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Quebec - Patriotic flag before 1900 (Canada)

Indépendantistes du Québec

Last modified: 2012-08-09 by rob raeside
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Patriotic flag before 1837-39

[Parti Patriote] image by Luc-Vartan Baronian

[Parti Patriote] image by Luc-Vartan Baronian

[Parti Patriote] image by Ivan Sache, 23 December 2006

[Parti Patriote] image by ND, 25 July 2008
Source: painting illustration in Québec Canada Grandeur Nature (December 1999)

Proportions 1:2 and 2:3 are seen.

Horizontal green-white-red, sometimes seen with a yellow star, near the hoist in the green stripe.

The green represents the Irish in the ranks of the Patriotes. The flag in its whole is a revolutionary flag (it was adopted in the early 1800s).
Use of the flag

The addition of the star seems to be of this century.

The original flag was used by the Parti Patriote, a mainly French-Canadian party, but that also had many Irish members and some English members. This flag was banned by the British authorities, after the 1837-1839 revolution in Lower Canada (actual Quebec).

In the '60s and '70s it was used by the FLQ. It even flew in Alger (Algeria!) where an FLQ branch was officially recognized and financed by the government.

Today it is seen in many nationalist manifestations and in commemorations of the Patriotes. A new party, the MNLQ (Mouvement National de Liberation du Quebec) founded by the ex-leader of the Algeria faction of the FLQ uses the starred version. (It is considered an extremist party).

NB: If you're ever in Montreal, visit the Musee du Chateau Ramezay; you will see the Patriote flag of the St-Eustache battle (it has a fish, maple leaves, etc..).
Luc-Vartan Baronian, 14 March 1997


This flag (without star) was used during the Rebellion led by Louis-Joseph Papineau in 1837-1838 to establish a republic in the by-then Lower Canada, which corresponds to the Province of Quebec now.
Michel Simard, 30 September 1998


The independentist website "L'Indépendance du Québec" presents different hypotheses on the meaning of the Patriote flag (horizontally divided green-white-red).

The most plausible hypothesis claims that the first flag used in Nouvelle-France was modelled on the French national flag, but with the stripes placed horizontally. Green would have later replaced blue in order to represent the Irish component of the population of the country. An other hypothesis says that green represents hope, white the purity of the cause, and red the loyalty to the British Crown, from which they initially did not want to secede. This meaning would have disappeared in autumn 1837 when the rebellions broke out. The combination of these two hypotheses would led to attribute green to the Irish, white to the French Canadian and red to the Brits. I stress again that these are only hypotheses and that the original phrasing in the source website is very cautious.

The same source shows the photography of a Patriote flag kept in the funeral chapel of the Papineau Manor at Montebello. Louis-Joseph Papineau (1786-1871) was the leader of the Patriote rebellion in 1836-1837. It is horizontally divided green (faded to brown)-white-red with the black letters PLH in the white stripe. PLH seems to stand for Patrie - Liberté - Honneur (Fatherland - Freedom - Honour).

More details on the Papineau Manor, including the photography of the flag, at Le Manoir Papineau
Ivan Sache, 23 December 2006


And so it should especialy considering the first hypothesis: New France ceased to exist by the treaty of Paris a good 26 years before the taking of the bastille so the use of any republican french- inspired flag in the North American french colonies would have been visionary to say the least.

As to the second, I have heard that same explanation before when visiting the "Maison des Patriotes", an Interpretation center dedicated to the Patriote Rebellion in Saint-Denis (Quebec). While it is plausible, I don't think there is any contemporary sources that give this rationale (or any other unfortunately).
Marc Pasquin, 23 December 2006


Patriotic Flags after 1839

[Patriotic flag after 1839] image by Jaume Olle
Source: "Flags of Quebec" by François Beaudoin, Flag Bulletin, Vol. XXIII, No. 5 / 107, September-October 1984, pgs. 149-163.

[Patriotic flag after 1839] image by Jaume Olle
Source: "Flags of Quebec" by François Beaudoin, Flag Bulletin, Vol. XXIII, No. 5 / 107, September-October 1984, pgs. 149-163.

These flags are based on the French tricolore.

Until the 1837-1839 rebellion, green-white-red horizontals were very popular in Lower Canada.

After the rebellion, the British banned the use of such flags, therefore French-Canadians started looking for new identifying flags. Variations on the French tricolore became the most popular choice in the second half of the XIXth century in what was now known as Quebec (since 1867). These flags had the advantage of being tolerated by the British authorities because of the alliance between France and the UK in the Crimean war against Russia from 1853 to 1871. Different variations include traditional French-Canadian symbols : maple leaves, beavers, the sacred heart.