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Welome to Argyle, Manitoba: Home to the Canadian Flag Collection

Thought to be the second largest collection of flags in the country, the Canadian Flag Collection in Argyle, Manitoba, boasts 1,300 flags.

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Flags from the Canadian Flag Collection on display in the Manitoba LegislaturePhoto: Shayne Campbell

Inside the Canadian Flag Collection in Argyle, Manitoba

As I pull up to the small post office here in Argyle, Manitoba, to get my mail, our friendly postmistress greets me. Along with my personal letters, she tells me that the museum has also received two packages, and smiling, inquires where these two are from. With a shared sense of local pride, I reply that one comes from a private collector in Ontario and the other from a small town in British Columbia. You see, over the last decade, our local museum has been receiving flags from across the country and even from some of Canada’s embassies around the globe. With more than 1,300 flags in our permanent holdings, I believe that our collection is the second largest in the country, behind only that of the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec.

My hometown is officially labeled as an unincorporated village—two municipalities divided by the Prime Meridian of Canada govern the region. It is this very line that was drawn by early land surveyors in the 1870s that divides Canada into east and west, creating the section, township and range system that has been used since the first homesteaders arrived. Although the line seems to be a great divide, the two halves of my hometown have always worked together, through thick and thin. It was in this spirit of community and volunteerism that my museum was born.

(Shown above: Flags from Settlers, Rails & Trails on display in the Manitoba Legislature.)

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Inside the Canadian Flag Collection in Argyle, ManitobaPhoto: Shayne Campbell

Founding the Canadian Flag Collection

I was a teenager when I first began displaying flags in Argyle, and it was at my own private museum. (Above, Shayne holds up the flag for the city of Iqaluit.) Those first seven flags showed visitors a different part of Canada’s past, one seemingly forgotten since the national flag of Canada as we now know it appeared in 1965. Realizing the importance of flags as pop culture artifacts, I began to collect more and more, each one telling their story of national pride, collective disapproval or private sorrow.

In 2009, understanding the growth limitations of a private heritage organization, I gifted the entire museum, including more than 300 flags, to my community.

Today, Settlers, Rails & Trails is a non-profit, community-run organization headed by a wonderfully energetic volunteer board of directors. I’m honoured to be the museum’s first president and executive director.

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Canadian Flag Collection: Princess Auto exhibitPhoto: Shayne Campbell

The Canadian Flag Collection Today

Our Canadian Flag Collection has become the nation’s flag depository, a home to flags that are truly Canadian. We have everything from historic, corporate and regional flags to flags representing universities and sports teams, as well as special occasion or event flags. We are far from finished, however. Our collection is always growing, exceeding my original estimation of how many Canadian flags there actually are.

Flags from our museum have been used in local Remembrance Day services, school programs, parades, corporate exhibits (shown above, a Princess Auto corporate exhibit in Winnipeg in 2017) and major provincial and national anniversaries.

Visitors to the museum are thrilled to learn about our Peace Tower flag from Ottawa, the Pearson pennant—a design for the Canadian flag that was proposed by Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson in 1964—and a series of rare Canadian government issued victory loan flags meant to raise awareness and money to fund both World War I and II. We display all our flags with the pride and respect they deserve, always following etiquette as outlined by the department of Canadian Heritage.

For more on the Canadian Flag Collection, check out Settlers, Rails & Trails.

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Originally Published in Our Canada