Dr. Stanley, during his RMC Days in the 1950s.
"There is your flag," Stanley said to
(Recollections of 4585 KEN ARMSTRONG – RMC 1959
First printed in: The Peterborough Examiner,
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
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
"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
"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
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.
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
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
(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
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:http://www.stfx.ca/people/lstanley/stanley/welcome2.htm
-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:
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.