Issue 016/2005

Dr. Stanley, during his RMC Days in the 1950s.

"There is your flag," Stanley said to Matheson

 (Recollections of 4585 KEN ARMSTRONG RMC 1959

First printed in: The Peterborough Examiner, Peterborough, Ontario
Wednesday, August 6, 2003  Print Edition, Page 26

Throughout one's life certain individuals remain in one's memory as having a profound affect.  One man in my life not only had a profound affect on me but he also left his mark on this country.  That person was a former professor of mine at the Royal Military College - George F.G. Stanley.

George Stanley was a scholar revered by his peers throughout the world and equally he was held in the same regard by all his former students, many of whom became professional historians and leaders in their fields across Canada.

Dr. Stanley was the Head of the History Department when I was a young cadet at R.M.C.  In a highly organized and rigidly structured environment, he stood out to us as the perfect role model - a gentleman, a scholar, a friend and later a confidant.

He led by example and set his students on a path of personal and individual achievement unhampered by his own prejudices and influences.  As a result, Stanley sent his students into the world equipped to make up their own minds and not just echo what they had been taught.

Stanley also had a profound affect on this country.  He left us the Maple Leaf Flag which flies proudly across Canada and the world today.  Two months before the flag debate erupted in parliament in May 1964, Dr. Stanley met John Matheson, M.P. and parliamentary assistant to Lester Pearson, for lunch at the R.M.C. Senior Staff Mess.

After lunch the two men walked across the parade square.  Matheson walked with some difficulty as he had been seriously wounded at the battle of the Moro River in Italy in 1943.  Stanley drew Matheson's attention to the college flag high above the Mackenzie Building which served as R.M.C.'s administration building.

"There is you flag," Dr. Stanley said.  "R.M.C.'s red-white-red design is what you should consider."  At the centre should be placed a single red maple leaf instead of the college emblem.  John Matheson took mental note of the suggestion and in the ensuing weeks gradually became convinced that Stanley's suggestion had merit.


"A flag," Dr. Stanley wrote to Matheson, "speaks for the people of a nation or community.  It expresses their sorrow when it flies at half-mast. It honours those who have given their services to the state when it is draped over coffins.  It silently calls all men and women to the service of the land in which they live.  It inspires self-sacrifice, loyalty and devotion."

On October 22, 1964, the parliamentary flag committee chose the Stanley design and immediately sent their design to parliament for approval.  The new Maple Leaf Flag was officially raised on Parliament Hill on Monday, February 15, 1965.

George Stanley went on to serve as New Brunswick's 25th lieutenant-governor from December 23, 1981 until August 20, 1987.  From 1982 to 1992 he served as Honorary Colonel on the New Brunswick Regiment.  He was made an officer of the Order of Canada in 1976 and promoted as a Companion in the Order in 1995.

Colonel the Hon. John Matheson served in the Parliament of Canada and as a Judge in Perth, Ontario.  He was a respected authority on heraldry in Canada and a proud United Empire Loyalist.  I had the honour of sitting beside him at an Artillery Association dinner held in Peterborough in 1990.

Both Dr. George Stanley and Col. the Hon. John Matheson left their mark on Canada and me in particular.  Both challenged Canadians to achieve a greater level of patriotism for their country.

Ed note:  4585 Ken Armstrong is an Ex Cadet and a retired Peterborough high school teacher.  He and his classmates from the Class of 1959 will be entering into the Old Brigade this year (1 October 2005). 

(Right - Dr. Stanley in his retirement years.)

Dr. Stanley passed away in his 96th year on 13 September 2002. After a traditional funeral at St. Paul's Anglican Church, Sackville, N.B., he was buried with full military honours in Sackville Cemetery.

See the original copy of  Dr. Stanley's flag memorandum, 23 March 1964  (RMC letterhead dated 23 March, 1964. to Member of Parliament, John Matheson, Esq., M.P.  at:

 (Left -The Hon. John Matheson.)  

See the, The Hon. John Matheson's postcard to Dr. George Stanley, 15 Dec.1964, announcing Parliament's

approval of the new Canadian Flag:  

Much more on this former RMC & Canadian icon and his incredible life may be found: 

Ed Note: Both H8829 George Stanley and H17417 John Matheson were elected as Honourary Life Members to the RMC Club of Canada a number of years ago.

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