FLAG DESIGNER -- Songwriter's Ballad Honours Former Lieutenant-Governor
Ex-pat strums tribute to former lieutenant-governor


The New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, St. Stephen bureau
News, Monday, February 16, 2004 – Print Edition, Page A1/A7

A Canadian singer-songwriter who now lives in Nashville has penned a tribute to George Stanley, a former New Brunswick lieutenant-governor and the man who designed Canada's maple leaf flag.

Lisa Lapointe, a Montreal native, wrote One Single Leaf: The Ballad of George Stanley in the fall of 2002 after reading Mr. Stanley's obituary in the Montreal Gazette.

"I had never really heard of him, I barely knew anything other than that the flag just sort of came out in the '60s," Ms. Lapointe said Sunday in a telephone interview from San Francisco.

Then she read Dr. Stanley's obituary and did some research into the birth of the maple leaf flag.

"I was just really moved by the story. It's fascinating and I think it's a real shame that more people don't know how the flag came about. George Stanley, after I read more about him, he's just incredible."

Ms. Lapointe and her husband, John Klepko, first performed the song on National Flag of Canada Day, Feb. 15, 2003, at Montreal's Yellow Door Coffeehouse. She and Mr. Klepko recorded the song in their Nashville living room last fall.

The maple leaf flag was raised for the first time at noon on Feb. 15, 1965 and in 1996, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien announced that Feb. 15 was to be officially designated National Flag of Canada Day.

Dr. Stanley's simple red-and-white flag design was chosen from thousands submitted in 1965 under Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson.

The historian, educator, author and former New Brunswick lieutenant-governor died in 2002 in Sackville at age 95.

Speaking on the importance of a flag to a nation, Dr. Stanley once said:

"A flag is more than a means of identification. It is the embodiment of what a country stands for: it is the symbol of the ethos or spirit of a people, its hopes, its aspirations, its will to live and its determination to play its role in history."

Dr. Stanley was born in Calgary and, in addition to being a Rhodes Scholar, was also a Spengler Cup-winning hockey player.

Dr. Stanley returned to Canada from England in 1936 to head the history department at Mount Allison University in Sackville.

He then joined the army, first as a lieutenant with the New Brunswick Rangers and then as an infantry training officer in Fredericton before going overseas to be a historian at the Canadian army headquarters in London.

He was discharged as a lieutenant-colonel in 1947 in Vancouver.

In the 1940s, Dr. Stanley researched the history of the Canadian government's policy on dealing with native people. By 1949 he was the head of the history department at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont., a post he held for 20 years.

The maple leaf flag was born from a sketch Dr. Stanley drew at the bottom of a memo that he sent to John Matheson, Mr. Pearson's parliamentary secretary who was in charge of the flag committee. The committee saw the sketch of the simple design and approved it unanimously.

In 1969, Dr. Stanley returned to Mount Allison University to set up the first undergraduate program in Canadian Studies at a Canadian university. He taught brand new courses in Canadian civilization that dealt with literature, music, architecture and culture.

In 1982, Dr. Stanley became New Brunswick's 25th lieutenant-governor since Confederation; he held that post for five years.

He was also one of the founders of the Université de Moncton, and the author and editor of 18 books and numerous articles and book reviews.

During his lifetime, Dr. Stanley received countless honours in recognition of his academic and public-service contributions, including Companion of the Order of Canada, a Canadian Forces long-service medal and 12 honorary degrees.

Ms. Lapointe has performed with some musical heavy hitters. She's opened for Ray Charles and backed up Celine Dion as a member of the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir. She's also performed as a soloist in Handel's Messiah and she's played in the famous Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco.

She has also lead and arranged music for church choirs and plays guitar and piano.

With files from Canadian Press

Reach our reporter tjstst@nb.aibn.com

Copyright © 2004 The New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.