Last modified: 2007-02-24 by phil nelson
Keywords: newfoundland | canada | color: pink | color: white | color: green | pink white green |
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Green-White-Pink Newfoundland flag
image by Željko Heimer
Erroneous Pink-White-Green version
image by Željko Heimer
Newfoundland had an old-established if unofficial flag (vertical tricolour
of pink, white and green).
Roy Stilling - 30 April 1996
These are the pink-white-green "Native" flags of 1840 and 1843.
I know that before being part of Canada, an equally vertically divided Pink-White-Green was used in Newfoundland (before 1949).
I believe the flag wasn't official.
Luc Baronian - 31 January 1997
From Simon Fraser's tome on Canadian flags (http://www.fraser.cc/FlagsCan/toc.html):
The first flag to specifically represent Newfoundland seems to have borne a green fir tree upon a pink field. In use early in the nineteenth century, it is likely that this flag was based on a similar flag, but with a white field, that had been flown by the colonists in New England.
Although the pink flag with its tree apparently initially represented all islanders, when a modified version of it was adopted by the Native's Society in the late 1830s, it began to be perceived as the symbol of the English Protestant portion of the community. Irish Catholic immigrants responded by flying a green flag bearing the Celtic harp. In the 1840s, the division between these two groups was exacerbated each spring as up to 10,000 sealers would converge on St. John's before boarding ships for the sealing grounds. During these times, competition was frequently accompanied by religious animosity and a prominent display of opposing flags.
The Pink, White and Green
In an attempt to defuse the conflicts, a delegation representing the government and leaders of both communities sought the council of Bishop Fleming, who was respected by all. Tradition has it that after pondering the problem, the bishop asked that the pink flag and the green flag of the two factions be brought to him. Then joining them with a white handkerchief, which he said represented the white of peace from the flag of St. Andrew, he handed it to the assembled group and said, "Go in Peace."
Phil Nelson - 12 January 1999
This doesn't explain why the green fir tree was on a pink field to represent Newfoundland. I can understand the fir tree (or pine tree) in imitation of New England flags, but feel that the pink field needs some sort of explanation; or if not an explanation, an original example or contemporary painting. The only pink flag relevant to the general area and period shown in the 1917 NGM is that of Tallmadge's Dragoons, not something loyalists in Newfoundland would have copied.
The likelihood of the colour pink being accurate, if relying solely on written descriptions, is weakened by the ambiguous nature of the word "pink". As used in the last century it had eleven different meanings unrelated to colour, and as a colour could mean in today's terms, "pink", or "red", or "a sort of yellow".
In the absence of real evidence I think that "pink" may be a
modern interpretation that is wrong?
David Prothero - 13 January 1999
I had simply assumed that we had such evidence. However, if the tricolor
was used continuously from the 19th century up to now (and right after the
pink flag with a pine tree), I think we would have sufficient evidence. Don't
know much about Newfoundland, so I'll leave this research to someone else. If
someone does go through with this research, it would make a great article,
which would certainly be accepted in Flagscan or even The Flag Bulletin.
Luc Baronian - 13 January 1999
Many scholars favour the notion that these three colours represented the homelands of early British settlers in Newfoundland.
The pink represents the Tudor rose of the English monarchy - the royal line
under which Newfoundland was discovered and explored and early settlement
begun. The white symbolizes Scotland, since it is the national colour. As the
colour for peace, white also represents unity between the English and Irish
colours displayed in the Newfoundland flag. The green has long been symbolic
of Ireland's identity and thus represents the Irish settlers in Newfoundland.
Phil Nelson - 7 February 1999
I don't find this very convincing. The Tudor livery colours were green and white; the Tudor rose was red and white.
I found out a little more about the fir tree flag. According to The Oldest City: The Story of St. John's, Newfoundland by Paul O'Neill, the flag consisted of a green spruce tree on a pink background with two clasped hands beneath. Later the motto "Philanthrophy" was added. Earliest record of its existence was 1837. Ceased use sometime in 1840s. It was the flag of The Native Society founded in 1840 "to protect the imagined rights and privileges of landed planters from the flood of newcomers" to Newfoundland.
My theory is that the hands and motto did not show up well on what was
originally a red flag, so the background was lightened to pale red, which
became described as pink.
David Prothero - 8 February 1999
There is no doubt that one panel of the tricolour is "pink", though I wouldn't like to define the shade, which in any case, probably varies. I have had confirmation of this from two different sources. One of whom wrote, "It is indeed a strange, one might say provocative, colour for a flag".
This doesn't help with the colour of the pine/spruce/fir tree flag from which the colour pink may have been derived. There are two tenuous associations with the colour. An 1870 proposal, not adopted, for the flag of the Governor of Prince Edward Island had around the badge on the Union Flag, a garland of roses, thistles and shamrock; the roses and thistles having pink flowers; and on British maps countries of the British Empire were often coloured pink.
The spelling of the word "Philanthrophy" is obviously wrong, but
I haven't yet been able to find out whether this is a modern typo, or the way
it was spelt on the flag.
