Parliament Hill flags

On February 15, 1965, our national flag was raised for the first time on Parliament Hill. Five flags fly on the Hill: one over the Peace Tower, one on each side of the Centre Block, one over the West Block and one over the East Block.

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The flag master

Every weekday, the designated flag master changes the Peace Tower flag, except on statutory holidays and during poor weather conditions. The flag is also changed for half-masting. The other Parliament Hill flags are changed weekly and on days that they are at half-mast.

To replace the Peace Tower flag, the flag master folds and places a new flag in a satchel, takes the elevator to the observation deck, and climbs 33 metres of stairs and ladders. Once at the top, the flag master lowers the flying flag and raises the new one on the 10.7-metre flagpole. Throughout the 20 to 30 minute process, the flag is never to touch the ground.

Meet the flag master

Transcript of the flag master video

(Piano instrumental in background.)

(Top view of a corridor where we see the back view of a man walking. The title, "The flag master," appears on the screen in white letters.)

Regular guy doing something special I guess.

(Chest shot of a man leaning on a balustrade, then a zoom in on his face)

I'm Robert Labonté and I'm the flag master.

(Fade to black)

(A man seated speaking to someone off camera.)

There's five flags on Parliament Hill: one on the East Block, one on the West Block and two on the courtesy poles, and they get changed once a week. And there's the fifth one, the most important one, it's the one on the Peace Tower, and that flag is changed daily, every working day.

(Shot of a wrought iron balustrade with a keystone ceiling, we see the side view of a man walking from left to right.)

(Back view of a man walking in a hallway with smooth stone walls; there is a series of windows to his right. He is carrying a bag.)

(Chest shot of a man seated speaking to someone off camera.)

(Front view of a man walking in a hallway. He is carrying a bag.)

A lot of people are surprised when they learn that the flag is changed every working day, a lot of them don't know, so it's kinda make your job kinda secret a well kept secret. I mean I'll walk the halls here all day long and nobody will know that I'm the one who went up and changed it.

(Head and shoulders shot of a man seated speaking to someone off camera.)

(Waist shot from floor of people walking down a hallway.)

(Waist/knee shot back view of a man carrying a bag and walking down a hallway. The image is blurred.)

(Back view of a man walking.)

I added my own little twist when I change the flag that I do and that nobody else does. I fist pump the lions at the bottom of the Peace Tower. I even named them. I named them Richard and William. So those are my little pet lions.

(Close-up of a fisted hand fist-pumping the paw of a carved stone lion.)

(Medium shot of an iron-screened door with a man behind it preparing to unlock it. A shadow passes in front of the camera).

(Close-up of a man's face behind a screen.)

(Close-up of a hand unlocking a lock.)

(Medium face shot of a man opening an iron-screened door and closing it behind him.)

(Close-up of a spool that is turning.)

(Close-up facial profile of a man looking up.)

(Head and shoulder profile shot of a man in an elevator looking outside.)

(Overhead shot of a narrow stairwell. We see a man climbing stairs (blurry).)

(Top view of a machine room.)

(Head and shoulder shot of a man climbing stairs.)

(Low-angle shot of a man climbing stairs.)

(Overhead shot of a man going up a narrow stairwell holding onto rails on each side.)

(Medium close-up of a cubby hole containing a stool and two windows. The man puts down the bag, and climbs up on the stool.)

(Low-angled view of a man unlocking a lock above his head.)

(Pan view, a cover opens and a man appears.)

(Low-angle shot of the flag of Canada on a pole waving in the wind.)

(Medium close-up of the side view of a man pulling iron cables.)

(Low-angle shot of the Flag of Canada being lowered down a pole.)

(Overhead shot of a man that is holding the Flag of Canada in his hands and pulling on cables to raise it.)

(Overhead 180° shot of a man raising a flag. The roof of the building is visible.)

(Waist shot of a man speaking to someone off camera.)

So once the flag is taken down changed we keep 'em, we fold 'em in a specific way and we hold ‘em for the Minister's Office for Public Works, and they're responsible to deliver the flags to the Canadians who have put their names on the list.

(Travelling waist shot of a man folding the flag of Canada.)

(Medium close-up (blurred) of a hand folding a red and white flag.)

The first time I went up to change the Peace Tower flag by myself, I just, I changed it and I just took an extra five minutes by myself up there just in awe. I couldn't believe that I was starting a career where I got to do this every day.

(Long shot of a man folding a red and white flag on a table.)

(Medium shoulder/waist shot of a flag being folded.)

(Long shot of a man picking up a red and white flag off a table.)

(Head and shoulder shot of a man speaking to a person off camera.)

(Medium close-up of beams and cables, with landscape in the distance.)

(Medium close-up of the rear view of the head of a man looking out in the distance, he turns his head to the right, stares, then disappears.)

(Fade to black. The following appears on the blank screen: The Canadian Flag has been flying over the Peace Tower since February 15, 1965. Produced by Françis René, Scott Butcher, Andrea Lillico from the Multimedia and Creative Services group at Public Works and Government Services Canada.)

(Corporate signature)

(Canada Wordmark)

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