Flag-Raising & Half-Masting
Flag raisings enhance public awareness of activities such as fundraising drives, multi-cultural events and national or independence days.
Canadian flags may be lowered to half-mast to commemorate special dates such as Remembrance Day or as a measure of respect and condolence when a high profile official passes away.
Please review the criteria below and submit your flag raising request using our online request form.
Non-profit or charitable organizations may request for the City of Toronto to fly the following flags on its courtesy flag poles, for up to two weeks:
- Flags of nations recognized by the Government of Canada on a country’s national day or on the anniversary of a special occasion; or
- Flags of non-profit or charitable organizations.
- Organizations may request one courtesy flag raising within the calendar year (January 1 to December 31).
- Requests to use the courtesy flagpole will be confirmed on a first come first served basis.
- Your flag raising request should be received by Strategic Protocol and External Relations three to four weeks in advance of your request date.
- Organizations with approved flag raising requests are required to provide a three-foot by six-foot flag with grommets. The flag must be delivered to the Strategic Protocol & External Relations office one week in advance of the flag raising date.
Requests will not be approved for:
- Political parties or organizations
- Religious organizations or in celebration of religious events
- Commercial entities or in celebration of corporate events
- Intent that is contrary to City policies or bylaws
- Organizations requesting flag raisings that espouse hatred, violence or racism
- Organizations that have already flown a courtesy flag during the same calendar year
- Flags not recognized by the government of Canada
- Official letterhead, an official website link or your organization’s social media account (i.e. Facebook)
- Proposed date and time of flag raising ceremony
- Purpose of flag raising
- Ceremony details (if a ceremony is required)
- Equipment required for the flag raising ceremony: e.g. lectern, microphone, CD player
- Name of flag to be raised
- Photo of flag to be raised
The Canadian flag may be lowered to half-mast to commemorate special dates such as Remembrance Day or as a measure of respect and condolence when a high profile official passes away.
Canadian flags are half-masted at Toronto City Hall, Metro Hall and Civic Centres, generally until sunset on the day of the funeral or memorial, unless other arrangements have been confirmed.
Annual half-masts include:
- April 28: Day of Mourning for Persons Killed or Injured in the Workplace (Workers’ Mourning Day)
- June 6: D-Day
- June 23: National Day of Remembrance For Victims of Terrorism
- Last Sunday in September: Police and Peace Officer’s National Memorial Day
- November 11: Remembrance Day
- December 6: National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women
The indigenous flags which are flown on Nathan Phillips Square include the symbols of the Mississaugas of the New Credit, Hauenasaunee (Six Nations of the Grand River Territory), Huron-Wendat, as well as the Métis Nation and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.
Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation
The Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation are a group of Ojibway (Anishinabe) belonging to the Algonquian linguistic group. The flag of the Mississaugas is based on their logo which includes five symbols of their history:
- Eagle – The eagle is viewed as the messenger. The Mississaugas people were once considered to be great messengers, some days traveling 80 miles on foot.
- Three Fires – The three fires are symbolic of the Mississaugas’ traditional and political alliance with the Ojibway, Odawa, and Pottawatomi Nations known as the Three Fires Council.
- The Blue and the Circle of Life – The blue writing symbolizes connection to the water and the circle symbolizes the circle of life. First Nations believe that every living thing is related and interconnected – we are all a part of the circle of life.
- The Peace Pipe – The peace pipe was given to the Mississaugas by Queen Victoria’s cousin (Augustus d’Este) and is used in special opening ceremonies to thank the Great Spirit, Mother Earth and the sun.
Six Nations (or Six Nations of the Grand River) is the largest First Nations reserve in Canada. These nations are the Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Seneca and Tuscarora. Land was granted to the Six Nations by the 1784 Haldimand Treaty.
- The flag represents the original five Nations Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Mohawk and Oneida, which were brought together by the Peacemaker.
- The pine tree middle represents a White Pine (the needles are clustered in groups of five).
- The first square on the left represents the Mohawk Nation – Keeper of the Eastern Door. The inner square on the left, nearest the heart, represents the Oneida Nation. The white tree in the middle represents the Onondaga Nation. This tree also means that the heart of the Five Nations is single in loyalty to the Great Law of Peace. The inner square to the right of the heart represents the Cayuga Nation. The square furthest to the right represents the Seneca Nation, known as Keeper of the Western Door.
- The two lines extending from each side of the squares of the belt, from the Mohawk and Seneca Nations, represents a path of peace.
The Huron-Wendat Nation community and reserve is now found at Wendake, Quebec. The Huron Wendat Nation’s symbol represents its culture, territory and history. The symbol on the flag is accompanied by belts of wampum.