David Prothero - 11 February 1999
Under the representation of this flag there is a debate about the
origination of the pink colour in the Newfoundland flag. I believe the pink
third of this flag does represent the British loyalists in Newfoundland. It is
the colour of the Tudor Rose, often incorrectly thought of as red. In England,
the rose became truly "royal" during the 15th century War of the
Roses: The House of York adopted a white rose (R. alba?), the House of
Lancaster decided to take a red rose (R. gallica?). The winner of this war,
Tudor Henry VII, merged his Lancastrian rose with the white rose of his York
bride and thus created the Tudor Rose, the Rose of England, a pink rose.
Edward Smith, 26 April 2000
As David Prothero says, the Tudor rose is red and white, not pink. The red
rose came to symbolize the parliamentary sanction whereby Henry VII became
king. To add legitimacy to his dynasty he married Elizabeth, heiress of the
York white rose. The Tudor rose was originally represented in three ways, but
all of them superimposing one rose on another. One rose was half white, half
red, split down the middle. Another was quartered red and white. But the most
aesthetically pleasing and enduring was the white rose superimposed on a red
rose. In some artistic representations the highlights of the red rose are pink
(or the red has faded to pink, or bled into the white rose), but it was never
the intent to fuse the red and white into a single pink rose.
T.F. Mills, 27 April 2000
However I have now found that in 1874 a proposal (rejected) for the defaced Union Jack of the Lt-Governor of Prince Edward Island had a badge surrounded by a garland of thistles, shamrocks and roses that were definitely pink and not red. ADM 116/185. A single instance, but in the same geographic area.
A more general association of British and pink that comes to mind, was on
British political maps, where territories of the British Empire were often
David Prothero, 28 Apr 2000
Why the Pink, White and Green?
Compiled by Temple Butler, Black Bank, Newfoundland, (date unknown).
The following provides background information in relation to the original Newfoundland Flag:
I thought that it was just a plain tricolour.
No British postage stamps were issued for the 1911 coronation. There was a
Newfoundland issue but no flag in the background of any of them.
David Prothero, 20 November 2000
Researching the flag, I came across the following poem:
The Pink, the White and the Green, The Flag of Newfoundland
Written by Archbishop Howley.
The pink the rose of England shows, the green St. Patrick's emblem bright,
while in between the spotless sheen of Andrew's cross displays the white.
Then hail the pink, the white, the green, our patriot flag long may it stand.
Our sirelands twine their emblems trine to the form the flag of Newfoundland.
(chorus) Fling out the flag o'er creek and crag.
Pink, white, and green, so fair, so grand.
Long may it sway o'er bight and bay
around the shores of Newfoundland.
What e'er betide our ocean bride that nestles midst Atlantic's foam
Still far and wide we'll raise our pride, our native flag o'er hearth and home.
Should e'er the hand of Fate demand, some future change in our career,
we ne'er will yield on flood or field the flag we honour and revere.
This led me to the work of Greg Pike. It promotes the use of the Newfoundland tricolour:
Our True Colours by G.A. Pike
Williams OK with changing province's flag by John Gushue
Raising a New Flag by Ivan Morgan
The Newfoundland Tricolour by John FitzGerald
The Flag of Newfoundland by Archbishop Howley
Among other things, the 'handkerchief episode' is called a myth.
Jan Mertens, 13 November 2005
image by David Cox, 10 October 2005
The pink-white-green flag (and it is usually in that order, with pink
toward the hoist, though not always) is a "traditional" flag - known
quite well in Newfoundland, and after a political controversy in Newfoundland,
when the premier ordered the removal of the national flag from government
offices for a while, increasingly seen around the island. The badge on it is
from an early colonial flag, and I think the combination is probably some flag
makers attempt to cash in on the current popularity of the pink-white-green by
adding a clearly Newfoundland symbol.
Rob Raeside, 10 October 2005
There was an article in yesterday's (Oct 29, 2005) Globe and Mail (a national newspaper of Canada) with a very interesting article on Newfoundland's green-white-pink flag.
Jist of it: A Newfoundlander has hoisted the "Newfie flag" (as
I'll refer to the green-white-pink flag for the rest of the article, the legal
flag of the province will be called the "Newfoundland flag")
somewhere in St. John's (a high-visibility area if I recall), and has started
a petition to get the provincial flag changed to the Newfie flag. The article
also states that in recent polls, support of the "Newfie flag"
stands at about 1/4 of the population, many see it as only the "flag of
St. John's" (the capital city), apparently saying that the rest of the
province does not identify with it.
David Kendall, 30 October 2005
Radio Canada reports (29 October 2005) something similar, probably referring to the same polls. According to polls made by the Telelink company upon request by Danny Williams, Prime Minister of Newfoundland, only 1/4 of the population would support the adoption of the "Newfie flag". Nearly half of the interviewed people rejected the proposal, saying it would be expensive and unnecessary.
The Prime Minister publicly supported the adoption of the
Ivan Sache, 30 October 2005
Since the province added "and Labrador" to its name,
the pink-white-green has become identified as the flag of the island
of Newfoundland. I'm not suggesting these events are necessarily
linked, but I suspect a small surge of island patriotism was
engendered by the name change, which has resulted in the flying of the
pink-white-green. Other anti-Ottawa events have also caused its
Rob Raeside, 10 January 2007