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Saskatchewan's flag and Anthony Drake

MLA Warren Michelson's column for the week of July 31, 2019
MLAsColumn_WarrenMichelson
Moose Jaw North MLA Warren Michelson

There are a number of symbols that bring out the pride of our Province. One of the most notable is our provincial flag. The pride in the Saskatchewan flag has been amplified over the past month as we commemorate 50 years since its inception in 1969. To promote this anniversary, events with special festivities have taken place in its honour.

The attendance of designer Anthony Drake further captured the pride we see in this iconic symbol that provides our province with distinction. I was privileged to visit with Anthony Drake and his wife Joan. They are British citizens who were teaching in Hodgeville from 1967 to 1969.  Through a public contest, over 4,000 flag designs were submitted. One of the 13 designs submitted by Mr. Drake was selected. The simple design of the southern prairies (yellow) and the northern forestry (green) including he Saskatchewan coat of arms and the provincial flower emblem of the Western Red Lilly encapsulates our province in is simplest, yet absolute detail.

I met Anthony Drake and his wife Joan three years ago on their first visit back to Saskatchewan since his design was accepted. He never actually observed the winning design of the flag as they had returned to England before the final selection was made. It was a pleasure to meet them again through the organization of Gale Hapanowicz, now a resident of Hodgeville, who realized the significance of this unique prairie town in the history of the flag on its 50th anniversary.

Anthony Drake is a humble man. His friendly, welcoming demeanour would indicate he is well-accepted by everyone he comes in contact with. He is very knowledgeable in a variety of subjects and his recollection of teaching in Hodgeville is nostalgic. Some of the details may have escaped him after 50 plus years; however his wife Joan is by his side to affirm dates, times and places.

Anthony and Joan are now back in their homeland of England. Their time in Saskatchewan was busy with a variety of celebratory events including a Saskatchewan Roughrider game, the Saskatchewan Air Show, Tea at Government House, a luncheon at the Swift Current Bentley Senior Centre, and the Shaunavon Fair. They packed in a lot of events, met a number of people, travelled thousands of kilometres, and always the same friendly smile, warm greeting, and happy to discuss the flag or any subject that would arise.

I had an opportunity to visit with Anthony and Joan just prior to the conclusion of his visit. Saying goodbye was difficult as, through this short period of time, we had developed an honourable relationship. I felt that I had gained through this relationship of understanding, knowledge, respect and admiration for a person that humbly had made a significant and lasting imprint on millions of people through the creation of one of our most cherished provincial emblems, the Saskatchewan flag. It was an honour and privilege to have them return to Saskatchewan on this momentous anniversary.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.