Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff Eric Sinclair, of Red Deer, has flown a Canadian flag year-round in his backyard for about 30 years and said he will continue to do so.

Maple leaf flags waving in Red Deer neighbourhoods

Local Canadian pride

Rob Porkka remembers the February day in 1965 when Grandview Elementary School raised the Canadian flag for the first time.

As a young student he was eager to pledge allegiance to the new red and white maple leaf flag.

“We had a big flag raising ceremony in front of the school, and we got one Canadian flag because they were hard to come by. I know I pestered my poor Grade 1 teacher for weeks wondering when we would get a classroom flag and get rid of that Union Jack,” said the Eastview Resident.

His class finally got a flag a year later.

“I saw her about 25 years later and I said, ‘I’m sorry,’ ” laughed the Red Deerian about his youthful tenacity.

Fast forward a few decades and the former administrator at École Secondaire Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School helped put the Canadian flag back into every single classroom in the high school, along with starting and closing the school week with O Canada.

“I’ve been lucky in my international work to work all around the world. I think Canadians are sometimes a little bit shy about showing their patriotism and pride in their country, and I think it’s important to show that and the flag is a great symbol of your country,” said Porkka who worked as a teacher in Germany and the Netherlands.

For about 15 years, Porkka has been hanging a Canadian flag by his front door on a 45-degree mount off his house throughout the spring and summer. He said it’s nice to see more Red Deerians add a flag to their home as excitement grows for Canada’s 150 birthday.

“It’s taken a while for the feeling to build, but I have been noticing as I go around the neighbourhood more and more people are displaying their flags. You used to see it once in a while during the Winter Olympics when we were doing well — go Canada go.”

Canadians are proud of their country, but they don’t usually put their pride on display, he said.

“This is a year to show it for sure,” Porkka said.

Morrisroe resident Eric Sinclair has had a Canadian flag atop a flag pole year-round in his backyard for maybe 30 years.

“I was in the armed forces before I went into teaching. So the flag was always important to me, of course,” Sinclair said.

“It wasn’t quite so visible until a tree went down in the storm a few weeks ago. We lost the mountain ash that was there,” he said about damaging winds that struck in May.

He said the flag only comes down when it needs to be replaced, and the few times people have stolen it.

“There’s a bit of a bend in the flag pole because somebody actually bent the pole over to get the flag. That was the first one we put up.”

The rigging has since been moved further out of reach and Sinclair needs a ladder to get the flag down.

He said the flag has flown in his yard for so long there’s be something missing if if wasn’t there.

“We like it,” Sinclair said.

Waskasoo resident Richard Pawloff said it took a while, but three years ago he finally got a flag pole to hoist a Canadian flag.

His whole neighbourhood can enjoy it because it stands on guard in his front yard.

“I always wanted a Canadian flag because when I left Germany I said this is it, I’m going to be Canadian. I never spoke another word of German,” said Pawloff who came to Canada in 1954 and Red Deer in 1965.

“I joined the Canadian army which helped me go to university and eventually got a teaching certificate and a degree in science and started teaching science at Lindsay Thurber.”

The proud Canadian said when he finally had the time and money, the flag pole went up, and he’s not the only one to enjoy the fluttering maple leaf judging from comments from passers-by.

“I think we’re every bit as patriotic as the Americans are, but we don’t brag about it. I think that’s the difference.”

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