Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
It was first used as a Canadian symbol as early as 1700 when the English, Scottish, and Irish in Canada would all display their national plant at certain gatherings. Individuals with only distant affiliation to these areas and wishing to be considered Canadians began to wear the maple leaf.
The maple leaf slowly caught on as a Canadian national symbol. It was included in the coat of arms of both Ontario and Quebec in 1868 and was added to the Canadian coat of arms in 1921. In 1867 Alexander Muir composed the patriotic The Maple Leaf Forever, which became an unofficial anthem in English Canada. From 1876 until 1901 the leaf appeared on all Canadian coins. After 1901 it remained on the penny, and since 1979 it has adorned the Royal Canadian Mint's gold, silver, and platinum bullion coin issues, which are officially known as Maple Leafs. During WWI and WWII the leaf was a widely used regimental symbol. The maple leaf finally became the central national symbol with the intoduction of the Canadian flag in 1965.
The eleven pointed maple leaf seen on the Canadian flag is highly stylized and refers to no specific species of maple.
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