The Rejected Flags of Cape Breton Island

In September of 1992 on Prince Edward Island, 22 North Atlantic Islands gathered to attend a conference entitled "An Island Living." Some of the islands in attendance included Cyprus, Guernsey, Iceland, Isle of Man, and everyone's favorite fake continent, Greenland. It was at this meeting that Cape Breton made two startling discoveries.

    1. Of the 22 islands in attendance, Cape Breton was the only one with no political autonomy (HALIFAX!!!).
    2. We were the only island in attendance without our very own flag.

As you can imagine, this was a lot like showing up to a potluck without the sweet and sour meatballs. As the Azores and Bermuda lauded their flags over our politically dependent Island, the Cape Breton delegates decided that an official flag was in order.

With the help of The Cape Bretoner Magazine, K94, ATV, City Printers, and the Lyceum Heritage Society, the delegates launched The Great Cape Breton Flag Contest. The competition was launched on February 15th, 1993, with a grand prize of $1000 and the winning design to be declared the official flag of Cape Breton Island by the provincial government.

As we all know, this was the winning design.

Just kidding. That's a silly fake flag with absolutely no authority behind it. This was the real winner.

I give you, the official flag of Cape Breton Island! Now, you might be wondering why you have never seen this flag before, even though it has been declared the official flag of Cape Breton by the provincial government. Well, it's because nobody's flying it, you can't buy it, and The Beaton Institute owns the rights of production, and they aren't making it, because there is no demand for it. 

But that's another story...

We're not here to talk about winning flags though. Over 2000 entries were submitted to the competition, with most designs never seeing the light of day.

Until now.

Here are just a few of

The Rejected Flags of Cape Breton Island

(Disclaimer: Most of these designs were created on index cards by grade school children. All pictures were taken by me, and not well.)

First, we have all the second place flags. I have to give credit to the off-centre Scottish cross, with the maple leaf. Also, the lighthouse is pretty slick. We have lighthouses.

From here on out, we're going to group these flags into categories.

1. PuffinFlags


Does this Puffin have a name? I'm gonna call him Angus McPuffPuff!


Lookin' mighty fine with your Tam o' Shanter and shillelagh, Angus!


Ain't no Party like a McPuffPuff Party, because a McPuffPuff Party has four puffins in it. I'm guessing your party doesn't.

2. LobsterFlags


All Hail God Lobster!


All Hail Love Lobster!


Oh No! We have angered the Lobster Gods!

3. Cape Breton Sinking Flags


Why is this even a category?


"Blub, blub, blub."

4. AmeriCape Breton Flags


Cape Breton, the 51st state?


To the creator's credit, The Dukes of Hazzard was still quite popular in 1993.

5. Eagles!


In this metaphor, Cape Breton is a juicy fish being taken advantage of by imperial powers.


6. Scottish Cape Breton Flags


Huh. These are actually pretty nice.

7. Manly Men Flags


If we choose this one, we would be the only island with an active smoker on our flag. Too bad.


We almost got a flag and a mascot in one go. Steve the Miner!

8. Miscellaneous


A flag of a flag of Canada. So meta.


Did you know Cape Breton had a bunch of bears in hats? That makes two of us.


Music Boomerang!


The beautiful radioactive countryside of Cape Breton.


Not enough people get murdered in Cape Breton to warrant this flag.

9. Flags I Like


Well now, these are just pleasant to look at.


I think when it comes to birds, seagulls are much more our style.


A bit complex, but I dig it.


I'm not sure if these people understand the cost limitations of shading techniques on flags.


Man, our island is a nice shape. I mean really. Just look at PEI. They have nothing on us.


These are a bit intense, but I'm giving this creator some credit for going out on a limb.


Yeah, this one just makes sense.

10. And Finally, A Beaver!


Yup, that's a beaver.


There were many more Rejected Flags of Cape Breton, but these were the flags I thought were worth sharing. If you would like to see all 2000 entries, they're down at The Beaton Institute at CBU. Anybody can stop by and check them out.

So, do you like the official flag of Cape Breton? Do you still like the unofficial flag flown up and down the Mira? Are there any other you think would make a better flag? Let us know in the comments below.

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Some of the 2000 flags that failed to become the official flag of Cape Breton Island.
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Joe Ward Follow Me
I wonder how they picked the winner. Seems strange that the rights to an official flag would be held by a private interest, even an historical-institute-ty one. How much for the rights to them all? May start a front license plate business! :P
Kel donovan Follow Me
The official flag dosen't work.The unofficial flag is the real thing.Let's make it official!
Mathew Georghiou Follow Me
Here's what I would like to see become the official Cape Breton flags: http://screencast.com/t/hudlDiM48s
Neil Libbey Follow Me
Another example of backroom Cape Breton politics, the official Cape Breton flag contest. In February 1993 the Cape Bretoner Magazine sponsored the official Cape Breton flag contest to choose an official flag for Cape Breton. There already was a great Cape Breton flag that was designed by Ralph MacLean that was in wide use and it's design was excellent. Before the deadline for submissions, Ralph MacLean came to see me at the Cape Breton Centre for Heritage and Science, where I was working for the summer to ask me to speak with Kenzie MacNeil, who operated the Cape Bretoner Magazine into letting him enter his flag in the contest because MacNeil had refused to accept his flag submission because he did not want everyone to choose it, real slight to Ralph MacLean. I talked with Kenzie MacNeil and he again refused Ralph MacLean's submission again on the grounds that everyone would chose it over the other submissions! As a result, Cape Bretoner's are left with a flag that there is no demand for. Cape Bretoner's need to right the wrong done to Ralph MacLean and have his great flag recognized as the official flag of Cape Breton! Ralph MacLean's Obituary :http://www.inmemoriam.ca/view-announcement-357448-ralph-mac…

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