Boer War Page 92w
Rare Boer War Discoveries
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Below are some of the key items the Canadian Boer War Museum has added to its collections in its ongoing efforts to preserve important Canadian heritage memorabilia from this period.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Canadian Display Flag, 1887
Orig. cotton - Size - 20 x 36"
Found - Kitchener, ON
In 1887, this flag travelled to Britain with a young girl from Thorold, Ontario, bound via New York to attend the Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations in London.
The Canadian Anglo-Boer War Museum recently was fortunate to acquire a marvelous flag right, which says a lot about Canada and Canadians over a century ago.

It's basic form is the Red Ensign, with the Coat of Arms of Canada, and a picture of Queen Victoria added to the red field.

The flag is cotton, with the same images, reversed of course, and somewhat weaker in definition, on the back. But only in comparison. The back images are strong too, but the crests in the coat-of-arms are wrongly displayed with Quebec now in the Ontario place. Since there is no writing to tell you that the flag image is reversed only scholars will detect that something is fishy on the other side. Yes the fish is swimming in the wrong direction!

The designers obviously avoided writing on flags for exactly that reason, to keep the display integrity looking believable on both sides, using the same see-through image.

It is a common Canadian mistake to show them going counter clockwise. At a recent auction we saw a huge Union Jack being sold carefully draped across the front of the stage. A powerful image. But it had been hung upside down by the staff who did not know where the thick bars should go. It was a long time before an alert auction goer pointed out the error. This being laid back Canada, no one bothered to rehang it and it stayed that way during the auction.

Here the artist lost it completely, mixing thick and thin lines indiscriminately. That nobody in Victorian Canada, in quality control at the shop caught this is amazing.

Dating the Flag: There is no doubt, by looking at the age-burn on the material that this flag is ancient - definitely over a hundred years old.

The best guides for dates of manufacture for this are the picture of the Queen and the crest. The two biggest celebrations in Queen Victoria's reign (1837-1901) were her Golden Jubilee in 1887, and her Diamond Jubilee in 1897. For these festive occasions many flags and banners, like this one, were created.

The Queen looks young so the flag may have been made for her 1887 Golden Jubilee rather than the Diamond when she was more aged.

Look at the crest you say! Well it is actually only of some help. It has crests for five Canadian provinces, starting top left in clockwise order, Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, which comprised Canada for the three years from 1867 to 1870. Prince Edward Island joined Confederation in 1871, and British Columbia in 1873. Neither of their crests appear on the flag.

It could therefore be a flag that was made to celebrate Confederation in 1867, when Queen Victoria was 48. The age on her picture fits too. And the flag certainly has the age burn that would fit that date - compared to other flags we've seen from later periods.

A rare historic treasure, a Confederation of Canada celebration flag from 1867!

You would be wrong of course.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Queen Victoria, Golden Jubilee 1887
Orig. CDV- Size - 4.5 X 6.25"
Found - Grimsby, ON
Photo by Bassano, 1887
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Queen Victoria, Golden Jubilee 1887
Orig. litho & frame - Size - oa 32 x 36"
Found - Caledon, ON
A marvellous example of the colour lithos made to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of 1887, proudly displayed in a spectacular Victorian frame.
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
Duke & Duchess of York Canadian Tour Flag - 1901
Orig. flag - Size - 20" x 33"
Found - Ottawa, ON
Cotton printed flag celebrating the Royal Tour of Canada by the future King George V & Queen Mary (to be crowned 1911)

Toronto-Centric 1887-2006:

But, but, the crest says 1870! Yes it does. But retail merchants in Toronto in 1885 weren't the brightest, or the most open-minded. Their entire world stopped at the outskirts of the city - just as it does in 2006.

To them, PEI was only a tiny island of poor fishermen, and far away. And BC was a small group of shabby gold miners and savage Indians an entire continent away. Canada was in Ontario, thank you. And the crest with the important central provinces would do just fine. No use retooling our artwork for those few, no-account rubbies living in the sticks. How Torontonian - and Ontarian - in 1887; easterners and westerners say little has changed in 2006.

So the old, incorrect crest - which shut Easterners and Westerners out of Confederation - was manufactured wrongly for decades in Ontario, to celebrate what else, national unity!.

In fact we've seen flags made for the Royal Visit of the Duke and Duchess of York, to Canada in 1901, still sporting the same 5 province crest from 1870, right, 30 years after Canada had added those two extra provinces.

The flag was probably made by the same manufacturer who made the 1887 flag. He used almost the exact same design for the crest.

But there is one bright spot. The artist finally has the Union Jack right, with the thick white bars rotating clockwise uniformly on all four diagonals.

Coming Soon: the story of the girl from Thorold, Ontario who took this flag to the Queen's Golden Jubilee in London, England in 1887, and marvelled at the new Statue of Liberty just erected as her ship steamed out of New York harbour. She left a diary of her adventures.

An Ultra Rare Great Canadian Golden Jubilee Flag, 1887
Local Yokels: This is not an official flag, made for use by Government or military units, but a display flag made by a private contractor to be sold to civilians for showing on festive occasions, either to be draped from window sills, hung on poles, or waved about tacked on to broom handles at parades.

Official flags did not carry pictures of Queen Victoria on them; this was done to attract the home buyers.

So the flag was made of thin cotton with the images printed on, instead of sewn in, as they were on official flags.

And as always, in Canada, mistakes were made with the design of the Union Jack. The thick white bars are drawn in completely at random, when they should be on the leading edge of the diagonals, rotating clockwise.

The picture on the flag is a blind copy of the Bassano photo taken of Queen Victoria in honour of her Golden Jubilee in 1887 above, left. Her face has the same age and pudginess, and she wears the same crown and veil over her head, and has the same blue sash and bow ribbon over her shoulder.

So the flag could not predate 1887 and very likely was made to sell at the festivities to mark her Golden Jubilee, 50 years on the throne.


c Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996 & 2000