Government of Canada Commemorates the National Historic Significance of Lester B. Pearson, the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949 and the Creation of Canada’s Flag

Lester B. Pearson
Photo: Lester B. Pearson

Today, the Honourable Andrew Leslie, Member of Parliament for Orleans on behalf of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Catherine McKenna, recognized the importance of the creation of Canada’s national flag and the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949, as events of national significance, and also recognized Lester Bowles Pearson as a person of national historic significance.

The Government of Canada is committed to connecting Canadians to the significant events that contributed to our country’s rich and varied history. Canada’s 14th Prime Minister, Lester B. Pearson, had a profound impact on the nation as both a diplomat and a politician. He laid the groundwork for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and championed the new and current Canadian flag.

In 1949, Canada took its place on the world stage, when as Foreign Minister, Pearson helped negotiate the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty, which created the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. During the election campaign of 1963, Pearson campaigned on a promise to create a new national flag for Canada within two years if elected. He kept that promise, and adopted in 1965, the national flag of Canada that has become a universally recognized emblem that truly represents our country.

Canada’s national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation area enable Canadians to experience their rich history and heritage in a special way and play a big part in the celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation. As part of the centennial of national historic sites, Parks Canada invites Canadians to be inspired and captivated by the stories of the people and events that shaped the Canada of today.


“Lester Bowles Pearson, our country’s 14th Prime Minister, was a world statesman and a proud Canadian. His lifetime accomplishments and legacy stand out for special recognition. He is someone who left a larger-than-life mark not only on Canada, but the global community. As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation, I encourage all Canadians to experience nature and learn more about our history. ”

The Honourable Andrew Leslie, Member of Parliament for Orleans

Quick Facts

  • Internationally, Lester B. Pearson established Canada’s reputation as a peacekeeping nation, and at home, he introduced important social programs that have become enshrined in Canadian society.
  • Canada was one of three initiators of the North Atlantic Treaty which created NATO and revolutionized Canadian foreign policy.
  • Red and white have been Canada’s national colours since the proclamation of King George V in 1921. Red is representative of Saint George’s Cross, the patron saint of England, while white has been part of French royal emblems since King Charles II.
  • Created in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises the Minister of Environment and Climate Change regarding the national historic significance of places, people and events that have marked Canada’s history.

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