On February 15th, Canadians celebrate the 51st anniversary of the current flag. To mark the occasion, we’re happy to share the story of the soldier from Montreal’s Maisonneuve Regiment who created the emblematic maple leaf design.
Jacques St-Cyr was born in Batiscan, Québec in 1921. In 1942, at the age of 21, he voluntarily enlisted and took part in the liberation of Europe. He arrived in Courseulles-sur-Mer with the Maisonneuve Regiment on July 7th, as a Sergeant with A company. He was wounded on July 30th, in Saint-André-sur-Orne, during the siege of the town and repatriated to England. In 1945, he returned to his regiment to participate in the liberation of the Netherlands.
He was lucky enough to survive and return home. Like many other returning veterans, he received a scholarship and chose to study graphic design. He traveled from Montreal to New York, then to London, to complete his studies. His experience in graphic design is what gave him the opportunity to become the creator of the final maple leaf design which can be seen on the Canadian flag, in 1965.
In 2001, his brother and godson, Pierre and Pierre Jr. St-Cyr, organized a pilgrimage to Normandy to walk in Jacques’ footsteps. They did this on bikes, starting in Courseulles-sur-Mer where the Maisonneuve Regiment landed in 1944. Their travels led them through several towns south of Caen, before they finally arrived in Saint-André-sur-Orne, where Jacques St-Cyr was wounded.
‘’ The visit to the cemeteries at Bény-sur-Mer and Bretteville-sur-Laize reminded us that Jacques St-Cyr could have been laid to rest here for evermore had he not had the luck to get out of this war alive. […]
It was with great emotion and pride that my father and I found ‘’our Jacques’ maple leaf’’ literally everywhere in Normandy along with the many plaques and reminders of the advance of the Canadian liberators OF 1944. We often said that Jacques St-Cyr could never have imagined, while fighting in Normandy, that later, he would leave his mark on the entire area, through the new Canadian flag.’’
–Pierre Jr. St-Cyr, Montreal
Dispatches from Juno shares all the news, events, and stories from the Juno Beach Centre in France and Canada. Interested in contributing a story to the blog? Email the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.