- The Bustards (large terrestrial birds) recall one of the most important beliefs of the Huron-Wendat Nation: the creation of the world. While Yäa’taenhtsihk (Skywoman) fell from the celestial world, bustards gathered it on their wings and placed it on the carapace of Grande Tortue, the chief of the animals. The Great Turtle eventually became a wonderfully beautiful island, our Earth.
- Canoeing and Snowshoeing represent the means of transport used for travel on the territory. The water, the source of life, forms the paths to follow between the division of territories.
- The Hut represents the community, homes and the roof that protects our families. It is also a symbol of strength and agility for work.
- The Circle and the Sweet grass – The Huron-Wendat see all the elements of nature interconnected. All life, including humans, animals, plants, spirits, etc. forms a whole called the Circle of Kinship. The sweet grass represents spirituality, medicinal plants and the forest.
- The Clans include the deer, the tortoise, the bear, the wolf, the beaver, the eagle, the porcupine and the snake. Five of these clans made up the great Nations of the confederation: the Attignawantans, the Attigneenongnahacs, the Arendaronons, the Tahontaenrats Daim and the Ataronchronons. Four (of the eight) clans are represented at Wendake reserve: the deer, the wolf, the bear and the turtle.
- The Beaver – The national emblem of the Huron-Wendat Nation, the beaver alone represents a clan. The most industrious of all animals, it is a symbol of endurance, intelligence and pride.
Prior to Confederation, a new Indigenous people emerged. From the initial offspring of Indigenous and European unions were individuals who simply possessed mixed ancestry. Subsequent intermarriages between these mixed ancestry children resulted in the genesis of a new Indigenous people with a distinct identity, culture and consciousness in west central North America – the Métis Nation.
This Métis people were connected through the highly-mobile fur trade network, seasonal rounds, extensive kinship connections and a collective identity through culture, language and way of life. Distinct Métis settlements emerged throughout what was then called “the Northwest”. In Ontario, historic Métis settlements emerged along the rivers and watersheds of the province, surrounding the Great Lakes and throughout to the northwest of the province.
The Métis flag is 200 years old. The current and most defining Métis flags consist of two variations – one that is blue and the other which is red. The Métis flag represents the Métis people with the infinity sign which symbolizes the immortality of the nation and the coming together of two distinct cultures: Indigenous and European and their existence forever as a people.
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
The Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami is the national organization for the Inuit who reside in four different areas in Canada. This includes Nunatsiavut in Labrador, Nunavik in Northern Quebec, Nunavut (a territory created in 1999), and the Inuvialuit Settlement area in the Northwest Territories and Yukon.
The depictions on the flag include the following:
- Four Inuit (men and women) which symbolize the four Inuit Nunangat (homeland) regions (Inuvialuit, Nunavut, Nunavik and Nunatsiavut).
- Maple leaf in the centre recognizing the Inuit connection and commitment to Canada.
- The ulu (the woman’s knife) is an all-purpose knife traditionally used by Inuit women.
Flag Order Tips
In Canada, due consideration should be given to flag etiquette and precedence whenever the National Flag of Canada or other sovereign national flags or provincial/territorial flags are displayed. Please refer to the National Flag of Canada Act. Flags are symbols that identify and represent nations and although it may seem they provide a dignified and appealing backdrop, they are not intended as décor.
Position of Honour
The location of the position of honour depends on the number of flags flown and the chosen configuration.
When two flags are displayed, the position of honour is furthest to the left (to an observer facing the display).
When three flags are flown, the position of honour is in the centre.
The figures below depict display order for two, three and three or more flags.
Figure 1: Displaying two flags
Example – with a Canadian flag and a flag of a municipality
Figure 2: Displaying three flags.
Example – with a Canadian flag, a provincial flag and flag of a municipality
Figure 3: Displaying more than three flags
Example – with four flags
Here is the order of importance of flags based on precedence:
- The National Flag of Canada
- The flags of other sovereign nations in alphabetical order (if applicable)
- The flags of the provinces of Canada (in the order in which they joined Confederation)
- The flags of the territories of Canada (in the order in which they joined Confederation)
- The flags of municipalities/cities
- Banners of organizations
- Historical Flags
Flag Maintenance and Care Guide
Please use this guide to inspect flags monthly and replace when necessary. Toronto City Council (MM22.37) has requested a monthly inspection of flags at City facilities, including Agencies and Corporations.
Outdoor flags typically need to be replaced every three to four months. Various factors impact how often you must replace a flag, including location, weather, and/or continuous day and night display.
- If flown outside, purchase flags made for exterior use and keep extra flags on hand.
- Use the proper size flag to avoid undue stress, in high winds, to poles and flags which can happen when flags are too large for pole.
- Keep flags away from trees, wires, cables and buildings.
- Keep pole surfaces free of heavy dirt, rust, scale and corrosion that can damage flags.
