The inspiring science behind Canada’s flag – then and now
Today is National Flag of Canada Day. In 1965, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson tasked NRC with selecting and precisely defining the red colour of the flag. The late Dr. Gunter Wyszecki recommended and defined two limit standards for the red colour, which were measured on a General Electric Hardy spectrophotometer, using an NRC-developed standard procedure. NRC pioneered the first application of the Standard Colorimetric System of the International Commission on Illumination (CIE) to specify the colour of a national emblem making Canada and Canadian industry a leader in the measurement of colour and optical properties of materials.
A 21-member Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) Committee on the National Flag of Canada regularly reviews the flag standards and carries out measurement comparisons to ensure that the flags are technically correct to meet current referenced standards and practices. The committee includes technical members from textile testing labs, industry, the major flag manufacturers, and several government departments.
NRC metrology is a key enabler today for a variety of industry applications. In particular, there is a need to control the colour of manufactured goods – such as textiles, automotive parts, printing and inks, paints, plastic, and paper products – both to improve quality control and reduce costs. Industries can lose hundreds of billions of dollars every year in goods that are not sold due to unacceptable colour and appearance.