|[The blissfully rejected early version of the Canadian flag.]|
So the question comes up: Which Canadian city should I move to where I can be happiest with the city flag?
It turns that, just like with the well-designed and amazingly dynamic Canadian money, and the well-designed and surprisingly-recent Canadian national flag, the design sensibility up far better executed than it is in the States.
tl;dr: Canadian city flags are pretty good!
Note that most (but not all) of the Canadian city flags were designed in the last thirty years or so, and many are vexiologically sound.
Here's my top 10 list:
#10: Calgary, AB
This city flag was brought to you by Arby's. It looks very 1980s and it is! Still, it's simple and carries out a concept, even if that concept just screams "we have the meats".
Hey, maybe that's a good motto for Calgary anyway? Or maybe "we have the oil"?
#9: Quebec City, QC
Hearkens to the past with the schooner in full sail, and the flag's border recalls the crenellations of the old city walls of Quebec. Still, this is a bit too literal for my taste and I don't care much for the (lack of) symbolism.
OTOH, this would look good on a teacup.
#8: Montreal, QC
This flag is just a high school botany exam. Are the flowers meant to represent different ethnicities or something? If so, I don't care. Pick a flower, stylize the hell out of it, and be done with it. I was expecting more from Montreal.
#7: Ottawa, ON
I really like the simplicity, and overall this is not bad. The concept is very simple and they don't mess it up with any extra crap. The colors are solid.
But the "O"? It is trying way too hard. Is that an attempt at the "OK" sign? A tornado touching down? The pattern that forms when liberal governance swirls down a toilet bowl?
#6: Lethbridge, AB
But then I read about the history of this weird AF flag. It's the flag of 19th. century Lethbridge predecessor, "Fort Whoop-Up", so named because it was a frontier liquor trading post serving up alcoholism and colonialism in equal measure. That's like if Saint Paul had kept its "Pig's Eye" moniker... And to be fair, this does look like it was designed by a very drunk person.
So, in a way it's visual poetry. It grows on you like a parasitic brain fungus.
#5: Richmond, BC
I like this flag. It's boring but simple, and salmon are cool. The shield-as-salmon-run thing is nice.
OTOH, it does look a bit like a 90s era video game graphic.
#4: Thunder Bay, ON
This flag takes a lot of risks and they largely pay off. The colors are bold, and "sleeping giant" skyline is of course the image of Thunder Bay, a weird city that was basically invented in the 70s.
I could do without the maple leaf. The Canadian flag already has a maple leaf on it. We get it with the leaf already.
#2: Toronto, ON (tied)
The same "maple leaf" rule applies here, but overall the Toronto flag is simple and elegant. It doubles as a map of the city coastline, or a pair of hands or a 'T' if you prefer.
Plus it's the Leafs (hockey team) slash Blue Jays (baseball team) colors. Nice and hard to top!
#2: Vancouver, BC (tied)
This is a very simple and solid city flag. Obvi the water is the wavy stuff. The green triangle reminds you of the way that Vancouver sticks out in the harbor, and the "crest" consists of an axe and a paddle. This flag would look decent flying from a pole, eh?
#1: Hamilton, ON
This is pretty, very simple, nice colors, has a vague mirroring of the Canadian flag (three sections with a flower/leaf at center). The chain represents the city's steel industry, but it's like pretty flowery steel not the black crap people normally think of. Plus the chain is a symbolically rich thing to think about, and can be either solidarity or confinement. A good flag that really makes you think!
Nice work, Hamiltonians... I'll be moving there just as soon as Doug Ford is gone.