In the upper-third, stretching across a band of red, a gold heraldic lion. In the lower two thirds, a green island defaces a field of white. On the island are depicted three oak saplings under a mighty oak tree. Along the fly and both lengths of the flag, a border of alternating white and red bands, the colours of Canada.
The flag of Prince Edward Island (PEI), is modelled after the province’s coat of arms. Like the Fleurdelisé of Quebec, the flag of PEI is designed in a 2:3 ratio and while there’s no official variant in a 1:2 ratio, it isn’t difficult to come across. The lion on the flag is borrowed from the coat of arms of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent. The lion is still found throughout royal coat of arms today.
The large oak tree, representing England, guards over the three oak saplings, representing the three counties of PEI: Prince, Queens, and Kings. The imagery aligns with the province’s motto, “Parva sub ingenti”, meaning, “The small under the protection of the great”.
The flag of Prince Edward Island is often reinterpreted by flag printers who, for whatever reason, feel the need to alter the official design.
Even the website of the province has a variant of the official flag in the background.
To be fair through, the province’s own Provincial Flag Act of 2003 that describes the flag as being “that part of the Armorial Bearings of the province contained within the Shield … with a fringe or band and measures six feet in the fly and four feet in the hoist inclusive of fringe or band.”, and then later in the same paragraph states, ” Smaller or larger flags are to correspond with the above description in the proportions of six, four and one quarter in the fly, the hoist and depth of the fringe.” So which is it?
The flag of Prince Edward Island failed to follow the first rule of good flag design: Keeping it simple. A flag should be simple enough that a child can draw a recognizable rendition of the flag without too much work on the part of the viewer.
It doesn’t get much better…
Charlottetown is the largest city in Prince Edward Island with a whopping 69,325 (2011) in the metro area, nearly one half of the province’s population. The city is famous for being the site of the Charlottetown Conference of 1864, the first gathering of political leaders to debate a union which would become the Canadian Confederation. Because of this the city’s motto is “Cunabula Foederis”, which means, “Birthplace of Confederation”. The flag of Charlottetown is based off of the city’s crest.
A field of argent with a green rectangle joined at the corners to smaller rectangles. The centre square emblazoned with a crown of Queen Charlotte Sophia of England. Along the fly and both lengths of the flag, a border of alternating argent and green bands, similar to the provincial flag.
In the official description of the flag it describes it as a banner of the arms. In the description of the coat of arms of the city, the green shapes are described as squares. However, when they translated the design to a banner they made some interesting decisions, the first of which is the 12:25 ratio. Following that they decided to stretch the squares into rectangles instead of maintaining their original proportions.
I think Charlottetown would have been better suited, and it would have stood out as a bit of an icon in the country and province if they had instead took a note from the Swiss and went with a square flag.