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The maple leaf is the characteristic leaf of the maple tree, and is one of the most widely recognised national symbols of Canada.
At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the settlements of New France had attained a population of about 18,000. Also by this time, the maple leaf had been adopted as an emblem by the Canadiens along the Saint Lawrence River.
Its popularity with French Canadians continued, and was reinforced when, at the inaugural meeting of the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste in 1834, the maple leaf was one of numerous emblems proposed to represent the society. Speaking in its favour, Jacques Viger, the first mayor of Montreal, described the maple as "the king of our forest; ... the symbol of the Canadian people."
The maple leaf slowly caught on as a national symbol: in 1868, it was included in the coat of arms of both Ontario and Quebec, and was added to the Canadian coat of arms in 1921. In 1867, Alexander Muir composed the patriotic "The Maple Leaf Forever," which became an unofficial anthem in English-speaking Canada. From 1876 until 1901, the leaf appeared on all Canadian coins, and remained on the penny after 1901. During the First World War, badges of the Canadian Expeditionary Force were often based on a maple leaf design. The use of the maple leaf as a regimental symbol extended back to the 1800s, and Canadian soldiers in the Second Boer War were distinguished by a maple leaf on their sun helmets.
The maple leaf finally became the central national symbol with the introduction of the Canadian flag (designed by George F. G. Stanley) in 1965, which uses a highly-stylised eleven-pointed maple leaf, referring to no specific species of maple. Earlier official uses of a maple leaf design often used over 30 points and a short stem. The one chosen is a generic maple leaf representing the ten species of maple tree native to Canada—at least one of these species grows natively in every province. The maple leaf is currently used on the Canadian flag, logos of various Canadian based companies and the logos of Canadian sports teams. Examples include Air Canada, the Toronto Maple Leafs NHL franchise and the Toronto FC soccer club.
Since 1979, the Royal Canadian Mint has produced gold, silver, platinum, and palladium bullion coins, which are officially known as Maple Leafs, as geometric maple leaves are stamped on them.
The U.S. city of Carthage, Missouri is nicknamed "America's Maple Leaf City."
The mascot of Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana is the Maple Leaf and the nickname for Goshen College sports teams is the Maple Leafs.
The Maple leaf is also the Coat of Arms of Sammatti, Finland.
Canada (pronounced /ˈkænədə/) is a country occupying most of northern North America, extending from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west and northward into the Arctic Ocean. It is the world's second largest country by total area and shares the world's longest common border with the United States to the south and northwest.
The land occupied by Canada was inhabited for millennia by various groups of Aboriginal people. Beginning in the late 15th century, British and French expeditions explored, and later settled along, the Atlantic coast. France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America in 1763 after the Seven Years' War. In 1867, with the union of three British North American colonies through Confederation, Canada was formed as a federal dominion of four provinces. This began an accretion of provinces and territories and a process of increasing autonomy from the United Kingdom. This widening autonomy was highlighted by the Statute of Westminster of 1931 and culminated in the Canada Act of 1982, which severed the vestiges of legal dependence on the British parliament.
A federation comprising ten provinces and three territories, Canada is a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. It is a bilingual and multicultural country, with both English and French as official languages both at the federal level and in the province of New Brunswick. Technologically advanced and industrialised, Canada has a diversified economy reliant upon its abundant natural resources and upon trade—particularly with the United States, with which Canada has had a long and complex relationship. It is a member of the G8, NATO, OECD, WTO, the Commonwealth of Nations, the Francophonie, the OAS, APEC, and the United Nations.