Joan O'Malley

Seamstress of the first Canadian flag

Born: Dauphin, Manitoba

When Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson wanted to take prototypes of the new flag proposals to his home at Harrington Lake, the job of creating them fell to Ken Donovan. The assistant purchasing director for the Canadian Government Exhibition Commission recruited graphic artists and silk screeners, Jean Desrosiers and John Williams, and, since it was late on a Friday, his daughter, Joan, to be the seamstress. Using drawings on paper for the designs, the team worked through the night and by the next morning, Pearson had his flags.

At the 30th anniversary celebrations, Joan said, "I really didn't realize what I was getting into when I got that phone call from my father in 1964. I was just doing my father a favour; not participating in history."

More information on:

The National Flag of Canada

Sources include:

Colombo, John Robert. 1000 Questions About Canada. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2001.

Thanks for Kelly Therien for the correction on her mother's birthplace.


By Name · O
By Province · Manitoba
By Claim to Fame · Firsts
Group(s) · Women

Added 14 April 2002.