How did the Maple Leaf become a symbol of Canada?

The maple leaf has grown to become Canada’s primary visual symbol. The natives discovered that the maple sap had nutritional properties and went about harvesting those. The subsequent settlers in the territory too adopted this knowledge.

The people belonging to New France (Quebec) first settled around the St Lawrence River about four centuries ago. These people got familiarized with maple wood, maple sap, and were over all fascinated with the trees magnificent autumnal colors. Thus they slowly came to believe strongly that maple was a symbol of their land and its inhabitants. In 1834, Jacques Viger who was the first Mayor of Montreal in Quebec is quoted to have said the following about maple, "king of the forest...the symbol of the Canadian people". The newspaper called “Le Canadien” chose upon maple leaves for embellishment of its heading. The maple leaf gradually began to be seen on banners and flags in Quebec.

In 1848, a literary publication from Toronto is known to have described a “maple leaf” as Canada’s own preferred emblem. In 1858, The “Prince of Wales' Royal Canadian Regiment of Foot 100th” had a badge with a maple leaf emblem on it. In the same year, silver coinage depicted two maple branches surrounding the date and value.

In 1860 when Prince of Wales paid a visit to Toronto, the citizens were asked to display maple leaf pins. The Governor General’s flag, which was the earliest official flag, had some maple leaves picture in the flag’s center. The year was 1870. From 1876 onwards, the maple leaf began to appear on every Canadian coin. Canadians who were serving in the South African Boer War wore maple leaf Insignia in 1899. The emblem of maple leaf had a deep influence on the Canadians in both World War I and World War II. The Canadian troops wore regimental badges bearing the maple leaf in 1939 during World War II. Finally the maple leaf flag came to be officially adopted on October 22, 1964 by the Parliament.