Flags should be retired and replaced when that flag’s condition is such that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display and should be destroyed in a dignified manner. Replace flags when they are:
Please inspect all flags prior to Canada Day, July 1st and Remembrance Day, November 11th, each year.
Flag Care Checklist
Flag Inspection Result
Issue Log: reason the flag is replaced
|☐ In good condition ☐ Replace
|☐ In good condition ☐ Replace
|☐ In good condition ☐ Replace
|☐ In good condition ☐ Replace
|☐ In good condition ☐ Replace
|☐ In good condition ☐ Replace
View a printable version of this form.
Flag Etiquette and Guidelines
- Flags of nations, provinces and cities should always be flown on their own mast or pole.
- It is improper to fly two or more flags on the same mast or pole (for example, one should not be beneath the other).
- Nothing should be pinned to, drawn or sewn onto a nation, province or city flag.
- Flags may be flown 24 hours a day.
- Ideally, flags flown at night should be lit.
- Flags should not be obstructed or touch anything beneath them (i.e. floor, ground, table).
When a flag is no longer in a suitable condition for use, it should be destroyed in a dignified manner.
- City Divisions purchasing flags through City Stores may send retired flags to the Ellesmere Yard where Purchasing and Materials Management will dispose of them in a dignified manner. Ensure they are marked “Flag Disposal”.
- Many Flag Stores provide proper disposal if you have purchased a flag from the store. Please check with your supplier.
- Canadian flag etiquette
- For flag order tips and further information, you can e-mail email@example.com
Q. Is the Canadian flag removed at Toronto City Hall when a flag-raising request is approved?
A. No. The Canadian flag is always flown on the official flag pole in front of Toronto City Hall. The City of Toronto flag is normally flown on the courtesy flag pole at Toronto City Hall when there is not a flag-raising scheduled. The Canadian flag has been flown on the courtesy flag pole on Canada Day.
Q. Does City Council need to approve individual flag raising requests?
A. No, the City’s Chief of Protocol has delegated authority from City Council to approve these requests.
Q. Does the Mayor or a member of City Council have authority to request that a confirmed flag be taken down?
A. No. Since City Council approved the policy, City Council as a whole would need to change what was previously approved.
Q. When displaying the city flag with provincial and federal flags, what order should they be in?
A. From the perspective of the audience facing the flags, the Canadian flag should be placed in the centre, the provincial flag on the left, and the city flag on the right.
If there are only two flags, the Canadian and the City flag, then from the perspective of the audience facing the flags, the Canadian flag should be on the left and the City flag on the right.
Q. How do I properly dispose of a flag?
A. The correct form of disposing of an old flag is by burning it in private.
Q. Can two flags fly together on one flag pole?
A. No. It is not proper protocol to fly the Canadian flag on the same pole as any other flag. According to Canadian Heritage, the Canadian flag should always be flown on its own mast. It should not be subjected to indignity or displayed in a position inferior to any other flag.
Q. What flags are normally flown at City Hall?
- Along Bay Street the Canadian, Provinces, Territories, and City or Toronto flags are flown.
- On the Podium Roof courtesy flag pole the City of Toronto flag is flown.
- Along the east overhead walkway on Nathan Phillips Square, five flags are flown that include the symbols of the Mississaugas of the New Credit, Hauenasaunee (Six Nations of the Grand River Territory), Huron-Wendat, as well as the Métis Nation and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.
- Along the south overhead walkway on Nathan Phillips Square the City of Toronto flags are flown.
- On Nathan Phillips Square the Canadian flag is flown on the official flag pole.
Q. What is the height of the Official flag pole on Nathan Phillips Square?
A. The height of the Official flag pole on Nathan Phillips Square is 99 feet.
Q. What is the height of the Podium Roof courtesy flag pole?
A. The height of the Podium Roof courtesy flag pole is 18 feet, 6 inches.
Q. What is the size of the Canadian flag flown on the Official flag pole?
A. Normally the Canadian flag flown is 7 ½ feet by 15 feet. On National Flag Day and Canada Day the Canadian flag flown is 15 feet by 30 feet (weather depending).
Q. What other civic centres have courtesy flag poles?
A. There are courtesy flag poles located at City Hall, Scarborough and North York civic centres.
To City Hall Courtesy flag pole:
- Take the ramp on the north east side of Nathan Phillips Square up to the Podium Roof.
- The Courtesy Flag Pole is on the east (right) side of the ramp.
- Enter the main doors to City Hall via Nathan Phillips Square. Proceed to your right via the main floor to the East Tower Elevators.
- Take the elevator to 3rd floor and out the doors to the Podium Roof.
- Head south (to your left) on the Podium Roof to the Courtesy Flag Pole.