It has been 50 years since the red and white Maple Leaf became the official flag of Canada. Until then, Canada made do with unofficial versions of the Red Ensign, which was originally the flag of the British Merchant Marine. The Red Ensign displayed the Union Jack in the corner, reflecting Canada's ties to Great Britain.
The drive to estabish a made-in-Canada flag began in the 1920s with Prime Minister Wiliam Lyon Mackenzie King. But progress was not made until 1964, a few years before Canada's Centennial year. The decision by Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson to move forward with a new flag resulted in almost of year of often acrimonious debate.
In this video, historian Allan Levine talks about Canada's Great Flag Debate.
You can also read The Great Flag Debate by Allan Levine.