One of the national symbols of Canada is the maple leaf, it is even on our flag, yet, unlike the Moose or the Beaver, Maple trees are more common in the states than in Canada. Which made me wonder, why is the maple leaf associated with Canada when the tree is found is more common in the states?

  • 3
    As a shape, a maple leaf is simpler to draw and standardize than a Moose or a beaver. Simplicity has some value when it comes to symbols. Oct 26, 2016 at 17:53
  • @KillingTime but then a pinecone would make more sense, coniferous trees are everywhere
    – Uncle Tres
    Oct 26, 2016 at 17:56
  • 5
    Maple trees are common in the parts of Canada where most of the population lives - and a larger fraction of the population lived in those places half a century ago, when the maple leaf flag was adopted.
    – jamesqf
    Oct 26, 2016 at 18:14
  • Production of maple syrup is associated by stereotype with Canada and Vermont. But I don't know how much foundation in reality that stereotype has. Oct 26, 2016 at 18:32
  • 2
    When in doubt, blame the French!
    – Steve Bird
    Oct 26, 2016 at 20:05

1 Answer 1


According to this research the symbolism was developed by Canadiens living along the St Lawrence River by the early 1700s. The coats of arms for Quebec and Ontario (est. 1867) each feature a triple maple leaf design, and that might suggest some lineage of the maple leaves standing in for the triple-fleur-de-lis (i.e. yellow iris) that symbolized the French monarchy that sponsored the original colonization.

If I had to go out on a limb, I'd guess the some early Canadien saw enough maple leaves floating into the St Lawrence in autumn that he thought it'd be funny to lampoon proper Bourbon symbolism with them, and over time (and various English incursions) it evolved from snarky to serious.

  • Yeah it strongly resembles a provincial New-World rustic fleur-de-lys...
    – smci
    Dec 1, 2017 at 2:34

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