.htm
Heritage designation sought for city home of flag's 'father'
Thursday, August 03, 2006
A number of Calgarians are pushing for historical designation for the childhood home of George Stanley, the father of the Canadian flag.
They're hoping to have some form of heritage designation for the 98-year-old home, located at 1111 7th St. S.W., in place by the 100th anniversary of Stanley's birth next July.
Stanley, who died at age 96 in 2002 after distinguished careers as an academic, author, historian and lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick, is best known as the man who came up with the design of Canada's maple leaf flag, adopted by Parliament after contentious debate in 1964.
He lived in Calgary for the first 18 years of his life before moving to Edmonton to study at the University of Alberta.
"The house is not on the city's heritage inventory right now. It's kind of flown under the radar for years," says Bob van Wegen, the external director of the Calgary Heritage Initiative Society.
"A lot of people are surprised when they find out a Calgarian designed our Canadian flag. We want to be proactive and preserve this part of Calgary's, and Canada's past," van Wegen adds.
The house has been used as an Italian restaurant in recent years and its next incarnation is expected to be as a hair and esthetics salon.
"In the short term, the home's future appears to be pretty safe," said van Wegen. "But this seemed like a good opportunity to raise the issue, to bring it to the attention of city authorities before it's too late."
Darryl Cariou, senior heritage planning with the city of Calgary, said once a formal designation request is received, the building will be evaluated by the Calgary Heritage Authority using criteria which include architecture, history and landmark status.
"It would certainly score highly in its historic associations," said Cariou.
"If it is recommended for heritage status, then it's a matter of negotiating with the building owner for designation. It's virtually impossible to designate properties against an owner's wishes."
University of Calgary history professor Don Smith says Stanley played a significant role in both making and chronicling Canadian history.
"A plaque honouring Stanley on the home would certainly be welcomed, but declaring it a heritage building would be wonderful," says Smith.
"I sense Calgary was always close to his heart although he lived in a number of other parts of the country," adds Smith, noting Stanley wrote vivid accounts of his boyhood years attending Connaught and Central Collegiate (Dr. Carl Safran) schools.
Smith says Stanley authored definitive histories of western Canada and held a special passion for Louis Riel.
Stanley's widow Ruth, who was in Calgary recently, said he often regaled her with tales of his boyhood in the burgeoning prairie town.
"There always seemed to be a perpetual hockey game going on on the street in front using a frozen cow pie as a puck," Ruth recalls with a smile.
"And his father and George conducted target practice in the basement of the house with their guns."
Ruth said flags seemed to play a pivotal role in George's life from an early age.
"They always had a (Red) Ensign flag outside this house, but George never felt it reflected Canada's reality," she adds.
By the mid- 1960s, many Canadians shared Stanley's restlessness for a distinct symbol to call our own and the government of Lester Pearson launched a committee to seek design submissions.
Stanley was serving as Dean of Arts at Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., and took the college's flag as part of his inspiration. With a red pencil and a ruler, he sketched out his concept on the bottom of a March 23, 1964, letter to MP John Matheson and the rest is history.
Ruth said George had a clear vision of what Canada's flag should include.
"Red and white was a must. It had to be distinctive and visible from a distance, something that stood out against backdrops like water or snow. And the maple leaf had to be stylized, not intricate, something that school children could draw," she adds, sitting on the steps of her husband's boyhood home in the early morning sunshine.
Some at the time of the great flag debate were pushing for a beaver instead of a maple leaf as the focal symbol.
"But we always thought a beaver would look too much like a rat from a distance," Ruth says, smiling.
When he got the phone call that his design had been accepted from hundreds of submissions, Ruth said George was "quite shocked."
On Feb. 15, 1965, George Stanley's design became Canada's national flag.
"We went to the top of the Peace Tower. It was absolutely stunning. Ottawa was awash with flags," Ruth says.
Soon after they were married in 1946, George Stanley brought his new bride, a Montreal girl, out to see his foothills hometown.
"I don't think the city and the mountains ever got out of his blood," Ruth says. "He surely loved Calgary."
© The Calgary Herald 2006